Last night as I drove back to Wichita from visiting a colleague in Manhattan, KS, I drove through the Flint Hills and took some photos of the school at the Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve school at sunset. As I did, it occurred to me that it is pretty hard NOT to take a cool photo of the Flint Hills at sunset. The setting lends itself to great shots. On the rest of the drive back, I mulled over the idea of a new type of photo contest for Kansas. Its defining feature would be what was not allowed in terms of subject. The point is not that said subjects are not valuable or important. Rather, it would be to get us to think about Kansas in a way that got beyond the familiar, even cliche images that show up on photo contests and state fair exhibitions. In some ways, it is too easy to fall back on these topics. What else in Kansas is worthy of documenting? So...here are some ideas of things that would NOT be permitted in this alternative Kansas photo competition:
The Flint Hills and Konza Prairie.
Monument Rocks and Castle Rock
Abandoned farmhouses, one room schools, country churches, court houses
Cows, bison, and horses
Trains and railroad stations
Windmills, barns, and grain elevators
Sunsets, approaching storms, and tornadoes
Panoramas of fields, either bare or with crops
Sunflowers, post rock fences and barbed wire
Children and senior citizens (however they may be in the background of scenes provided people of other generations are also present)
Traditional artistic images (Madonna of the Plains, Cathedral of the Plains, Keeper of the Plains, the John Brown Scene in the Capitol, etc. As a general rule of thumb, if it has the phrase "of the plains" in the name, it is probably off limits.)
You are probably saying by now "hey, what CAN I photograph?"
Now, you've got the idea!