Getting paid for creative thought: Contest offers prize money for media portrayal of school slogan

Posted by Jean-Ann Kubler

The Office of Communications is asking students to capture the spirit of "Creative Thought Matters" for the fifth run of the CTM Photo and Video Contest. Submissions are due on Nov. 17th for both the photo and video sections.

The contest began in spring 2007 as a response to a lack of media that properly captured the Skidmore experience. Prior to the contest, most photographs used in the college's media productions were taken by professionals.

"Photographs taken by a 50-year-old man at a student event kind of stick out — you don't get the real Skidmore," said Webmaster Elizabeth Katzman.

Director of Web Communications Andrew Camp added, "We thought that the students could play an integral part. We want to see the college through students' eyes. Skidmore students have a great time with each other and that can really come through."

For the Office of Communications, this contest is the embodiment of the college's slogan. "This contest, taking photographs, it's all about creative thought," Katzman said.

This is the first year the video and photo contests have run together. The video portion was introduced in spring 2010 as a separate competition, for many of the same reasons the photo contest began.

"It was a natural progression into the video contest. There's a struggle for new media here; everything about the college is through the students and we really want to see what's important to them," Camp said.

Both contests emphasize the importance of capturing Skidmore. The photo contest focuses on providing a slice-of-life view of the college.

"Capture student events, study abroad experiences, classes, clubs, sports or whatever else catches your eye. These photos must be taken on Skidmore property, or highlight a Skidmore event elsewhere or abroad," reads the official rules.

The video contest, on the other hand, focuses on providing a more rounded view of college life, seeking "the most creative and compelling tours of campus as well as ‘day-in-the-life-of-a-Skidmore-student' videos," according to the contest website.

The two segments of the contest also have separate judges. The video contest is judged primarily by alumni involved in media.

This year's video judges include Dave Goldberg '91, a professional television producer with his own production company, Miranda Bailey '95, an accomplished actress and start of the independent hit movie "Hindsight," as well as Dean of Admissions Mary Lou Bates. The photo contest is judged by a broader alumni board.

Because the photo contest has a longer history and therefore more entries, there are several categories of winners: People's Choice with a $250 prize, and Judge's Choice with $250 for 1st place, $200 for 2nd place and $150 for 3rd place.

The video contest has only one category, with prizes of $300 for 1st place, $150 for 2nd and $75 for 3rd.

Though the video contest has traditionally had fewer entries, the Office of Communications is optimistic about its potential.

"The photography we've received has been so incredible; we can't wait to see what the students can do with video," Camp said.

The winning photographs and videos are utilized on the school website and in admissions and alumni publications such as Scope Magazine.

The Office of Communications does claim ownership over the media once it's submitted (students must sign a waiver agreeing to this) but does not prohibit students from using the photographs they submit for other purposes.

"If students want to use the photographs they submit to us for portfolios or anything like that, we just ask that they notify us," Katzman said.

The photo contest is open to all members of the Skidmore community, including staff, faculty and alumni. The video contests is reserved to only students to insure a relevant, current point of view.

To enter, visit the contest website at

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