How do you come up with a set of interesting and positive images to promote downtown Las Vegas without breaking the bank? For the city-sponsored Downtown Marketing Initiative, the answer was simple. It harnessed the power of crowd sourcing with the annual Capture Downtown! photography contest.
Professional photographers and amateurs 21 or older are set to submit work by July 31 to show the best side of downtown. There is no entry fee.
“We get wonderful shots of all kinds of things that are new as well as some of the vintage things that are downtown,” said Nancy Higgins, marketing director for the initiative. “We’ve been really happy with the quality and variety of the pictures we receive. Last year we had more that 200 submissions.”
For the purposes of the contest, downtown is defined by the city’s Centennial Plan, available on the photo contest website at lvdowntown.com, which also includes contest rules and samples of previous winning photographs.
The area includes the Fremont Street Entertainment District, the 18b Arts District and the narrow extensions east along Fremont Street, almost to where it becomes Boulder Highway. Another narrow leg of the map extends south down Highland Avenue, a few blocks past Sahara Avenue.
Higgins said that every year, contest officials receive some photos that are disqualified because they were taken outside the target area.
Ryan Reason, co-founder of the new photography studio Square Shooting, is one of three judges scheduled to choose the winning entries.
“We’ll get together in a room and go through them and pick our favorites,” Reason said. “Then we’ll go through them again and make our case for our favorites to the other judges.”
Another way pictures might not make the cut is by not adhering to the intent of the contest.
“It’s a contest about promoting what a wonderful place downtown Las Vegas is,” Reason said. “Sometimes, some photographers will come downtown and try to do something artistic, political or meaningful. They’re great, powerful images, but they don’t fit the criteria of the contest. They miss the point.”
Disqualifications aside, the organizers and judges said they are impressed with the quality of the submissions.
“There’s always a lot of wonderful work,” Reason said. “People have a lot of different perspectives, ways to view Las Vegas, and I always look forward to seeing that.”
Reason said the work generated by the contest has a better chance of being greater than if the project was put in the hands of single photographer.
“In photography, very often you’re working alone or with maybe one or two people,” Reason said. “When you get five, six, 10 or 15 other creative people working on a project or brainstorming, it’s so much more powerful. You can see how these energies kind of multiply quickly.”
Higgins said that aside from the cost effectiveness of the contest as a promotional tool, organizers wanted to have something with a strong visual element.
“A lot of people haven’t seen all the changes that are happening downtown,” she said. “It’s not the place it was 20 years ago or even three years ago when we started this.”
Reason, who grew up in Sunrise Manor and lives in the southwest valley, said he is pleased with the changes he’s seen.
“I can remember when there really wasn’t a connection between the art and culture,” Reason said. “Now that’s really a thing of the past.”
For more information, visit lvdowntown.com.
Contact Downtown/Paradise View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at email@example.com or 702-380-4532.