Faces are the focus, literally, of the Faces Photo Contest by Photo District News (PDN) magazine. And a ferret photo won the People’s Choice category in the 2010 contest — a ferret photo taken by Jeanne Carley, creator of the famous Jeanne Carley Ferret Calendar.
Carley said she chose the ferret race car drivers photo to enter because of the face and body position of the “driving” ferret. “It was such an incredible moment, I couldn’t have had a better picture if she’d actually been able to understand verbal directions, ‘Hands on the wheel, now look at the camera and imagine you are winning the Indy 500.’”
But this win nearly didn’t happen, because Carley entered the contest a bit late. “I kind of decided on a lark when I saw that the competition included animal images,” Carley said. The contest began in January and ended in April, and Carley didn’t enter until late March. “[I hoped] that ferret fans would support their favorite pet — and hopefully favorite photographer.”
Her hope became reality when the centerfold image from her 2010 calendar won the People’s Choice category. “There were over 6,000 entries,” Carley said, “and these two little ferret race car drivers beat out humans, dogs, cats and all other animals to win the title.”
PDN is a magazine for professional photographers that’s been published for more than two decades. It began the Faces Photo Contest in 2008; the People’s Choice category was added in 2009. Last year’s People’s Choice winner was a portrait of a woman.
“We aren’t usually surprised [by which photos win] as the nature of work that comes in varies so much,” said John Gimenez, the contest and events manager at PDN. “It’s no surprise that an animal portrait won this year, as we’re finding that animal photography, especially pet photography, is really very popular.”
Carley credits ferret fans for her win. “They loved the image, and they love their pets. They made it happen,” she said. “I think the idea of having ferrets chosen as The People’s Choice gave them real joy, especially since in some areas these little guys are still misclassified and misunderstood.”
Gimenez said that People’s Choice winners generally receive some PDN swag, like a bag and T-shirt, but that’s not the true prize. “The exposure through People’s Choice is the big prize,” he said, “getting your name and image out there.”
Ferrets have been captured by Carley’s camera since 1994, and she created her first Jeanne Carley Ferret Calendar in 1995. In the past she shot commercially for many high-tech and bio-tech companies, but her focus now is strictly ferrets and sometimes other animals for her calendar.
“My commercial photographs won numerous awards because the designers and art directors entered them in contests,” Carley said. “I generally don’t enter contests, but my ferret calendar has won national awards and my ferret images have been published in newspapers and magazines worldwide from Russia to China, the United Kingdom and many countries in Europe.”