Aspiring fashion designer wins honorable mention


Manuel Dominguez, 24, business major, was awarded honorable mention at the Photographer’s Forum contest for Best of College Photography 2014. Photo credit: Charles Ryder

Focus, lighting, depth, angles, pattern. There are a lot of delicate elements that have to line up just right for a great photograph to be captured. The journey of one EC photographer is similar.

Manuel Dominguez, 24, business major, said he wasn’t going to enter the Photographer’s Forum contest. He only did so with the encouragement of his classmates.

Dominguez ended up winning honorable mention. Darilyn Rowan, photography instructor, puts the accomplishment in perspective.

“(Photographer’s Forum) gets approximately between 15,000-20,000 entries, depending on the year,” Rowan said. “They pick the top five percent as finalists. In addition to the finalists, the jurors select 100 honorable mentions. This year, Manuel was selected as one of the honorable mentions, which is an incredible achievement.”

The competition is open to all college students nationwide.

“When I was in graduate school myself, I won one of the 100 honorable mentions, but that’s when I was a graduate student,” Rowan added.

Rowan said “absolutely not” when asked if she thought she would have won as an undergraduate.

Dominguez almost didn’t enter the competition, but a lot of things had to line up for the picture to even get taken.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, like a lot of people when they get out of high school,” Dominguez said. “I changed my major a couple times. I failed some classes. I was doing bad. So, I decided to do something I always wanted to do, which was make clothes.”

During a break from a fashion design course, Dominguez remembered that he had an assignment due for his photography class. He had a flash of inspiration, set up three dress forms, and instructed a friend to pose with her arms around one while obscuring her face.

“After high school I started getting interested in photography, but I didn’t show anyone my photos because I wasn’t confident that they were good,” Dominguez said. “It wasn’t until the first photo class where you have to show them. People I didn’t know started giving me compliments, critiques and constructive criticism.”

More than a year after taking the photo, it would again be his classmates to encourage him to enter it into the competition. Maria Andrade-Reyes, a classmate who was also a finalist but not an honorable mention but worked in groups with Dominguez.

“He’s very smart, creative, talented and helpful,” Andrade-Reyes said. “When he’s working he takes his time. It shows the quality of his work. A lot of my classmates submitted some photographs but didn’t get to the finals. Manny getting the honorable mention is a huge thing.”