Click. Click. Click. Art and photography teacher Katy Dougharty has taken hundreds of photos, but only one could win. Judged against 1,000 other images submitted by faculty from around Texas, Dougharty took home the first place prize for the Association of Texas Photography Instructors’ Fall Photo Contest.
“I was a little shocked and excited,” Dougharty said. “I was surprised. The competition is at the state level and is open to all instructors and students in Texas. The students were judged up against 7,000 other images.”
Surprisingly, Dougharty never did much with photography until she was asked to teach it.
“I actually didn’t take photography when I was in college,” Dougharty said. ” I took just about everything but photography, and I ended up going to the Dougherty Art Center downtown. I took a darkroom class there, and that’s where I learned darkroom techniques. I am self-taught in digital photography. It’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube.”
Dougharty has entered a multitude of competitions and been exhibited at City Hall and on East and West Austin Studio Tours, but she hasn’t won them all.
“I’ve entered a lot of things and not gotten it,” she said. “You’re not always successful. As an artist, you throw your work at everything you’re interested in, and you’re kind of at the mercy of whoever the judge is and what they like and don’t like. I’ve entered a lot more competitions, but it doesn’t mean I always win.”
Dougharty enjoys taking photos of her travels, as she finds lots of interesting subject matter.
“When I travel sometimes, I do burst photography if I’m passing underneath a bridge,” Dougharty said. “I don’t know what I’m shooting; I just hang my camera out the window and start shooting as I go through it. That for me is a lot of fun because it’s a surprise when I see it, and it’s abstract. I’d say when I travel I get my best photography.”
Dougharty loves the subject matter she finds when she travels, but she also enjoys what she shoots at home, including her four-year-old son.
“I’ve had a lot of fun shooting him as he grows up,” she said. “I love natural subjects, like plants and flowers. I love oddities, [the] strange things I find.”
Even though Dougharty prefers other mediums of art, such as drawing with charcoal or working with stained glass, she finds photography to be a very uplifting art form.
“You’re always looking for your strengths,” Dougharty said. “I can take fifty images with digital photography, and my whole purpose to move forward is to find my very best photo out of those 50 images. I think it’s a really positive way for artists to work when you’re always trying to find your strengths, instead of what’s wrong with your work. I think it builds a sense of confidence and self-acceptance, and that’s my favorite thing about digital photography.”