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Flushing photographer wins international award

Once these dreams come true, other dreams about winning prizes for photography have a chance. Flushing photographer Ed Michalec fulfilled his ultimate dream last month by winning the 2004 International Photographer of the Year Award, presented by the Professional Photographers of America.One of the four photos behind this artistic achievement is entitled "The Colossus of Meteora" and, according to Michalec, depicts "a cloud adjacent to a mountain where a monastery was built." Another was taken at the Throgs' Neck Bridge, at 5:30 a.m."You do what you need to to get a good picture," Michalec said. The third features Ecuadorian fishermen working together to drag a net through the water, while the last, called "Trying to Accept God's Will" is a haunting portrait of an elderly woman huddled in a church doorway in Ecuador."A photo should tell a story," he said. "I saw the poverty-stricken woman sitting outside the church, praying in the doorway and looking in at an altar that was all gold, and I happened to catch her expression. I couldn't communicate with her because of the language barrier."Ed Michalec retired in 2000 after 45 years as an architectural designer and promptly joined the Professional Photographers of Greater of New York (known up until 1985 as the Long Island Professional Photographers' Association)."As a designer, I utilized photography as one of my tools" Michalec said. On what he described as "a social and business trip" to Ecuador, he took hundreds of photos. "Many of the people in rural areas are not familiar with cameras," he said. "So I brought a Polaroid camera with me and gave away the instant pictures that came out of it, and then I used a Leica to take the pictures I wanted."Within a short time, Michalec also joined the Professional Photographers' Society of New York, and the Professional Photographers of America. He won trophies, awards and blue ribbons locally as he met many other photographers. In 2003 he won a "Best of Show" award for a photo of a veteran holding a flag. One fateful day, the famous photographer Bart Stevens urged him to enter the annual PPA competition. "I submitted my portfolio and it was accepted and sent to Las Vegas," Michalec said. "The portfolio received an award. I received a bronze award for all four of my photos, and finally, in New Orleans, out of 8,000 contestants from around the world, I was chosen as the International Photographer of the Year."Closer to home, Michalec created a giveaway booklet for Flushing Cemetery, called "Wonderland of a Million Blooms." Copies are available there for the asking."I took pictures at different times of the year, in all four seasons," he said. "The booklet describes the species of plants there and where they came from. Louis Armstrong is interred there, and Charles Hellmann (of Hellmann's Mayonnaise)."Michalec graduated from Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts, where he studied architectural design. His architectural career included serving as a design director for Chase Manhattan Bank and the company Haynes Lundberg Waehler. He also worked for Equitable Life and Griswald Heckel Kelly."Anyone interested in photography should get involved with a professional organization if they want to grow," Ed advises. "That way they will receive input from professionals who are totally immersed in photography, who make a living from it and learn about varying schools of thought."When asked about more specific tips for picture-taking, Michalec emphasized, "Keep a camera available at all times!""Remember that people look at a photo the way they read," he said. "If they read from left to right, then you should try to have negative space on the left lead their attention to the person or other subject on the right. And for catching a fussy subject, Michalec has a secret technique he employs, he said."An animal photographer in the PPGNY told me that if you're photographing a cat, you can get it to hold still by keeping a turkey caller (a small device used to make bird sounds) in your mouth," Michalec said. "When a cat hears that, it freezes, as if it's posing for you." The PPGNY's website address is www.ppgny.org and its number is 516-826-2986. The monthly meetings in Rockville Centre include programs conducted by interesting speakers. Membership for studio owners is $250 a year, while associate members pay $175.

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