Someday, if Patrick Spence becomes a great and famous photographer, he'll look back at his early days and tell the world about his inspiration.
A hot dog.
With the works.
It's not every guy with a camera who can turn a challenge to photograph fair food into a prize-winning piece of art. But Spence, a 20-year-old from Naperville, now can boast that he earned top honors in the first Photography Shoot-Out contest at the DuPage County Fair.
"This is really cool," Spence said. "I did not expect to come here and win it."
Fair organizers recognized that the grounds are full of eye-catching sights throughout the event's annual five-day run. This year they teamed with the Daily Herald and PJ's Camera in Glen Ellyn to create the photography contest, which could turn into an annual event.
The 19 contestants in the inaugural Shoot-Out were given a topic, selected at random, and an hour to tour the fairgrounds in Wheaton to point their own digital cameras in any direction they thought would create some photographic magic. Contestants took their photographs Wednesday night, the fair's opening day, in the categories of food, carnival, animals and family.
Spence said he was nervous when they drew the food category but decided to move in close with a hot dog and funnel cake.
And that made all the difference.
Contestants submitted their single best shot Wednesday night for judging by a panel of Daily Herald photographers, who said Spence's delectable shot was the clear winner because it shows good detail and is well-composed.
Gary Perisho of Winfield and Karen Tornberg of Wheaton placed second and third in the photographers' judging, while Spence also earned the People's Choice award based on voting by the contestants.
For his winning photo, Spence was awarded a $20 cash prize and a $75 gift card to PJ's Camera. Perisho's second-place shot garnered a $15 prize and a $50 gift card to PJ's; Tornberg took home $10 and a $25 gift card to PJ's.