After more than a year of social distancing due to COVID-19 restrictions, finding ways to connect with the community has proven difficult — and crucial.
As the nation reopens and vaccinations continue, The Stand Newspaper was eager to celebrate the faces and stories that define our community. To do so, a Syracuse Summer Photo Contest was offered, open to all, as well as reinstating Photo Walks. In July 2021, five walk options were offered throughout the city; 12 volunteers stepped forward to lead these walks; four local professionals served as photo contest judges. More than 120 photos were entered into the contest with 16 selected winners.
The Stand’s annual Photo Walk offers participants an opportunity to explore the beauty of Syracuse, especially in neighborhoods that often go overlooked. It has become the project’s most popular community offering and works to train community members on basic photography skills while also allowing staff and volunteers to directly engage with the community and residents The Stand serves.
“Last year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, we rethought plans to avoid large gatherings,” said Ashley Kang, director of the project. “I still wanted to find a way to capture this moment and how life continued in the city despite the pandemic. Thus we offered our first Photo Contest as a way to still collect images and document this truly unique moment.”
Ruthie Angrand, communications director for the city of Syracuse and one of four photo judges this year, says for her the Photo Walk is a way to showcase every aspect of the city, especially neighborhoods not often featured on a city website or visitors guide.
“It’s really nice to have images that show people, the diversity of the neighborhoods, the architecture… Every experience, every house, every person in Syracuse looks different, but we’re all part of this cool city,” Angrand said.
Jeff Perkins, a new volunteer and past participant, has consistently enjoyed the annual treks.
“(Participating in the walks) showed people’s pride in their homes and their neighborhood,” said Perkins, who has participated in three past Photo Walks.
Winning images will be displayed as part of the Urban Video Project, projected downtown on the side of the city’s art museum, allowing for a public presentation that can still be socially distanced and safe. Images will also be featured in the Fall edition of The Stand and online.