A photo of several pairs of feet has given a Kaanapali amateur photographer a chance for worldwide recognition.
Kathy Coombs, 57, has been named one of 12 finalists in the 2011 Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest. If she wins, her photo may appear in an Energizer battery advertisement in the pages of National Geographic magazine.
A photography enthusiast for the past 10 years, Coombs said she couldn't believe that her "just random" shot of people's feet aboard a Maui whale watch boat was chosen as a finalist out of around 6,000 entries.
This photo of a family’s feet dangling from a whale watch boat has earned Kaanapali amateur photographer Kathy Coombs some recognition as one of 12 finalists in the 2011 Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest with National Geographic. If she wins, her photo will appear in an Energizer advertisement in National Geographic magazine. People can vote online to help Coombs reach the next stage of the competition.
KATHY COOMBS photo
When she got a call early one morning from the Mainland, she thought it was a telephone marketer, so she didn't answer the phone. But then the phone rang a second time and she asked the woman, " 'Do you know what time it is?' I thought it was someone trying to sell me something. When she told me I won, I still didn't believe her."
Coombs then wrote to National Geographic, which confirmed her selection as a finalist.
But now that Coombs is a believer, she needs public support. In order to reach the next step of the photo competition, she needs votes from online voters who pick her photo as the best in her category. From there, National Geographic's 20-year photographer and official judge for the contest, Jim Richardson, will choose the winner around Nov. 8. The goal of the Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest with National Geographic is to inspire an appreciation for the planet's beauty, an announcement said.
For a direct link to vote for Coombs, go online to www.nationalgeographic.com/energizer/entries/vote/familycommunity-finalists/.
Voting continues through Sept. 15.
Coombs is one of two finalists in the family/community category. There are five other thematic categories: animals/wildlife, nature/weather, travel/cultures, arts/music and action/energy. Two finalists were selected from each category. Richardson chose the finalists.
Coombs took her photo in January aboard the Maui Classic Charters boat. She was celebrating her friend's birthday, and the two were doing a snorkel and whale watch tour.
The boat was heading back to shore when she got her unexpected shot of a family's feet. Coombs was standing on the bottom deck of the two-level boat waiting for whales to breach.
"I was standing in the doorway . . . They were on the top deck. Everyone but one person had their shoes off. They were all up there sitting, and (then) it struck me as a cute picture," Coombs recalled. "I was waiting for whales. I was standing there, waiting, waiting, waiting. I took that shot. I never got the whale shot that day. I got a feet shot."
Coombs said the photograph was originally in color, but she felt it didn't look right. She printed the photo in sepia, or in a reddish-brown tone.
"I wanted it to look timeless and old-fashion," she said.
In a news release, Richardson commented on the photo.
"Such a simple image . . . but the moment caught is of carefree life on a sun-washed afternoon, somewhere away from the duties and drudgery, and made into a fine composition. As a reminder of pleasures close to home, this picture delivers."
Coombs, who is originally from Seal Beach, Calif., and moved to Maui eight years ago, said she loves to shoot scenic images the most. One of her favorites is Haleakala.
"I do a lot of sunsets. You can't help it. They are so beautiful."
Photography has inspired her so much that she is closing her promotional product distribution business and changing her career to photography.
She also has photographed weddings for friends but knows she still has to learn a lot more technical skills.
If Coombs receives the most votes in her category, she will be named one of six category winners and receive a prize pack valued at approximately $1,000. The grand prize winner will get his or her photo in an ad for Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries in National Geographic magazine and choose a prize of an Alaskan cruise, a Moroccan odyssey or a journey to Bhutan.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.