Bega, Karlen place in Maui Fair’s Photo Salon

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Photo by Kelsie Chong

Seniors Rachel Bega and Pi’ikea Karlen visit the photography exhibit at the Maui Fair after their entries placed in the statewide competition.

By Kelsie Chong, features co-editor

Seniors Rachel Bega and Pi’ikea Karlen were recognized for their photography in the 89th Maui Fair Photo Salon this past weekend.

After being moved up from the youth to the expert category in the monochrome division, Bega placed third. Karlen received honorable mention in the youth, color category.

This was the first year Karlen submitted a photo for the photo salon. She said that in the past, she didn’t care to enter.

“I was so excited,” she said about hearing the good news that she placed among 170 other photography competitors in Hawai’i.

Her photo, Fashionista, was “a fun and last-minute photo shoot,” she said. The subject of her photo is of her friend, Penny Baggs who is currently a freshman at the University of Colorado.

The inspiration came from Karlen’s imagination. “I like my artwork to just be fantastical,” she said.

Karlen hopes that anyone who stops to look at her photo will feel a sense of flight and gratefulness. “I want people to be thankful for the little things in life,” she said.

Bega said that having her photo pushed up to the expert division alone was an honor. In addition, having placed did not seem real at first.

“I was kind of shocked, really shocked actually,” she said.

Like Karlen, Bega had not entered the fair’s competition in any of the previous years, but she has participated in other photography competitions.

Her piece, Verge of Vanishing, featured Karlen in a twirling motion, producing a blurry effect in the photo.

The inspiration for Bega’s picture came from a master mimic assignment in her digital photography class.  After selecting a professional photographer, students were to mimic the style of photography to the best of their ability.

“I was trying to copy the style of Ilse Bing,” Bega said.

Through this picture, Bega hopes that her audience sees past the blurred subject to feel an emotion. “I want people to feel a sense of loneliness and disappearing to the world,” she said.

Digital Photography teacher Ms. Angie Abe was not fully surprised to hear that Bega and Karlen had placed in the photo salon.

“Traditionally, they have won [in other art/photo competitions]. It’s not the first time,” Mrs. Abe said.

Currently a third-year digital photography student, Bega stands out through her strong visual voice.

“She is very unique and does not mimic others. She develops her own style,” Mrs. Abe said.

Karlen, now in her fourth year of digital photography, which is an advanced portfolio class, comes with “a lot of knowledge and natural talent,” Ms. Abe said.

Both girls demonstrate passion, as well as humility through their work ethic. “I think when you’re passionate about something, you work hard at it, and you’re willing to improve, I think that should be recognized,” Ms. Abe said.

The photo salon accepts entries in three categories. The youth category accepts entries from participants 18 years and younger. Any amateur photographer can enter the open category,  and the expert category is for professional photographers.

The opportunity for youth to exhibit at the fair is a special one. John Hugg, chairman of the photo salon said, “Generally, judges enjoy the youth’s photos more than the experts and open ones.”

Bega hopes to attend an art college and major in musical theater. She said that photography is more of her hobby and something she knows she can fall back on.

As for Karlen, she would like to attend an art college and pursue photography, but the cost of tuition is, “over-the-top ridiculously expensive,” Karlen said. “I am thinking of using my money to travel the world and photograph it along the way [instead].”