As the Arts Council of Lincoln County prepares to receive entries this weekend for its annual amateur photography contest, last year’s winner opens up about his shocking “Best of Show” title.
While Ron Santini, of Huntersville, has been working off and on with his camera for nearly 15 years, it wasn’t until five years ago that his passion for the hobby greatly increased.
Last year, his wife read an ad about the contest in a local publication and encouraged him to enter it to finally showcase his work to the world.
“I didn’t want to enter,” Santini admitted, “but my wife kept prodding me.”
With reluctance, he entered a photo he took of a waterfall at South Mountains State Park in Connelly Springs.
Santini’s still shocked he took home the coveted top award, along with a cash prize.
“I had no idea it would win anything,” he said. “That sort of convinced me that maybe my photos weren’t so bad after all.”
The man behind the lens felt he had already accomplished all he needed by just entering the contest.
This year, he plans to showcase another photo of nature in the competition — a scene from out west and one that he considers to be his favorite piece of photography from his collection.
The Lower Antelope Canyon picture, taken during his time in Page, Ariz., is just one of Santini’s numerous landscape photographs.
He also enjoys using his camera to capture animals and other acts of nature — including colliding water droplets.
He even has a mechanism in his garage for watching the process, he said.
Santini additionally stops by junkyards to photograph classic automobiles, sometimes getting lost in his work, he said, knowing he’s capturing snapshots of time.
“When you’re out there photographing,” he said, “you always come back with something new and unique. It’s not always the best, but you are actually capturing something in time that will never be again.”
And while he always seeks new ways to improve his hobby, Santini has no desire for making money off his art or growing experience. Instead, he finds self-fulfillment in the process.
“I’ve always been a visual kind of person,” he said, “and I was just drawn to it once I started taking pictures and saw what came out the other end. I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool,’ and kept it up.”
He has yet to check off two particular subjects on his bucket list including Africa’s annual Great Migration, the largest mammal migration of its kind in the world, along with Alaska’s Grizzly bear population and the colorful Northern Lights.
This year’s amateur art competition will accept entries 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Lincoln Cultural Center. All entries will be on public display Jan. 10-28.
“This competition is a brilliant opportunity for folks to celebrate their passion,” Arts Council Director Laurie Bostian said.
Photographers must be at least 18 to enter and take photos as a hobby, not a profession.
By eliminating certain categories from this year’s contest, Bostian said, more prize money will be available to winners.
For more information on how to enter, contest fees, categories and additional guidelines, call (704) 732-9044.
Individuals may also email email@example.com or visit artslincolnnc.org.
For further details on Ron Santini’s work, visit ronsantiniphotography.com.