Loyd P. Lowry of Hinton, Cindy Vance of Cool Ridge and John Comerci of Beckley took top honors in The Register-Herald’s Amateur Photography Contest announced Tuesday evening during a reception at the newspaper’s office on North Kanawha Street.

Lowry’s “Polaris Swirl at Babcock,” taken at Babcock State Park near Clifftop, won first place in the Judges’ Choice competition. Vance won first place in the People’s Choice Award – determined by over 1,900 online votes at the newspaper’s website – for “Sails of Tranquility” taken at Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. Comerci picked up the Editor’s Award, chosen and presented by the newspaper’s editor, J. Damon Cain, for a photo he titled “Boca Grande Pass” shot in Boca Grande, Fla.

The reception at the newspaper was a celebration of the photographic arts, celebrating two exhibits — one featuring 28 photos from the competition and the other, the Southern West Virginia Professional Photographers Exhibit, highlighting the work of eight professional photographers from southern West Virginia. 

Rick Barbero, The Register-Herald’s chief photographer and contest coordinator, said the idea for the exhibits came to him after he noticed bare, empty walls in the front lobby of the newspaper’s office. 

“I wanted to have something for our staff and the general public to view,” Barbero explained. “I was able to pull together eight award-winning professional photographers, and each of them provided four outstanding images that helped fill our lobby walls.” 

The eight professional photographers, who also served as judges in the competition, are Steve Brightwell, photographer for the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History at the Culture Center in Charleston; Perry Bennett, chief photographer for the West Virginia Legislature; Tom Hindman, retired from Charleston Daily Mail; Ed Rehbein, photographer and writer focusing on sharing the beauty of nature in Appalachian; Andrea Martin, a southern West Virginia children’s photographer; Tim Tilly, certified professional photographer through Professional Photographers of America; Jenny Harnish, video producer/photographer at The Register-Herald; and Barbero.

“After hanging the exhibit, I thought it would be really cool to add an amateur photo competition and just pick out four of the top images to be displayed with the Southern West Virginia Professional Photographers Exhibit,” Barbero explained, “but this competition grew into something very special after receiving 294 entries.”

Barbero said judging the competition was a difficult task because so many great images were submitted – 294 entries in all.

Both exhibits are open to the public for viewing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the newspaper’s office.

Barbero said the process has been a fun experience, allowing both amateur and professional photographers to come together to share their talents. 

“We have a lot of very talented photographers in our area and this was one way to spotlight our local artists,” he said. 

Those recognized in the Amateur Photo Contest include: 

Judges’ Choice Award 

First Place — Loyd P. Lowry of Hinton, for “Polaris Swirl at Babcock” taken at Babcock State Park near Clifftop.

Second Place — April Ball of Oak Hill, for “Frog in Flower” taken in her backyard in Oak Hill. 

Third Place — Holly Pittman, of Beckley, for “Cotton Tail” taken at Coal Bucket Coffee Shop in Mount Hope. 

Fourth Place — Cindy Vance, of Cool Ridge, for “Sails of Tranquility” taken at Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. 

People’s Choice Awards

First Place — Cindy Vance, of Cool Ridge, for “Sails of Tranquility” taken at Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. 

Second Place — April Ball of Oak Hill, for “Frog in Flower” taken in her backyard in Oak Hill. 

Third Place — Holly Pittman, of Beckley, for “Cotton Tail” taken at Coal Bucket Coffee Shop in Mount Hope. 

Fourth Place —  Loyd P. Lowry, of Hinton, for “Polaris Swirl at Babcock” taken at Babcock State Park near Clifftop.

Editor’s Choice 

John Comerci of Beckley, for “Boca Grande Pass,” taken in Boca Grande, Fla., at Boca Grande Pass.

Semi-Finalists 

Krystal Grose, of Bluefield, for “Belle” taken at a cattle farm in Princeton. 

George Stephen Elswick, of Mount Nebo, for “Persistence” taken at Mill Creek in Ansted. 

Leisa L. Moran, of Beckley, for “Monarch Butterfly on Purple Flower” taken in Beckley. 

John Comerci, of Beckley, for “Boca Grande Pass,” taken in Boca Grande, Fla., at Boca Grande Pass.

Honorable Mentions

Theresa Becker, of Beckley, for “A Day at the River,” taken at Glade Creek on the New River.

Nichole Meadows for “Summersville Lake” taken in Summersville. 

Jennifer Ayers for “Horses Eye” taken in Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. 

Dave Green, of Crab Orchard, for “Mother Daughters Sunrise” taken in Clearwater, Fla.

Karen Meadows, of Shady Spring, for “Old Hern’s Mill Bridge In Fall” taken in Lewisburg. 

Sarah Coffey, of Fayetteville, for “Class of 2018,” taken at Coffey Farm in Gatewood.

Billie Bolen, of Midway, for “Daydreaming” taken at Lake Stephens in Surveyor. 

Jeffrey A. Almond, of Beckley, for “Misty Morning Stranger,” taken at Lake Sherwood in Greenbrier County.

Jeffrey A. Almond, of Beckley, for “Calm After the Storm,” taken at Lake Sherwood in Greenbrier County.

Clarissa Hanks, of Summersville, for “Almost Heaven” taken at Keslers Cross Lanes. 

Andrew Lawrence, of Lerona, for “The Farm,” taken in Athens.

Marissa Fanary, of Crab Orchard, for “Moody Lillies” taken in Thurmond.  

Audrey Williams, of Daniels, for “Swiping Second Location” taken at Central Greenbrier Little League in Lewisburg. 

David M. Gravely, of Beckley, for “Cathedral Falls” taken in Gauley Bridge

Jeff Hendrix, of Fayetteville, for “Tracks of Autumn” taken in Thurmond. 

Ashley Fox, of Washington, DC (Beckley native), for “Stillness in blue” taken at lake house in Alberta, Canada.

Rachel Leia Cole, of Beckley, for “The Old Homestead” taken at Twin Falls State Park.

Holly Pittman, of Beckley, for “To Infinity and Beyond” taken in Cool Ridge at The Severino’s Farm. 

Hannah Cantley, of Ballard, for “Double Rainbow and Yellow Flowers” taken in Forest Hill. 

Vicki Aylor, of Daniels, for “Relaxing Raccoon” taken in Silver Spring, Md. 

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