RayKo's 10th Annual Plastic Camera Show Award Winners

It's up for two months, nearly, and each day I walk through the gallery at RayKo Photo Center and look at the images that I selected as the Best of Show and the Honorable Mentions for RayKo's 10th Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show. I still feel drawn to those five images, seen here. Michael Weitzman's Best of Show image, "Giddy Up" still follows me through the space, its haunted headlights bobbing up and down on a dusky and dusty road.

There are the honorable mention winners too: the only liquid emulsion print in the show is by Anette Marweld. Her image of a statue...or is it a human figure, naked and powerful shedding a cloak, rising like a phoenix from the ashes? It's hard to tell due to the nature of the print and the camera, but it is beautiful. And powerful.

Another honorable mention winning image that looks like nothing else in the exhibition is by Marky Kauffmann. Her use of a panoramic camera (I'm guessing it's the Ansco Pix Panoramic), held vertically and aimed at the sky, silhouetted branches reach down to me, a blazing gilded moon burns in the sepia sky. This is like an exploding golden sun...and yet it is too dark to be day. I'm titillating and terrified by this place, but I'd like to go there with the photographer and see what she sees...

And then there is Honorable Mention Winner Cromwell Schubarth. He's been in many of the past toy camera shows at RayKo. Always submitting tiny Polaroids or instant film pictures, often imperfect, often with their edges peeling, often with traces of paper and chemistry left on them from the peel apart film. Not this time.

Schubarth's Impossible Project Black and Orange Duochrome instant film image of "Leeonista" (shot with an Impossible I-1 camera) was perfect and perfectly different from the rest of the Polaroids in the show. And there were many of them this year (there are multiple Polaroid cameras that fall into the confines of this show with their plastic bodies and plastic lenses). There was a picture of a flying suit taken with a Holgaroid (a Holga Camera with a Polaroid Back) by Mary Mayer (I swear, the dried chemistry is still visible on this little beauty of a print), a tear drop of dew hanging on a branch taken with a Polaroid 680 by Danny Sanchez, some circular Polaroids with the new Impossible Project instant film that, yes, makes a round image on a piece of integral film. Wow, Nadine Defranoux and Rebecca Hackemann.

A newly married couple embracing in the desert on a new year's day by Rosario Estrella. She's right, their love is palpable.

Oh, those unique prints...they have a place in my heart...alongside the silver prints, but I digress. Also receiving an honorable mention was Peter Wiklund's image "City of Love", one of the few images taken with a Lomo Super Sampler in the show. The image slowly reveals through its multiple shutters, a couple embracing...but wait, are they real or is this another statue that has fooled me in my romanticism? (I was called too romantic yesterday – in terms of my picture taste – I'm taking that as a compliment).

And our last honorable mention went to Emily Earl for her picture of Daniel and his gun. The look on this young man's face and the amazing blue of the house prompted me to put this image on the front wall of the gallery. Daniel is watching all of us now.

There were other portraits that have stuck with me from this show, both for their beauty and their strangeness. Like Cody Swanson's self-portrait.

A mirror that doesn't reflect the viewer, a dream of identity. Cody is from Alaska and I wonder at the lushness of this fern forest he has found himself in. There is also Anne Walker's image of her daughter who perhaps nude, perhaps not, walks a Slip-N-Slide like she's on a runway. The color palette is from another time, some faded summer of my past.

There is another portrait of a miserable, but beautifully lit child at a wedding. This could be my son, but no, it is Stephanie Williamson's.

Then there is Adrienne Defendi's son, again depicted in a palette that isn't real, staring out at the boiling earth.

And too Heather Frandsen, her son peering out of a driftwood fortress. He might be nearing the age where he'll refuse to be photographed by her, but let's hope he can be persuaded a little bit longer.

Who said to shoot what you love? It's working for these artists. And it's working for me, walking through the galleries, where I couldn't give everyone an award, but I did fall in love repeatedly. With images like this one by Ellen Davis.

The owner of RayKo called this the best Holga panoramic he'd ever seen. He sits in front of her image even more than I do, dreaming of glaciers and distant lands, no doubt. While there are dreams in this show, like this image by Julia Rowinski where I'm not sure if this woman is falling or flying...

Or this documentary picture by Dave Getzschman from Standing Rock where I wonder at this horse and these men walking on the edge of the sky...

There are also hard documentary pictures that shake off my romantic nature, like a car accident photographed by André Speckert.

Or a protestor calling for the arrest of the president photographed by the tireless street photographer, Bob Gervais.

Or the picture we selected for our postcard by past featured artist, Thomas Alleman...

The range of imagery in this year's show was astounding and did nothing less than honor the 10-year history of our plastic camera show. The exhibition is up through April 23, 2017, so if you're anywhere near San Francisco, stop by and see this inspiring show (and also see the rest of the fantastic pictures. A cool 100 images in all).

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