By TANDI CHABWA
“It started as an idea on the back of a napkin over lunch,” said Stephen Dominick, on Niagara College’s fifth annual SickPix competition. “It’s become a blockbuster event.”
SickPix, run for and by Digital Photography students, took place March 27 in the Applied Health Auditorium. The event has become an increasingly exciting part of the Digital Photography program, and encourages students to get into the studio and shoot, says Dominick, program co-ordinator. He continued, “We take it very seriously. The prizes are quite spectacular. This year, I think we gave away close to $6,000 worth of prizes.”
Those prizes didn’t appear overnight. In addition to generous donations from Henry’s camera store, majority of the prize money came from the student committee, which took graduate portraits as a fundraiser. The student SickPix committee put a significant amount of work throughout the year to make the event possible. The committee handled responsibilities including planning fundraisers and creating category criteria, as well as a rubric for the judges.
“We had an incredible committee this year, they worked really hard,” said Grace Smith, a Digital Photography professor and SickPix staff co-ordinator.
“It was probably our best committee we’ve had. We raised the most money this year for our prizes.”
Lorie Peacock, SickPix chair member, and the winner of Best in Show for the second-year students, says the committee wanted to motivate students by offering substantial prizes.
“We really wanted to get prizes to award the students because this year we have all worked so hard. I really wanted to make sure that it rewarded the students for all of the hard work that they put in, as well as the time and stress sometimes,” Peacock said.
When asked about the importance of the event, she didn’t miss a beat.
“For me personally, I’ve
been to another college for a different program. But when I was there I felt like a number. There were so many of us and there was never one on one, or any recognition for all the hard work that you put in. So I feel like SickPix is something that steps up to another level in terms of getting the students involved. It inspires them to work hard, because you have the chance to win
prizes, and even just to have your work shown on the big screen for all of your friends and family and peers to see,” she said.
Peacock said students
appreciate the support of
those who come out annually to the show.
“It’s nice to know that there are people out there who appreciate all of the work that the students do, and all the time and effort we put into our work. It makes it worthwhile at the end of the year, and given all those opportunities, it’s really inspiring and makes you get a taste of the real world. You’re going to have people that critique you, you’re going to have people that want to see your work, or they don’t like it or you just have to learn to take the criticism and everything and use it to your advantage to get better.”
The program has come a long way in the five short years since it began. With 372 entries to the competition and an ample wait list for September enrolment, Dominick and Smith attribute the program growth to similar reasons.
“We’ve become quite well known in our program,” said Smith. “We have students come from Toronto who come here, from everywhere, to be a part of this program, that could have gone anywhere closer to home. They drive by four other schools to come all the way here. When we ask why they chose us, they say its because we’re very hands-on. We’re a very hands-on program.”
With the school year winding down, Best in Show winners Peacock and Caleb Vandervalk are looking to their futures in photography.
“I have dreams,” first-year student Vandervalk muses. “I’d love to have a studio and do some sort of photography business, but those are just dreams. In the end, I’ll probably just take pictures for the rest of my life. I don’t know if it will ever be my main source of income or if it’ll always just that hobby that I think is really cool.”
Peacock then noted, “I want to get a job in commercial photography and expand my portfolio. I also do like shooting photos of people, mostly outside, so like engagements and weddings, things like that. Those are two areas I’m looking to get into further. I want to have my own business, I’m not sure if I want to work for someone first, and then expand. It just depends on how the opportunities work out.”
For now, the SickPix competition has proven to be quite the golden opportunity for both of this year’s the winners.