‘What the Community Thinks Is Important Right Now’: Image of La Jolla Tennis Club tops PhotoFest contest

Malia Barnes’ Best-in-Show winning photo of the La Jolla Tennis Club, ‘Symmetry, Since 1917.’

The inaugural La Jolla Historical Society Landmarks Group PhotoFest contest drew more than 90 submissions and the winners were announced at a reception April 7 at the Riford Library.

Entries were received from elementary school through adult-age applicants to promote historic preservation through photographic documentation of residential and Village architecture — especially historical landmarks that characterize the community today.

Best of Show went to Malia Barnes for her photo of the La Jolla Tennis Club, titled, “Symmetry, Since 1917.” Adults First Place went William Decker for an untitled early morning shot of Mary Star of the Sea Church. High School First Place went Robin Gong for “Scripps Pier.” Middle School First Place went to Keith Bainter for “Post Office.” Elementary School First Place went to Sydney Whitman for “Lemonscape.”

Event producers and winners: Julie Hatch, Sydney Whitman, Jim Tetlow, Robin Gong, Cali Liu, Malia Barnes, William Decker, Edwin Gisin, Susan Ketring and Susan Comden Courtesy

Judges were Karen Noble from the Museum of Photographic Art, San Diego; Carol Olten from the La Jolla Historical Society; and a rep from the University of San Diego art department. The top photographs will be on view through May 18 at the library, 7555 Draper Ave.

“The contest unfolded when the Landmarks committee talked about the importance of historic preservation and bringing that to the kids in school,” explained Susan Ketring, PhotoFest chair. “Then we started to talk about how it’s important to highlight preservation for everyone and we thought this contest would be a great way to bring in that visual element and bring in the community.”

And because the contest was not limited to buildings or landmarks, but anything that makes La Jolla unique, the response was great.

“We got 93 or 94 submissions,” Ketring said. “The majority were natural resource preservation photos and they are beautiful. Every photo was high quality and very competitive, very impressive.”

Best in Show winner Malia Barnes with Don Dewhurst, contest sponsor who provided the $500 prize Courtesy

Seonoid McArthur, La Jolla Landmarks Group chair, noted the Best in Show piece: “One of the most informative and rewarding things for us, was the comments from winner Malia Barnes. She is in her late 20s and she, along with a couple of high school students, said they went to the La Jolla Historical Society and got a list of landmarks and visited them and were inspired. The contest got them thinking about historic buildings in town, which was our goal.”

But ultimately, it would be the tennis courts Barnes frequents that would provide the inspiration. “(Barnes) is new to La Jolla and so she started playing tennis. Her image is of the courts, and the thing that’s marked her experience is the people who were welcoming to her. That is her La Jolla. I thought that was really interesting,” McArthur said.

The overall exhibit at the library, Ketring said: “visually shows elements of our community that are so important to preserve. It’s a visual diary of what the community thinks is important right now.”

Going forward, the photos will be used in various La Jolla Historical Society publications. It has not yet been decided whether the Landmarks Group will repeat the photo contest next year.

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