Winner: Roberta Schipper Dancing in the Sunrise
This year, 2022, marks the 20th anniversary of Out In Jersey Magazine. To celebrate, we launched a new photo contest which, for the month of February, challenged photography lovers and image-makers from across the Garden State and beyond to submit up to three photographs that would complete the following sentence:
“You know what they say, where there is love, there is________________.”
The winning photograph is Dancing in the Sunrise by Roberta Schipper. Schipper is a lifelong New Jersey resident always interested in photography. She and her partner have been married for 14 of the 18 years they’ve been together. They have seven grandkids who keep them busy.
Schipper is also an avid Out In Jersey reader. That’s how she found out about the photo contest in the first place.
“I had submitted [Dancing in the Sunrise] once before to a paid contest [but] it did not win,” Schipper says. Yet, she loved the photograph so much that she printed it and displayed it in her home. One of her friends noticed the photograph and encouraged Schipper to submit it to photo contests. When Schipper reminded her friend that she had tried that, to no avail, her friend persuaded her to try again, which she did. Hence, this month’s winning photograph!
Dancing in the Sunrise features a couple, silhouetted by the first light, dancing on the pier in Laurence Harbor, NJ. “I woke up and looked outside, and there was this couple dancing at the end of the pier,” Schipper explains. “The sun was rising, so I grabbed my camera and ran outside in my pajamas and bare feet [and went] up the street to line up the sun with [the couple]. I took my photo and [then] ran back in the house because I still hadn’t gone to the bathroom… and I missed them when they walked up the street.” She has been looking for the couple everywhere ever since. She still hasn’t given up hope that she’d eventually find them, to offer them a copy of the photograph.
While her Dancing in the Sunrise is the winner of this month’s contest, the other two photographs she submitted are also worth mentioning:
Rainbow Bouquet captures a rainbow made out of flowers (see first photo above). To create the bouquet, Schipper used flowers from her own yard—Gerber daisies for red and yellow (and there’s another red flower she calls “fireworks, ’cause it explodes, [like fireworks]”); daylilies for orange; ferns and leaves from the hydrangeas for green; hydrangeas, themselves, for blue; and globe echinacea for purple. For Pride Month 2021, she placed her rainbow bouquet on a wooden tribute she had made that says “Love is Love.”
Partners for Life captures two ducks on a lake in Branch Brook Park in Newark, at the height of the cherry blossom season. “The ducks and the geese are always there, and many of them mate for life,” Schipper says.
At first sight, Schipper’s images appear to capture random subjects and stories, yet, they all have something in common. “[The photo contest] was about love,” she explains, “and these [three images] they all say love to me.” The two ducks are quite possibly a couple for life, the flower bouquet symbolizes her love and admiration for flowers, and the silhouetted couple dancing on the pier at sunrise “is self-explanatory,” captures a magical moment in the magical golden-hour light.
Photography is about seizing the moment. Photography is what keeps Roberta Schipper in the moment. It helps her focus. As a lifelong photographer, she advises those who might want to become serious photographers to capture those kinds of decisive moments in their own lives. “Don’t set up anything,” she says, “I’m going against my [own] advice because the flowers [in the ‘Rainbow Bouquet’ image] were obviously set up, but for the most part [capture] the moment,” she reiterates, “and always have the camera with you.”
A runner-up photo entry is Safety by Massachusetts photographer Steve Jewett of Studio Appingo. Jewett found out about the photo contest from Twitter and decided to submit three portraits he’d captured during the Salem Halloween Parade this past October. The portraits complete the contest sentence in three unique, eye-opening ways: “You know what they say, where there is love, there is hope, safety, and caring.”
Jewett became interested in photography decades ago, and curious to learn about the journey of a photograph—from its in-camera capture to its reproduction on the pages of a magazine. His career spans over decades, and includes printing and publishing industry. About a decade ago, Jewett got his first smartphone and, with that, rediscovered his passion for photography. His work has been exhibited in solo shows such as the 2019 “Opsis” CUSP Gallery in Provincetown, MA, and group shows such as the 2018 ASMP Annual Exhibit, The Gallery Upstairs, in Orleans, MA.
“My recent portraits document humans in pursuit of their own personal truth,” he says in an online statement. “My work investigates the expression of intimate individual truths, of the personal human condition, striving, and fantasy.”
His unique, oftentimes in-your-face, Halloween portraits captured with a Sony camera reflect just that. “I went 14 times on 14 different trips to Salem and photographed for [hours],” he says. One of the images, Safety, stands out in particular. It features a couple who agreed to be photographed. Jewett recalls that both men took off their masks for the picture. “One of [them, who] was well over six feet tall, looked like the protector.” The other seemed relaxed and safe next to him. That made Jewett think about love and relationships and that “one component of love is about feeling safe and protected.” And his runner-up photograph, “Safety,” captures just these facets of love—safety and security, protection.
A third photo entry also worth mentioning brings us back to Jersey—Newark, New Jersey, that is. “Where There Is Love, There Is Us” is an image by fashion entrepreneurs Lynette Lawshawn Dickens and Anita Dickens. Lawshawn is the founder of Off the Hanger, “a destination where edgy fashion, art, and décor collide,” and Anita Dickens is the founder of Anne Clothier, “a high-end visionary gender-neutral brand.”
They read about the photo contest in Out In Jersey Magazine and decided to submit Where There Is Love There Is Us, an image showing the couple in a hotel room by a fireplace. “It’s a warm and cozy night, and we’re just enjoying each other’s company and appreciating the love and the beauty that we created together,” they explain, taking turns speaking about their businesses and relationship—they’ve known each other for some 20 years and been married for 10 years. “So, we embody what love looks like. We have made a commitment to one another to stay the course.”
As these images prove, love is complex and multi-faceted. Love might mean different things to different people—the magic of dancing in the sunrise like no one is watching; the safety-net of a relationship during a dark and cold Halloween night; or the coziness, comfort, and resilience of a life-long commitment.
Love is indeed love, and it takes many shapes and forms. Hopefully, everybody gets to celebrate love this month and every month.
Please stay tuned for upcoming photo challenges and listen to the story on the two podcast links here:
Alina Oswald is a writer and photographer living in the New York City area. Contact her online at alinaoswald.com.