Since 1985, the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) has had the goal of getting artists from all over Ohio noticed and honored by placing their work in the Governor’s Residence and throughout the Governor’s offices. The OAC recently sent out the 2013 call for entry for Ohio visual artists, requesting all two-dimensional pieces of art that were in the painting, drawing, photography and mixed media categories.
Local photographer, Pam DeCamp of Wheelersburg, received her OAC newsletter through e-mail, saw the call for entry, and decided to enter some of her work. Of the nine photos she submitted to the competition, two of them were selected to be used. Out of the many submissions the OAC received, only 89 of them were selected to be featured. Two of DeCamp’s winning photos are currently hanging in the Governor’s personal office and could be there for a few years to come.
DeCamp has won many awards, been juried into various shows and has been given honorable mentions over the past few years and was even asked to host her own gallery out of the Thoroughbred Gallery on Winchester Avenue in Ashland, Ky..
“I started right after college with my photography career, trying to land work as much as possible, but I was kind of caught in that odd time frame where women were told ‘Oh, you don’t want to do that. You want this kind of job.’ The field was still predominately men,” DeCamp said. “It was challenging as a female to get into that field. I ended up going back to school to be a nurse. My idea was that I’d become a nurse, so I could buy equipment and push through, so for 25 years I was a nurse.”
Despite the fact that DeCamp took a 25-year professional break from photography, she had accomplished a lot in her early photography career. DeCamp was a freelance photographer for the New York Times, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and was a stringer for the Associated Press.
Decamp might not have been professionally shooting during her nursing career, but she did what she calls ”pleasure shooting” and kept active with her camera, while also helping out friends with wedding photography and other special events.
DeCamp switched to digital in 2008 and began entering competitions. She started to send some of her work to the County Fair and after seeing her work place in the categories she entered, she decided to look around for other outlets to test her skill. Since then, she sold various pieces of her collection, has won various mentions throughout the tri-state area, stretched far up into Ohio and even won an international photo competition with a photo she took of JAX Theatre’s theatrical make-up of Scrooge.
“I realized that the technology wasn’t much different and the functionality of taking a photo hasn’t changed, but the tools we use have. We don’t have a darkroom anymore, the darkroom is right here on the computer. It has been a whole new world, with there being so much more I can now do.”
For the past five years, DeCamp has been pushing harder and harder at entering competitions, getting her name out there and keeping up with the constant update of technology with much success.
Of the nine shots DeCamp submitted to the OAC, the two photographs of Cincinnati were chosen to be featured. The call was asking for still life and landscape photos. DeCamp sent in various shots of Portsmouth and Cincinnati, both being towns that she had lived in. One of the photos she submitted wasn’t as big of a shock as the other; in fact, she almost didn’t submit one of her winning photos.
“When I start to plan on entering a competition, I make a new folder and start dropping in work I might use. There wasn’t a lot of information online on what they like and go for, so I just started going through my various landscapes and chose some that I thought were my best. One of my winning photos almost didn’t get submitted. It was one of those photos that I was on the fence about; I liked it, but I wasn’t sure it was overwhelmingly wonderful.”
Her second photo that won its place in the Governor’s Residency, and a spot on the Governor’s wall, is a piece she calls “Great American Pastime.” The piece is a Cincinnati skyline picture, with the Cincinnati Reds’ baseball stadium being the center focus of the shot.
“That was one of those pictures that I showed to no one after I finished processing it, because it is one of those that I finished and I was just like, “wow,”” Decamp said. “When I saw it I thought it was very special; it just catches you. I wanted to keep it special and reserve it for something big. I had the photo printed on pearl paper, which made it really pop even more. It just turned out fabulously for me.”
DeCamp shared the Cincinnati skyline at a gallery in Cincinnati briefly, but still kept it quiet and off social media. It wasn’t until she had it placed in the Governor’s Residency that she shared it online for everyone to see and has had a positive response to it.
“Every now and then I think, ‘OK…That’s the Governor’s…”” It is still kind of overwhelming to me, because it isn’t something that I ever would have expected. I’ve set a lot of goals for myself along the way and a lot of people think that I just bought a nice camera and that I just started,” DeCamp explained. “No, this is something I’ve wanted to do a long time. I’m an older adult now and I just think why not? Why not sit back and do something I’m enjoying.”
DeCamp says that time spent on photos vary and that it isn’t an insane gesture to assume a winning shot can take 12 hours in shooting and editing. She also uses basic photo editing to get her work done and doesn’t like using much of the popular Adobe Photoshop editing tools.
“Great American Pastime” was shot with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and is composed of nine pictures layered together. She liked the photo, but wanted to see more out of it. After changing the vibrancy and other core features of the photo, she reached the point to where she saw her winning shot and was in love.
“I think back to 30 years ago and I wonder if I would have persevered and kept going, where would I have been?” DeCamp said. “I look at what I’ve done in my short amount of time recently and what I’ve accomplished; it makes you wonder. I’d just love to tell young Pam to keep going. At the time, to be published in the New York Times and other major publications before 21; I wonder why I didn’t keep pushing myself. There is a time and place for everything though and I’m doing what I want to do now. Full steam ahead.”