Sigma had the distinct pleasure of hosting our very first, scholarship winner, Jamie Russell. Jamie’s prize winning photos poignantly reflected conditions among the homeless in the Buffalo area. She is a recent high school graduate going on to Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she will major in photography and minor in journalism.
What made hosting Jamie such a pleasure was Jamie herself. Upon meeting Jamie her warmth and enthusiasm was immediately felt. She was so appreciative of having won the contest and for the opportunity to visit our facility and made it a point to tell us so every chance she had. In getting to know Jamie, we were more impressed with how bright, resourceful, organized, focused and ambitious she is. Her concern for the human condition is clearly what motivates her and moves her forward in both her photography and career aspirations. After meeting the entire Sigma staff and having a bite of breakfast, Jamie picked out three lenses as part of her prize, the 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG Macro, 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC and the 24mm F1.8 EX DG Macro then Sigma executives presented her with the $5,000 prize. (Of course the occasion called for the traditional “big” check!) After a full out photo shoot we whisked her off to Manhattan for a full day of photo shoot.
Our first stop in NYC was Central Park where Jamie had never been. As we strolled through the park, we visited the boat house, the fountain and the beautiful tree-lined Mall. Jamie, admittedly not really a nature photographer, couldn’t help but to snap away at the scenery, mesmerized by the trees that lined the Mall all ran into one another and created a canopy and transported us from NYC to vast countryside. I must add that it was brutally hot this day, but that didn’t stop Jamie from running, crouching, standing in direct sunlight and almost getting left behind a few times in an effort to get the shot she was after!
Leaving the Park we walked down 5th Avenue toward MoMA which was our next destination. Jamie found so many details of the buildings along the way worthy of photographs as she is also a lover of architecture and here her deep appreciation for the contrast between the old buildings set amongst the new was bolstered. She even managed to capture a bit of the human condition in New York City capturing a shot of a shopping cart overloaded containing all of one person’s most worldly and necessary possessions acquired from the streets. On the steps which began at street level, started out wide and continued to the top where it narrowed, was a man sleeping, nestled in blankets on that top step where he fit almost perfectly in length; his back to us so as not to see his face; striking photos but all too familiar NYC scenes.
The walk was long and it was hot and we were hungry, so lunch was in order.
After lunch, we continued our trip to MoMA where we viewed two exhibits: Pictures by Women: A history of Modern Photography and Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century. It was in the Cartier-Bresson exhibit that Jamie expressed her understanding and appreciation of where photography started relative to where it is today. We then moved on to view the impressionists paintings where Jamie was able to see her most favorite painting, Starry Night by Vincent van Vogh. This was highlight for her and we were glad to have shared it with her.
Then it was off to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Public Library and Grand Central station; we refer to this as the pure architectural portion of the tour. It was taking photos of these structures that the 8-16mm proved to be an indispensable and highly capable lens. Never having used a wide angle lens before, Jamie was in awe of the breadth of this lens and what she was able to compose within one frame. The 8-16mm lens was a hit with new Sigma enthusiast, Jamie!
Our last stop ended at Times Square. After having dinner in the Theatre district with the little time we had left, we were off to explore one of the busiest areas in Manhattan. The chaos was overwhelming, but it was an interesting time of day to be when the sun was about to set. The light bouncing off of the buildings created an attractive atmosphere.
Jamie is an amazing young woman. We are pleased and proud to have had the opportunity to expand her travel experience, provide her with new photo equipment so that she can continue to develop her photographic skills and begin her college career. Most importantly, we are better for having met her as she reminded us that photography is a passion; it’s something that lives in someone’s soul and that is how the world’s most remarkable, indelible and inspiring photographs are born. We wish Jamie luck and long, successful photographic career. Sigma stands ready to support this endeavor.