August 19, 2019 | 90° F

Residents depict New Brunswick in annual photography contest

Photo by Courtesy of Kavita Pandey |

The above photograph of the NJ State Theater, taken by Angel Escalante, won second place in New Brunswick Free Public Library’s Seventh Annual Photography Contest. Escalante says the photo intends to use lines and detail to bring out the city lights.

Forty-five year old Angel Escalante saw New Brunswick Free Public Library’s Seventh Annual Photography Contest as an outlet to develop a new hobby and get something from it, he said.

This year’s contest saw more than 90 entries, including one from Escalante, a former leukemia patient, who received second place in the contest’s adult category.

Escalante, who participated in this year’s contest for a third time, has always been interested in photography, but it wasn’t until three years ago that he started to explore that interest.    

The library, in collaboration with the George Street Playhouse and the Heldrich Hotel, is bringing photographs of the city of New Brunswick and of local residents to the public in an exhibition entitled, “New Brunswick: Our Town,” said Robert Belvin, the library’s director.

Librarian Kavita Pandey, who has been in charge of the contest for the past seven years, said the theme for this year’s contest came from the collaboration with George Street Playhouse and their show, “Our Town,” she said.

To meet the criteria of the contest, entrants were asked to depict an aspect of New Brunswick in a photo, Pandey said. 

Entrants were invited to use creative license in interpreting that, and Pandey offered examples like photographing the Rutgers Gardens, the train station or any part of daily life in New Brunswick.

“The contest is a platform in which budding photographers can showcase their skills,” she said.

The contest had no age limit — anyone with the ability to take a photo could enter.

The contest had three categories — the adult category, youth category and a Middlesex County College category for the young photographers who would enter the contest.

Judging was really difficult, Pandey said. Professional photographers reviewed the entries to figure out which photos captured the essence of New Brunswick.

Escalante’s photos were of the State Theatre. He wanted to work with lines and details that would bring out the city lights. He was inspired by the way the street looked one evening after light snowfall.

He said New Brunswick’s history is rich, and it has always fascinated him.

“I liked the way the sky and the street looked at the time,” he said. “The grayish-blue tint of the sky — it wasn’t too late, and you could see the way the city looked at night.”

The program is funded in part by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission as well as through a grant provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Several sponsors donated prizes, like gift cards to 7 Eleven, Walgreens and Chipotle, for the winners, Pandey said.

The library hosted three free photo workshops before the contest’s deadline so participants could practice their photography skills, she said.

All 97 entries can be viewed at the New Brunswick Free Public Library. The winning photographs will be on display at the George Street Playhouse and at the Heldrich Hotel through the end of May, Belvin said.

Lidia De Los Santos

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