by Caroline Baldwin
A picture is worth a thousand words, but for junior Mary Walker Rippe, a picture meant a second place prize at the Second Annual Teen Photo International Photography contest on May 12.
According to pmda.com, the contest is hosted by teenagerphotographer.com, a site for young photographers, and received submissions from 16–22-year-olds in 16 countries. Sponsors include National Geographic Student Exhibitions, Custom LSR, Peak Design and MindShift Gear. Proceeds will go to a charity called Rehabilitation through Photography, an organization that aims to advance the needs of the underprivileged through photography, according to pmda.com.
According to Rippe, she was not hoping for much other than to get her work out there, especially to the two judges. They included TIME Magazine Photographer and Producer Vaughn Wallace and Editor-in-Chief of Popular Photography Magazine Miriam Letchter. Said Rippe: “I was so surprised when I scrolled down the website’s page to find my image underneath second place. It was unreal, almost like Christmas morning.”
According to Rippe, she began exploring photography during the summer after seventh grade when her aunt allowed her to play around with her Nikon camera.
However, Rippe said, it was not until eighth grade when she began the RIS Independent Study program that she realized she wanted to pursue photography.
Said Rippe, “I originally had my heart set on creating a writing portfolio, but my mentor wisely encouraged me down a media arts path.” She said that she first heard about the contest through emails from photographersforum.com, which advertised that National Geographic would be sponsoring a photography contest. “I love all things National Geographic, so that sparked my interest,” said Rippe.
According to Rippe, photography is more than just snapping a simple shot. “A photo can be beautiful because of the lighting, or the story, or the framing. I rarely associate a beautiful photo with a beautiful subject,” she said.
Although Rippe’s award-winning photo was taken digitally, she said, “I personally prefer film because it’s so raw; with digital, anyone could take a million photos, insanely edit it and end up with a good image.”
As Rippe’s photography continues to flourish, she hopes to use her talents as a documentarian, whether it’s with recording devices or traditional cameras.
“I love the thrill of hunting for images and cultivating them into what I see in my head,” said Rippe.