By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN When Mark Udstrand of Delano saw three boys about to leap into Lake Superior near Grand Marais, he wasn’t thinking about winning a contest all he knew was that the photo opportunity was too good to pass up.
“I was camping in Grand Marais, and I took my camera out that morning, planning to take some scenic shots,” Udstrand said. “I saw a mom and dad and three kids, and I saw the kids getting ready to swim.”
Udstrand, who was still more than 100 yards away, started jogging across the jagged rocks toward the family, while carrying his camera equipment.
“There was really no time to think about it,” he said.
He snapped the perfect photo, capturing the excitement, color, and motion of the three boys in mid-air.
Afterward, he went and talked to the boys’ parents.
“I don’t take pictures of people’s kids without their permission,” Udstrand said, explaining that he offered to delete the picture if the family did not want him to have it.
Fortunately, the parents were thrilled with the photo and said they’d be fine with having it on Udstrand’s website, www.naturesmirror.com. Udstrand also offered them free prints of the photo.
A clear winner
Udstrand didn’t think too much more about the picture until he saw a photo contest opportunity in Lake Superior Magazine.
“I found out the day of the deadline,” he said.
While looking through his thousands of breathtaking images, the photo of the boys jumped out at him.
“I thought, this is the type of photo that has a chance to win,” Udstrand said.
As a courtesy, Udstrand sent a note to the boys’ family to make sure they were OK with the photo being in a contest.
“The family was super excited,” Udstrand said.
When the winners were announced, the excitement only increased Udstrand had won first place in the people/humor category of Lake Superior Magazine’s 16th annual photo contest.
As a long-time subscriber, Udstrand had seen the contest before, but this is the first time he entered.
“I usually get the March magazine and think, ‘I forgot to enter again,’” he said.
This was Udstrand’s first photo contest of any kind that he’s entered, but now, he plans to enter them regularly.
“Contests are a good way to challenge yourself,” he said. “Even if you lose, you learn something.”
Udstrand’s identical twin brother, Gary, who is also a photographer, plans to enter photo contests, as well.
“This way, I don’t have to win I just have to do better than he does,” Udstrand joked.
Photography is just one of Udstrand’s many skills. He’s also a full-time independent software consultant who enjoys taking ideas from concept to implementation. His efforts have touched many large corporations.
Udstrand is also a talented guitar player, songwriter, and frame builder. He wrote a song for his wife for Christmas, and is working on songs for each of his three children, Will, Madison, and Leyton.
“Because I have so many hobbies, I tend to cycle through them throughout the year,” he said.
About the contest
According to an article in Lake Superior Magazine, the judges had more than 1,000 high-quality images to choose from.
The grand-prize winner was Rob Wiener of WI. Shawn Thompson of Duluth won first place for the lake/landscapes category; Tom Ala of Illinois won the “by the shores” category; and Shawn Zierman of Duluth won the nature category.
The next photo contest deadline is Oct. 17, 2011. See details online at www.lakesuperior.com, or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the rules to Lake Superior Photo Contest, PO Box 16417, Duluth, MN 55816-0417.