Photography without boundaries

In response to the remarkable number of unconventional photographs we regularly receive at the newspaper promoting everything from out-of-focus rock bands to underexposed potatoes, we recently decided to ask our readers to send us some of their worst photos.

We weren’t expecting much. After all, people can be a little touchy about their photographic faux pas. They tend to bury them under last year’s tax returns or mail them off to relatives they don’t particularly like.

But not our readers.

Vying for a free dinner at Vacaville’s Merchant & Main Grill and Bar as part of the newspaper’s “Photography Without Boundaries” contest, readers from throughout Solano County proudly mailed us their very worst photos.

Kevin Johnson of Vacaville sent us his picture of something named Walter in a Christmas tree. We can tell you that Walter appears to be one cute little fur ball. Other than that, we haven’t been able to determine exactly what Walter is.

Maxine Blake of Vacaville submitted a triple-exposed Christmas party while Vacaville’s Louise Stith sent in a 45-degree picture of someone navigating the interior of a streetcar in Zagreb, Croatia.

A favorite came from Kelly and Chris Wigley of Vacaville. At first glance, it appears to be two clowns fighting with a mule in a wheat field during the bombing of Baghdad.

According to the Wigleys, however, the photo actually shows “Medieval dinner show jousting.”

(Uh-huh. Pass the salad, pass the broad sword…)

Kathy Summ of Travis Air Force Base sent a collection of creatively double-exposed construction site photos along with some red-eyed severed heads from what appears to be a graduation ceremony.

Vacaville’s Cindy Woodbury submitted an out-of-focus photograph she’s been treasuring for nearly 40 years. It’s a photo of (we think) a motorcade bearing president John F. Kennedy through Oakland in 1962.

“If you squint real hard and use your imagination, you can darn near see JFK sitting in the back seat!” Woodbury wrote.

We had to agree with Woodbury – at least the part about squinting real hard and using our imaginations…

The prize-winning photograph (pictured below) came from our youngest contestant, 5-year-old Kendra Person of Vacaville.

According to her mom, Susan, the photographer was busily snapping pictures on her last day of kindergarten at Jean Callison Elementary School when she zeroed in on two friends. Like all the best photographers, Kendra put a little of herself into the picture. Unfortunately, it was her finger…

For her decidedly avant garde photo cropping technique, Kendra was unanimously chosen the best of the worst by our judges and awarded dinner for two at Merchant & Main.

Congratulations, Kendra. You’ve helped us redefine “Photography Without Boundaries.”

Originally published September 9, 2001