FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (March 29, 2016) -- A Soldier and two family members won 10 awards between the three of them in the 2015 Army Digital Photography Contest.
The contest, hosted annually by the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation division of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, received 2,509 entries, from which 14 first, second and third-place winners were selected, along with 23 honorable mentions. Photographs were judged in seven categories -- animals, design elements, digital darkroom, military life, nature and landscapes, people, still life -- in two divisions: active duty and other eligible patrons, which include military retirees and family members.
Family member Mylan Dawson, of Fort Shafter, Hawaii, won design elements with "Blue and Gold Virgin River," took second in digital darkroom with "Early Morning in Prague," and was third in design elements with "Death Valley Curves." She also received an honorable mention in nature and landscape with "Punchbowl Falls."
Family member Kimberly Kendall, of Wiesbaden, Germany, took first places in nature and landscape with "Karakul Lake" and people with "Uyghur Shepherds." Her "Man with a Story" also earned an honorable mention in the people category.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Mizner, of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, took second place in the design elements category of the active duty division with "Old Glory." He also earned honorable mentions with "The Swing" in the people category and "Interstellar Apple" in still life.
"Old Glory came from a similar process I had seen a while ago," Mizner said. "It involved a 24-inch tall glass filled with water, olive oil and dish soap. I placed a small flag under the glass, and the design was magnified through the water and oil."
"The Swing," Mizner said was simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time -- and ready to shoot -- during a family outing at Cheekwood [Botanical Garden and Museum of Art] in Nashville, Tennessee.
"I happened to look over at my daughter in a swing and snapped a photo," he explained. "This is one of my all-time favorite photos. A poster size of it hangs on a wall in my home."
Mizner illustrated that one need not be in a special place or time to capture a "winning" photo.
"Interstellar Apple was me just practicing with flash photography and a macro lens," he said. "I set up a small darkroom in my kitchen and emptied my fridge of fruit and snapped away. I liked the apple the most as it had a nice space feel to it."
Mizner said someone from Fort Campbell Occupational Therapy handed him a flier about the 2015 Army Digital Photography Contest, so he "figured I would see if I was good enough to place in the competition."
Now Mizner wishes he had heard about the contest sooner.
"It would have pushed me earlier in my photography hobby career to explore more places and ideas," he said.
"Photography is a way for me to see things in a different way. Since starting more than 10 years ago, I look at everything different now. It's nice to stop and see things for color, composition and beauty. My success, or placement, in this competition means I need to work harder. First place is my goal now."
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Juan Jusino was surprised to learn that he took first place in still life with "Game over man, game over!" The title of his photo of a toy action hero was inspired by the movie "Aliens."
"At the time, it was just an experiment, working with toys and lighting," said Jusino, stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. "In the movie there's a line: 'Game over, man -- game over!' When I made that submission, I thought that was one of my weakest photos, but art is subjective."
Jusino also earned an honorable mention in the people category with "Purple Haze," a photo of the band HUNNY performing in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Jusino, whose forte is concert photography, began competing in the Army Digital Photography Contest in 2014 and promptly earned an honorable mention with "The Moment When You Realize You Have Arrived," taken at the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill at Times Square in New York City.
"It's good that the Army sponsors this," Jusino said. "It's a great avenue for service members to show our talent.
"It makes me feel good to find out that my work received recognition -- makes me want to keep trying each year," Jusino said. "To get even an honorable mention is great. To do so two years in a row is pretty humbling, and it makes me very proud."