DHS junior wins photography contest

Junior Alex Braley’s photo of junior Kaitlin Torres was entered in the 2019 Merriam High School Visual Arts Competition. Out of over 1,000 submissions, Braley’s piece took first place.

Alex Braley

Junior Alex Braley’s photo of junior Kaitlin Torres was entered in the 2019 Merriam High School Visual Arts Competition. Out of over 1,000 submissions, Braley’s piece took first place.

Ella Fixsen, News Editor

The power of digital communication is becoming more prominent as modern technology continues to advance, and De Soto High School junior Alex Braley provides an obvious example of what the work of a camera can accomplish. While most students at DHS are aware of Braley’s photographic talent, he recently decided to showcase his powerful artwork on a larger scale. Braley entered the Merriam High School Visual Arts Competition, and the results are a direct reflection of Braley’s impactful work. 

“They hold the contest every year. This year there were over 1,000 entries overall, and they only selected 150 finalists that actually got shown in the gallery, where everyone’s pieces are up,” Braley said. “There are four categories: 2D, 3D, photography and computer-generated art. I entered photography, and I won first place.” 

While Braley received full credit for his award-winning piece, he gives recognition to the DHS art teacher Tim Mispagel, who helped him reach this point. 

“The piece that I entered was Mispagel’s doing. He gave us a project in AP Art, and he asked us to put our concentration, which is kind of like all the pieces that you focus on throughout the year, into one word, and I knew it was going to be so hard,” Braley said. “But from there, I came up with the idea for my concentration. I wanted to show how the body is beautiful and how it can be artful and pretty.”

Braley of course had inspiration for his piece, but most aspects were based solely upon his own ideas.

“I knew I wanted to do the stamps, because I saw a picture on Pinterest of word stamps all over a person’s face and I thought it was super cool. The lighting and everything else was my idea. I knew I wanted it to be a black background with the silhouette. The framing I just kind of messed around with,” Braley said. 

Being Braley’s first award-winning piece, the photo was undoubtedly well done. However, Braley still noticed some flaws in the piece. In response, he has attempted to incorporate those flaws into the message of the photo. 

“There’s a lot of things that I want to change about this photo to add to it because if you look closely, you can see that one of her false lashes is coming off,” Braley said. “It annoyed me at first, but then I felt like it goes with the theme of beauty and feeling beautiful even with imperfections. But the photo itself is really growing on me.”

Even though Braley has noticed some small imperfections within his piece, he still takes pride in his photo and appreciates the details that make it special. 

“I’m honestly really proud of this picture, which is kind of fun to say because I usually take pictures that I’m not super excited about, but this one I knew was a good picture,” Braley said. “The coolest part is the piece of hair that goes above her nose and then around her lip, because if it went straight down it would look kind of weird. I think the way it is just frames the picture really well.”

Junior Kaitlin Torres, the model in Braley’s photo, also feels that Braley’s piece deserves praise, not only because of his hard work, but also because of the how the image has impacted her.

“The photoshoot meant a lot to Alex, because he clearly had an artistic vision. The photos turned out great and winning the contest was reassurance to Alex that his vision worked,” Torres said. “It was cool for me too because the photos are so body positive, and that’s how I’m trying to live my daily life.”

Winning the contest has impacted Braley’s life in numerous ways, especially when it comes to his photography skills and his confidence as a whole. 

“It’s just really exciting because this is probably the first actual first place award that I’ve ever won, and I’ve never felt like my work has been good enough for first place,” Braley said. “It’s such a big competition, and the fact that I got first out of all those pieces is crazy. It really inspired me to create more.”

Braley wants to further his photography career and plans to create more pieces as his skills continue to grow. 

“I want to make more stuff now and keep growing, because I know I can do better than that picture,” Braley said. “I know this photo is not the best that I can do because I still have so much more to learn.”