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East vs. West photography competition

Sharp shooters of the west:
Six local photographers take part in East vs. West competition and exhibit.

By KIRSTEN GORUK, Herald-Tribune staff.

Six Grande Prairie-based photographers and another three from Edmonton have teamed up in an effort to out-shoot their eastern counterparts.

The team is a part of the East vs. West Photo Competition, an event that encourages the creativity and method of interpretation for 18 photographers across Canada.

“It’s a friendly competition to challenge them,” said Sean Trostem, captain for Team West and owner of Prairie Ranger Photography in the city.

As a part of Alberta Art Days, the competition officially opens with an exhibit at the Centre for Creative Arts on Sept. 9.

A total of 50 categories were divided among team members. Some are as straightforward as vampire/werewolf and pinup, to ones such as body in motion, fantasy or the four elements – earth, air, water, fire.

“You get to think outside of the normal box of what photography is. It’s art versus work,” said Candice Popik, a team member and owner of Popik Photography in Grande Prairie.

She and Trostem worked together last year on a similar competition called the Five Alarm Photo Project. The project pitted five shooters against each other in five categories.

It was around that time that Trostem and Nick Gaines, a New Brunswick-based photographer, had the idea of taking it a step further.

“As I was doing that project, he mentioned that we should try something from either end of the country on a larger scale,” Trostem said.

As team captains, Trostem and Gaines put out the call for photographers to join their side. At first, Trostem said it was hard to get people involved.

Popik believes that part of the reason photographers held back was fear that they weren’t good enough.

“I think a lot of people get intimidated by it,” she said. “They think they need to be at a higher skill level, but it’s just a neat chance to learn and be creative. There are no rules.”

Trostem sought out a lot of the team himself, talking to photographers he knows and has worked with. He and Gaines also took the time to choose a greener member.

“Both of us picked up someone who was fairly new to the photography business, as a kind of mentorship,” he said, adding that those on the team who were a little more intimidated were assigned fewer categories.

Although the competition officially kicked off in January, not all the photographers were quick to get to work.

“A lot of us started late, waited for the good weather,” Trostem admitted.

The design crews and stylists who have donated their time for a number of photo shoots left the photographers feeling spoiled. Watson’s Foto Source in Grande Prairie is also sponsoring the team and doing all the prints for the exhibit.

Having participated in both this competition and the Five Alarm project, Popik finds the team atmosphere of the East vs. West to be especially fun.

“The nice thing about this one is that because we’re on one team, even with our own categories, we’ve been able to help each other out and make fun of the East together.”

Team member Heather Ballek recently finished all her assigned categories.

“It took me out of my comfort zone. It was difficult at times, but the fun overruled,” she said.

Over the next few weeks, her team members will wrap up with their assignments so that everything will be ready for the opening gala a month from now. Team West’s 50 photos will be framed and two LCD screens will display the Team East images.

A public vote will take place on the night of each gala. The top three images from each team will then be put online and voted on for the top photo.

View article on Daily Herald-Tribune website.

Learn more about Alberta Arts Days in Grande Prairie.