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Point, Click, Win: Tourism Contest Seeks Islands' Essence

Feb 17. 2009 — V.I. shutterbugs need to get their cameras ready and gather their best photos for a chance at winning $2,000 in the V.I. Department of Tourism's photo contest.
The department is creating a special collection of images that capture the essence of the territory to be used for marketing in 2009.
The department decided to use local, amateur photographers to generate the collection rather than professionals. Photos taken by resident adults and children will be displayed at sharemyusvi.com, according to a Tourism Department spokesperson.
"Because of the abundance of the photography that we need on a constant basis, we thought it would be great to have some photography of how we see our island," said Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said. "This was a great opportunity for Virgin Islanders of various age groups to depict how they see the island and have a stake in how we market our island."
The department recognized and decided to capitalize on homegrown photographers.
"There is so much talent in our own backyard that we wanted to create a special initiative that captures the community's favorite images of our islands," Nicholson-Doty said, according to a news release.
The commissioner has a personal appreciation for photography.
"About five years ago I took up photography as a hobby and got a really nice camera," Nicholson-Doty said. "I realized it was a lot harder than you think it's going to be. To really be able to capture the essence is a unique talent."
The department is also involving the community in the judging.
After the first round of selection by judges from Caribbean Travel and Life, Travel Weekly and Black Enterprise Magazine, five finalists will be selected from each of five categories.
Finalists will be selected by April 17. Then, starting April 20 and running through May 17, the community gets to vote online — a la "American Idol" — for their favorite shots. Residents get to place one vote per each category for both the adult and the under-18 division. The photos with the highest numbers of votes will win.
Photos can be submitted in five categories: romance, visiting for business, activities and adventures, culture and heritage, and "from my view," which offers local amateur photographers a chance to interpret what they feel is special about the Virgin Islands. It could depict a favorite spot or be an image that doesn't fit into the other categories.
Adults can submit up to five photos for a chance to win a grand prize of $2,000 cash. Runner-up prize is a digital camera valued at $500. Once submitted, photos will become the property of the Tourism Department.
The contest's young-photographer categories also offer a real opportunity for kids to explore photography as a career, the commissioner explained.
Young photographers (ages 17 and under) can compete for savings bonds worth $2,000 ($1,000 present cash value). Entrants with the highest number of votes per category will win a savings bond in each age-group category: 5 to 10, 11 to 13 and 14 to 17. These photographers must have consent from their parents to enter.
To enter, visit sharemyusvi.com and follow the directions to create a login and enter the contest.
The deadline for entering is 11:59 a.m. March 31. Each submission must include a statement of 25 words or less explaining what is special about the photo and where it was taken. Photos must be 2 MB or less and at least 150 DPI. Photos must be submitted in JPEG, GIF or PNG file formats.
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