Annual Faces of Evanston photo contest seeks ‘simplicity’ for 2012

Joseph Diebold

The winning photographs of the eighth annual Faces of Evanston contest might be more understated than usual.

Dr. Stamata Blanas, an Evanston dentist and founder of the contest, selects the theme each year. This time around, the theme is “simplicity.”

Previous themes have included “the wards of Evanston” and “reflection.” Blanas said this year she wanted the theme to return the contest to its essence.

“It encompasses the energy and the spirit behind the community and looking at the true essence of what makes this community special,” she said. “It’s basically focusing on the simplest actions that we overlook each and every day. It’s the energy and simplicity that makes things so special.”

Blanas organized the first contest in 2005 through the Kiwanis Club of Evanston. She said the contest’s goal is to increase community spirit and appreciation for the city.

“The contest is to show the beauty and the majesty that makes Evanston such an amazing community,” Blanas said. “With our rich arts culture, it’s a way of helping build community and interact.”

Blanas said the contest’s organizers try to add innovations each year to keep the contest fresh. Last year, a video category was added for the first time. Communication junior Matthew Zellner won first place in the inaugural category with his video “Lifeguards.” Other recent innovations include the addition of a translator to the contest’s website to make it more accessible and a “Voice of the People” award that is determined by an online vote.

Blanas said she is still trying to improve the contest’s marketing, especially to NU students. Zellner, who found out about the contest while living in Evanston over the summer, agreed there are more opportunities to market to students.

“You only see it downtown in Evanston businesses,” Zellner said. “If you could just market it to a few particular departments, places like the art department, the RTVF department, they could really put together some really quality submissions.”

Zellner credited the contest’s outreach into Evanston for his decision to participate last year.

“I saw a flyer and thought, ‘Well, I could probably put together something pretty good for that,'” he said. “I thought it was interesting they were asking for people to talk about what makes Evanston Evanston.”

Zellner said he had an advantage because fewer students were in Evanston to enter during the summer, so his entry offered a fresh perspective on the city.

The contest began accepting entries for 2012 on April 15 and continues through Aug. 31. A panel of judges will determine the winners, with cash prizes reaching up to $200. Both amateurs and professionals may enter, with a $5 fee per entry. The winners will be rotated in public throughout the city, including at Evanston Township High School and Evanston Public Library.

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