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The Sheldon Calls For Creativity In St. Louis’ 250th Birthday Photo Contest

The Sheldon Art Galleries in Grand Center is asking for photographs documenting St. Louis, as the city celebrates 250 years.

The Arch, Busch Stadium and the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park are among the usual suspects when it comes to picturing St. Louis. But the same-old, same-old won’t cut it in a photography contest focused on the city at 250.

photo of Olivia Lahs-Gonzales
Credit Ray Marklin
Olivia Lahs-Gonzales

Organizers of the competition, sponsored by the Sheldon and St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon, are calling for less typical images. Maybe you’ll capture a kid skateboarding down your street, a lush community garden or some original stained glass. The Sheldon’s director of art galleries Olivia Lahs-Gonzales suggests that contestants keep their cameras close to home.

“We hope that people will go into their own neighborhoods and tell us what’s special about that neighborhood -- you know, the people, the places -- and really talk about what St. Louis is today,” Lahs-Gonzales said.

Reframing and Restraint

If you must feature an iconic structure or other familiar sight in your photo, the trick is to find a unique perspective.

“It’s just about thinking about a detail, perhaps, or some aspect of it that really we haven’t seen before,” Lahs-Gonzales said. “So really, just think about how you can show your city to someone in a very unique and new way.”

girl before a large tank of water
Credit Rob Monroe

Photoshopping your images is fine but restraint is key. Make sure your manipulation serves a purpose.

“If there’s a reason for it, if there’s a way that it actually enhances your message, what you’re trying to say then, yes, I think that would be fine,” Lahs-Gonzales said.

Photos taken anytime in 2013 and up until the contest deadline of Feb. 23 will be accepted. Organizers are hoping for participation from people in St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

There are separate categories for professionals, amateurs and youth up to age 18 . The grand prize is $1,000 dollars, with other prizes ranging from $500 down to $25. One hundred winning photos will be displayed this summer at The Sheldon.

Full contest rules are featured on The Sheldon website.

More St. Louis at 250 Info

Official stl250 site

Missouri History Museum's upcoming "250 in 250" exhibition

Lots of cake in store for city's birthday celebration

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: NancyFowlerSTL

Forget the Arch, the King Louis statue atop of Art Hill in Forest Park or the lovely nudes in "The Meeting of the Waters" fountain in Aloe Plaza. As we spend this year marking the city's 250th birthday,share with us what other image most symbolizes St. Louis to you.


Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.