MTCC student places first in photography competition

Sarah Ernst stands beside her photo “Moss, Rocks & Vines,” which currently hangs inside the Turchin Center for Visual Arts in Boone.

Second-year McDowell Technical Community College student Sarah Ernst is celebrating a recognition which has placed her photography among a select group at Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.

Ernst’s photograph “Moss, Rocks & Vines” recently placed first in the Flora and Fauna Category of the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition.

The photo was one that Ernst had been saving for such a contest because of its uniqueness.

“That image was one that I had basically put in my back pocket,” said Ernst. “From the time I shot it, I knew I had something.”

Ernst captured the image during a visit to Linville Gorge, where she spotted the peculiar looking area that captured her fancy.

“I was on my way home and I passed through the cove in the Parkway and I saw the shot,” said Ernst. “I pulled off on a little side road and went off on an opposite hill and shot opposite from it and looked over and thought, ‘that’s it.’ I amazed myself and worked on it that night. I was afraid people wouldn’t understand the shot, so I just kept it in my pocket until this contest came up.”

Ernst was among 49 finalists in the competition that hosted more than 800 entries. When the time came for the winners to be announced, she was floored by the announcement that she placed first in the Flora and Fauna Category.

“There was actually a reception for the finalists where all the photos were on display and there was food and drinks,” said Ernest. “I was really surprised when my name was announced.”

Along with her first place win, Ernst also received an honorable mention for her photo in the Culture category titled “Full Steam Ahead.”

For her win, Ernst was given a $250 gift certificate and the privilege of having her work hang in the Turchin Center from now until June 7.