The Working Waterfront

Turning the island fundraiser upside down

Concept has folks sharing personal photos from uncharted territory

Phil Crossman
Posted 2020-01-24
Last Modified 2020-01-24

By Phil Crossman

Lest any feel we on these islands, largely isolated during our long Maine winters, might endure a less than inspiring existence, consider a recent proposal for the winter of 2020.  Like any small town, we on Vinalhaven all share in the successes and misfortunes of our fellow islanders and during any extended period, in this case, winter, there are enough of each to keep us all occupied.

Those suffering misfortunes, loss, disease, injury, and so on often benefit from knowing their fellow islanders are there to support them and the support offered is often manifest in fund-raising events of one kind or another, the proceeds then given to those afflicted.  Customarily those events are pot-luck dinners, bingos, musical nights, those sorts of things.

This year a few of the more adventuresome and imaginative minds have conspired to host an event or events sure to bring out even greater numbers even while acknowledging that a few might find it un-appealing. And greater participation, of course, means greater proceeds, more assistance to be offered and so support for the first of these events is growing. 

Sooner or later, nearly everyone gets a colonoscopy—stick with me please. And the option exists—perhaps the reader is unaware—for the patient to take possession of the resultant photographs, nearly always of very good quality and, I find, easily the equal of or as interesting as anything created by Willem de Kooning or Jackson Pollock, and so, the options are endless.

Our imaginative and enterprising team proposes that everyone bring those photographs home and select, frame, and display among other family favorites a few of the very best of these. On the appointed night—there’ll probably be several during the course of a customary island winter—all are invited to bring one that the subject feels most effectively speaks to him or her, the one best reflecting his own or her own character perhaps, to the site of the fund-raising event. There the photos will be displayed along the wall for all to admire and inspect and opine about until dinner is served after which the games will begin. 

All gathered will then be asked to judge the entrants and to do so, as in any contest of photography, based on:

  • Impact on the viewer: i.e. “Did it move me?” or “I wish I’d taken that photo”
  • Composition: are the elements of the photo working to complement one another
  • Artistic approach: although, truth be known, “approach” is fairly restricted in these instances
  • Lighting: natural sunlight is understandably suspect, and rarely used in this environment, although much attention should certainly be paid when it appears otherwise
  • Exposure: given the subject, this is likely to be a delicate subject and should be handled thus
  • Focus: i.e., did the photographer achieve his or her desired artistic results?
  • Difficulty: was there danger or were adverse circumstances or conditions encountered in securing the photograph?
  • Technique: are colors believable; has the photo been subject to digital enhancement and, if so, were the results believable?

The winner, Best Picture, will be chosen at the end of the evening and, unless the image reveals that he or she has his or her head up there, that person whose bottom was featured will be gifted with a nice set of placemats created from the winning photo and, finally, the photo and thus he or she declared (substitute your own choice of noun) of the month.

Phil Crossman lives on Vinalhaven.