People, Places & Things

Our 15th annual photo contest

Panel of Judges

●Dustin Mack, chief curator, History Museum at the Castle

●Maddie Uhlenbrauck, marketing communications manager, Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau

●Karl Volkman, The Karl Volkman Group, First Weber Realtors

●Jim Weidert, senior marketing and public relations manager, Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of GlassModerator

●Shannon Van Grinsven, owner, PeoplePaperPrints Photography


Sincere thanks to the area businesses that have generously provided our winners with the following prizes:

GRAND PRIZE: One night stay at CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel, downtown Appleton

FIRST PRIZES: $75 toward a stay, dinner or golf at Bridgewood Resort Hotel & Conference Center in Neenah

SECOND PRIZES: $50 toward custom framing at The Hang Up Gallery in Neenah

THIRD PRIZES: $25 gift card from Wildbird & Backyard in Appleton



“Trestle Trail Walk in May” by Steven E. Anderson, Appleton

After taking photos of a bald eagle family on Appleton’s new Lawe Street Trestle Trail in May, photographer Steven E. Anderson couldn’t resist capturing this scene with the setting sun illuminating a swarm of chironomids, otherwise known as lake flies, around a group of people. Our judges appreciated the positive way Anderson was able to capture something that is often seen as a nuisance. “Lake flies have never looked so glamorous,” Judge Dustin Mack said. The new trail opened last August, transforming an abandoned railroad trestle into a10-foot-wide trail that spans the Fox River near downtown Appleton. “I think it illustrates the excellent use of natural resources in the Fox Cities with the welcome expansion of hiking trails for recreation,” Anderson says. Judge Karl Volkman agreed. “Our ability [in the Fox Cities] to go and see nature and take a breath is something we shouldn’t take for granted.”



“Daydream” by Joe Lukasik, Neenah

It’s fun to imagine all the people who have daydreamed inside Appleton’s Fox River Mills Apartments. Photographer Joe Lukasik snapped this image of his then 12-year-old daughter, Julia, in 2016 after his family had just moved into the building. “The photograph captured a very profound moment in [Julia’s] life, as she had just walked into our apartment for the first time, having lived in Georgia her entire life,” Lukasik says. “As she gazed out the window, she pondered about the new adventures and friendships she would make in the Fox Cities.” Our judges appreciated the mood of this winning image, remarking on the familiarity of the building and its place in Fox Cities history. As this photo reveals, now Lukasik and his family are part of that story.


“Staying Cool” by Allison Mischler, Kaukauna

You can imagine photographer Allison Mischler’s amusement when she returned home from work one hot spring day and foundher husband, Tom, cooling off in his “trailer” pool with a beer. She immediately snapped this winning shot. “Tom recently retired after 43 years of working shift work, weekends and holidays,” Mischler explains. “It’s time [for him] to relax and take time for himself.” Our judges got a charge out of the story this photograph told, and referred to Tom affectionately as “The Dude.” “He’s a bit of an inventor,” Judge Weidert said. “We all know that guy. The photo quality is kitschy like the subject matter.”


“Summer Nights” by Lesley Vroman, Winneconne

On an unseasonably hot 90-degree June day, there’s no better place to be than on the water. Winneconne resident Lesley Vroman captured this image of summer fun on Lake Poygan. After two days of baseball games in Markesan and a quick stop for ice cream in Ripon, these 11-year-old boys took to the lake to cool off on a beautiful night. “As a parent this is exactly where I wanted to be, hoping this night would create a childhood memory for each of them,” says Vroman, who believes the Fox Cities allow for many opportunities in and around the water. “While some may perceive lake life is just for up-north weekend adventures, our Fox Cities lakes, rivers and streams are just waiting to be explored.” Judge Volkman, who loved the candidness of the image, agreed. “We have so much opportunity with water here, if we don’t take advantage of it something is wrong with us.



“A Short Walk Under Glass Stars” by Emma Schmudlach, Greenville

Greenville resident Emma Schmudlach was taking a winter drive last February and found herself in downtown Neenah. Captivated by the lights of the city, Schmudlach decided to park her car and take a walk which is when she discovered the light-swathed alleyway captured in her winning photograph. The alleyway is a favorite location for many photographers, but our judges liked the perspective of this particular photo, as well as the side of the Fox Cities it reveals. “It speaks to what we have in the Fox Cities-cute little alleyways, but also a lively big city feel too,” Judge Uhlenbrauck said. Schmudlach appreciated the special attention given to the urban space. “I believe this photo reveals that with just a little bit of light, anywhere can feel magical,” she says.


“Umbrella” Michael Ziemann, Appleton

A post-dinner Dairy Queen run turned into a photographic opportunity for Appleton resident Michael Ziemann. While waiting in the drive-thru line, Ziemann and his partner watched the ominous sky turn from light blue to almost black in a matter of minutes. “We knew there was going to be a good chance of hail, so we joked about our exit strategy which involved racing across the street to seek refuge under the Shell station’s ‘umbrella.’” Judge Weidert liked the photo’s unexpected subject matter. “You don’t think about turning a gas station into art and this showcases its cool architecture,” he said. “I’m a big fan of the symmetry and the good nighttime light that the storm is creating,” moderator VanGrinsven added. Ziemann says while there can be plenty of mundane things about life in Northeast Wisconsin, the weather certainly isn’t one of them. “The seasons we experience here keep you on your toes —you can always count on the next day to bring something new.”


“Millside Marina” by Joe Lukasik, Neenah

Neenah resident Joe Lukasik had been taking pictures of his daughter and her friend at Shattuck Park’s waterfront when he noticed the backdrop of the paper mill as a photo opportunity. “The paper industry has been the lifeblood of the economy of the Fox Cities for over a century and recreational boating represents one of the area’s favorite pastimes,” he says. “These are the primary reasons I chose to live in Neenah.” Judge Mack enjoyed how the photo reflects the region’s use of water for both industry and amusement. “It reflects the region’s history with the paper mills on the water, but there’s also a recreational component to the water and they don’t always go hand in hand,” he said. “This photo shows how they are coexisting.”



“Togetherness” by Jim Ruzicka, Neenah

Last spring, a great horned owl couple hatched three eggs in a tree hollow in Little Chute’s Heesakker Park. The little family was quite the attraction to visitors as well as owl enthusiasts and photographers from across the state. About six week after the owlets left the nest, photographer Jim Ruzicka set out to find them in the surrounding woods. To his surprise and delight, Ruzicka was able to spot the owlets among the newly-leafed trees still sitting together. “Just finding an owl in a forest is exciting. Seeing three owlets together was amazing and actually being able to get a picture of them all looking in the same direction was something I’d never expected,” Ruzicka says. Our judges were impressed by the timing of the shot, as well as the photo’s composition. “It looks like an album cover,” joked Judge Uhlenbrauck, “like they might be starting a band!”


“Blue Heron Fishing” by Steven E. Anderson, Appleton

Sometimes getting that perfect shot takes commitment and, luckily, photographer Steven Anderson had the resolve to make this one happen. Just before sunset on a June evening, Anderson was taking photos of the great blue herons, great egrets and pelicans below the dam on the Fox River in Vulcan Park. To get close enough, Anderson had to camp out in the foliage to not scare away the wildlife. “Getting this close to these amazing animals, one realizes just how beautiful they really are and truly shows off the abundance and diversity of wildlife that we are fortunate enough to live with in the Fox Cities,” Anderson says. Our judges were captivated by the prehistoric-looking fowl Anderson photographed. “The photo has a rhythm to it with the flowing water,” Judge Weidert said. “You can almost hear it.”

“Cheeky Goldfinch on Prairie Flowers” by Catherine McKenzie, Appleton
Appleton resident Catherine McKenzie took this photograph lastsummer at her home near City Park as validation of her hard gardening work. “We’ve been planting lots of native Wisconsin prairie plants in our front yard to help give food and habitat to the birds, butterflies and other critters, so it was wonderful to see this cheeky little goldfinch enjoying the seeds of this cup plant,” McKenzie says. Our judges each liked the photo for different reasons. Judge Mack liked the contrast of the gold flowers and bird against the green background. Judge Uhlenbrauck was taken with how the large flowers made the goldfinch appear very petite. Judge Weidert appreciated the image’s depth of field and angle of the flowers. “A lot of people would center the subject matter which is easy to do, but how this is off to the side looks good,” he said.



Bookmark this post.
Arts & Culture

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.