From July 14 to 18, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Victoria Kuwanvama spent the week in California exploring Universal Studios and the beach and attending a red-carpet award ceremony for the ImageMakers National Photography Contest, a program of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Kuwanvama shared the honor with 19 other youth winners in different categories. She won first place in the 13- to 15-year-old division for a photograph she submitted earlier this summer. Her chosen category was Culture and Tradition.
Her photograph showed three young powwow dancers looking down toward the camera. Kuwanvama was the national winner out of more than 20,000 submissions.
“It’s a natural digital photo,” she explains, “meaning there is no Photoshop or any software program enhancing the photo in any way.”
Kuwanvama has always had an interest in photography. At the Boys and Girls Club, she is a junior staff member, part of the WIA program. The Boys and Girls Club in Lehi has a photography program that lasts all semester. Kuwanvama enrolled in the program and met Rainboe Dan, from whom she learned the basics about composition, light and other elements in photography. “We saw her about three times a week. She showed a lot of interest. I showed her some basics about light and how to use the camera. From there she ran with it and started to develop her style,” said Dan.
A fellow Community member, Dan also won an award in the same contest back in 2007, winning a trip similar to the one that Kuwanvama received. This makes Kuwanvama the second winner on a national level from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.
“I always had an interest in photography like Victoria, and I participated in the same program when I was at the Boys and Girls Club. For me, winning that award advocated for me to work in that field,” Dan explained joyfully. Dan went on to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, where she earned an associate degree in visual communications.
“I think it was a super cool opportunity for Victoria, and it reminded me of my trip and how super awesome it was,” said Dan.
In addition to the award ceremony for her and 19 other winners in different categories, Kuwanvama and the recipients enjoyed other California treats including meeting music directors, meeting actor and TV host Mario Lopez, visiting the set of the hit TV show The Mentalist and receiving a Sony camera to record their time in California.
Kuwanvama wants to continue developing her photography skills and talks about entering the contest again next year.
“I enjoy it a lot and want to continue, but I want to go to college for business,” said Kuwanvama, when asked whether she too would pursue a degree in visual communications.
If you or a young person you know wants to learn more about the photography program at the Boys and Girls Club, email Angela DiCicco at firstname.lastname@example.org.