Krekeler, Tang take home ‘Gold Key’ awards in photography

Ria Parikh | Staff Writer

Every picture tells a story.

Sophomore Grace Tang and senior Stephanie Krekeler won Gold Keys in the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing awards. Gold Awards are granted to entries that qualify in the top one through five percent.

Through her photography classes, Tang said she was able to apply her interest in taking pictures and hone her skills to improve her work.

“When I was growing up, I was always interested in how things looked,” Tang said. “I was always taking pictures on family vacations, and when I saw that (MHS) had a photography course, I signed up for it. There was always something fun and interesting going on. I just wanted to work with that and take pictures.”

“Hide and Seek”, Grace Tang’s Gold Key photo, is a portrait of sophomore Josephine Sim.


Two fundamental styles of photography are portrait and landscape shots. Tang won her Gold Key with her first ever portrait photograph named “Hide and Seek” that featured sophomore Josephine Sim. Tang said she chose pictures to submit depending on their originality.

“Some qualities that I wanted to include in the pictures were uniqueness, something I had never really seen done before,” Tang said. “When I was selecting the pictures, I was looking through all of the pictures I had taken in the Photo II class, because we have different units such as motion, portrait and depth of field. I realized that my portrait ones were the best.”

Despite the success of her portrait photo, Tang said she is more experienced with landscape pictures because of the time she spends traveling.

“I mostly have landscape pictures because I have done so much traveling in the past year,” Tang said. “I’ve been to New York, I’ve been to China, I’ve been to Chicago, I’ve been to Washington D.C. recently, and I feel like there was just a lot more for me to work. This picture was actually the first time I tried portrait photography, and I guess it turned out really well.”

Paying close attention to detail is important for pictures that will be judged. Tang said choosing to view things from a photographer’s perspective helped her explore aspects of ordinary places that can be ignored by the everyday observer.

“Before, I always took pictures from where I stood: I just saw something and just took a picture of it,” Tang said. “Now I try to see a lot of things from different angles with different lighting. I try to see how many variations of one thing I could get in a picture.”


Stephanie Krekeler’s Gold Key photo.


Krekeler has also been taking pictures since she was young, and she said her inspiration for pursuing photography came from seeing pictures in magazines – like National Geographic – and wanting to follow in their footsteps.

“You see pictures in magazines and you’re kind of interested; you want to do that too,” Krekeler said. “In National Geographic, you see people taking pictures of animals and stuff, and you’re like, ‘I want to go there.’”

“A Reach Away”, the picture Krekeler was awarded a Gold Key for, was taken with her iPhone. The photograph features the MHS band during a concert. After taking the photo, Krekeler said she edited the picture on a computer to make it eligible for the contest.

“It was when the band was up in Toledo for the competition, and we were doing some character work,” Krekeler said. “The whole show had a world out-of-bounds theme, so we were reaching up to the sky and I thought it was really cool, so I snapped a picture behind a couple people, and then I went into (Adobe) Lightroom and edited a little bit.”

When choosing her pictures, Krekeler said she favors images that have an overarching story beyond the page.

“There’s just so much behind it, and it’s such an odd image to look at,” Krekeler said. “You kind of wonder what was happening at that time. Why are all these people reaching up to the sky? You just want to know the story behind it, and that’s what I think is interesting about it. You can look at it and think a million different things, and any of them could be true.”

The quality of a picture does not rely solely on the cost of the camera that took it. Krekeler said she takes most of her pictures on her phone for convenience, but this does not deter her from turning them into award-winning pictures.

“For the longest time, I’ve been trying to get a nice digital camera, but they’re really expensive,” Krekeler said. “To get a really good photo, it’s all about lighting and the set-up of them all. You just have to take those artistic principles and apply them. You can take really good photos on your phone, but you can also take really bad ones. I just depends on how you use it.”