Inside Street Photography

The official newsletter of Street Photography Magazine

  Bob Patterson  |  Friday, 29 Sep 2023  |  Reading time:  5 mins  | Read online

The Thrills and Challenges of the Fredericksburg Street Photography Shootout

As the publisher of Street Photography Magazine, I've had the honor of being asked to judge many street photography contests around the world. For me, this is very rewarding because I get to see so many fabulous photos created by photographers from around the world, and it helps me in my own personal work to learn and try new things.

The most fun and interesting contest that I've been invited to judge takes place very close to where I live. It's the Fredericksburg Street Photography Collective annual Shootout in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The event is the brainchild of collective founder Ted Nelson. My fellow judges were Marci Lindsay, Tom Mullins, and Craig Clark, all experienced street photographers from the Washington, DC area.

This year, the third annual shootout took place just a few weeks ago in mid-September on a beautiful day in an ideal town for street photography. Fredericksburg is full of historic and interesting Colonial Revival architecture, and it's also quite diverse and a fun place almost any weekend. You can find some type of festival, farmers market, or other event taking place right in the town. The weekend of this year's competition was no different, as there was an Oktoberfest and farmers market near the contest meeting area at the Curibita Art Cafe.

The Fredericksburg Shootout is unique because it brings together street photographers from throughout the region to meet and compete in person. Everything happens on that day. Participants are given three hours to roam the streets of Fredericksburg, find interesting subjects, take their shots, edit their photos, and submit their two best shots for judging. The judges face the challenging task of selecting the winners within an hour. Talk about pressure!

I like the contest because everything happens in person. Most photography competitions take place remotely, where contestants submit their photographs online. And then judging also takes place remotely, at your computer. In those cases, the judges have never met each other, nor have I even spoken.

Although photographers are there to compete, it creates an atmosphere of camaraderie and cooperation. Contestants get to know each other before the competition. They run into each other on the streets while shooting, and they get together again when it's time to edit their work and maybe later for a beer after the awards are presented.

Being a street photographer means wandering the streets alone, constantly on the lookout for that perfect photo opportunity. While they share their work on social media and receive "likes" from strangers, the process of curating and refining their photos is mostly solitary. This solitude can sometimes lead to self-doubt and questioning of their skills.

Street photography is hands down one of the most challenging styles of photography. The photographer has no control over the lighting conditions, and capturing the essence of people's movements and behaviors on the street is as unpredictable as the weather. Life on the street is chaotic, which adds to the difficulty. Plus, photographing strangers in public places can be a bit awkward for both the photographer and the subjects. It's no wonder that street photographers can go weeks or even months without capturing that one keeper. Doing this in a single three-hour period is a major challenge.

The Fredericksburg competition gives competitors an opportunity not only to meet other photographers who share the same challenges and exhilaration when things come together.

At the deadline, contestants had to submit their two favorite photographs for judging. We had one hour to select first, second, and third place winners, plus three honorable mentions. It was a very difficult choice, but it was worth every minute to see the gratification on the faces of the winners and participants alike.

The Winners

First Place Mark Holl
Second Place Kyle Meyers
Third Place Ted Nelson

Honorable Mention

Bob Martin
Aaron Cabito
Jeromie Stephens

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