Neil Sjoblom
Neil Sjöblom used a special computer program to give this cat’s eyes
a little more glow before entering the print into the state contest
at his brother’s insistence.

 

‘Oscar’ of the Industry:
Geneva photographer wins top state prize

Friday, March 31, 2006

By MIKE MASLANIK
Finger Lakes Times

GENEVA — When not snapping pictures for weddings and graduation photos, local photographer Neil Sjöblom takes award-winning artistic shots — one of which recently earned him one of the industry’s highest honors.

Sjöblom (said show-blum) captured the Kodak Gallery Award, top prize at the 101st annual Professional Photographers of New York State convention, that was held March 17 to March 22 at the Nevele Grand Hotel in Ellenville. He also came home with three blue ribbons in the Masters Print category.

The Kodak Gallery Awards are the “Oscars of the industry,” he said, and he was elated to receive the award.“It’s always good to be recognized by your peers, especially since these are the most prestigious awards in photography,” said Sjöblom, owner of Neil Sjöblom Studios in Geneva. Sjöblom shot his winning entry, “Demon Eyes,” in Venice, while he was attending a 30-year reunion of a Hobart College study abroad session.

“The cat is sitting in such a foreboding setting, the whole thing looks so ominous,” he said.After using a computer program to modify the photo andgive the eyes a little more glow, Sjöblom entered the print in the contest at the insistence of his brother, Steve.

His two other blue ribbon entries were “Venice Palette,” a cityscape of the “very colorful place,” and “Castle Rock,” a picture of the Canadian Rockies he took while skiing at Lake Louise on a recent vacation.For Sjöblom, the award marks a high point in his photography career, which has spanned roughly 40 years. He inherited his interest in photography from his father, who he said made pictures as a hobby and while working on crime scenes as a New York State Trooper.His first foray into the business was in 1968 when, as a high school student, he helped the then-Geneva Times photo editor, Bill Ahlstrom, develop film.

“I’ll always remember when I got an envelope with $20 in it from the Times at Christmas,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I can do anything I want with this, I earned it.’”Sjöblom earned a degree in art at Hobart in the 1970s and opened his shop soon after. Since joining the state professional photographers association, he has attained master status, having won more than 25 blue ribbons.

In 1998, he was awarded a Master of Photography degree by the Professional Photographers of America; and the state association presented him with its State Award in 2001 for his contributions to its workshop, which is conducted each year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Sjöblom’s business exposes him to a wide variety of assignments, which he called “a nice thing about working in a small town.”

He said that he tries to keep in a creative state of mind no matter what he’s photographing. The roughly 52 weddings he shoots each year tend to keep him on his toes.“People are much more sophisticated now; they know exactly what they want from watching shows on TV,” Sjöblom said. “I’m always learning about the latest trends on shoots like those.”

Reprinted with Permission of Mike Maslanik