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Stephenson wins three awards at state photography contest

Butler County's Circuit Clerk, Allen Stephenson, recently was awarded three prizes during the 34th annual Exhibit of Professional Photographs held this year at the Alabama National Fair.

Stephenson was awarded a first and second place award in the wedding category of the professional division and a third place award in the black and white portraits of men category. Several professional photographers judged the competition many of whom have a Masters of Photography. The competition was judged on the criteria used by the Professional Photographers Association of America.

&uot;It started as a hobby and it still is my hobby,&uot; said Stephenson. &uot;I still enjoy taking photographs especially of people.&uot;

Stephenson said he considers himself an amateur but the contest requires that anyone who charges for their services enter in the professional division.

&uot;I got started about 15 years ago when friends and relatives asked me to take photos of their wedding,&uot; he said. &uot;About eight years ago I partnered with MacDonald Russell as Russell Stephenson Photography and we got more professional about it.&uot;

The first-place-winning photo was of Sherry Stinson Till was made in Calvin and Mary Rogers Poole's yard when the hibiscus was blooming. Stephenson says the pose is an older style very common 30 years ago.

&uot;Most young photographers haven't seen that pose and the older photographers remembered it quite well,&uot; he said. &uot;This gave it a great contrast to the styles of today's wedding photography.&uot;

The second-place-winning photo was of Ann Stiner Hamilton Gregory.

&uot;It's a more photojournalistic style shot, rather a candid kind of shot and much more casual,&uot; he said. &uot;The two photos are completely different styles.&uot;

The third photo to win an award was a black and white print taken of Sydney Allen Johnson for a CD cover soon to be released.

Stephenson said he learned photography mainly by experimenting and practice.

&uot;I don't have the technical gift that some people have but after all this is just my hobby,&uot; he said. &uot;I just took a lot of photographs and remembered what looked good. It's like any other hobby, if you only play once a month you're not going to be very good. If your going to be serious about it you've got to go out and take pictures. It takes practice.&uot;

Stephenson also said that the film developer has as much to do with the quality of the print as the photographer.

&uot;Most people don't realize the roll the developer plays in pictures,&uot; he said. &uot;They can make a good picture or ruin it. We have some wonderful labs we work with.&uot;

He said the three award-winning photos were developed at Photographic Solutions in Montgomery.

&uot;This is still just a hobby,&uot; he said. &uot;My real job is my real job and I keep it separate from what the people elected me to do.&uot;

Stephenson now has the option of entering his photographs in a sub-regional Alabama-Mississippi photography competition.