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U of T Scarborough students win university photo contest

The winter scene taken by student Charlie Li won in the photography contest's campus category. Student Andrew Vorobyov's photo of students in the microbiology lab won in the cell phone category.

by Mary Ann Gratton

Photographs taken by two students from U of T Scarborough have won the university-wide photo contest organized by the University of Toronto Bulletin.

Third-year social sciences student Charlie (Xiao Peng) Li took the prize in the campus category for his shot of a tranquil winter scene on campus. It was published in the March 25 issue of the Bulletin.

Third-year biological sciences student Andrew Vorobyov has won in the cellphone photograph category for his shot of students working in a microbiology lab.

Hundreds of photos from students, staff and faculty from all three campuses of U of T were submitted to the Bulletin’s amateur photo contest in six categories: Flora; Fauna; Campus; Travel; People; and Cellphone photos. The winners appear in the March 25 issue of the U of T Bulletin or the e-Bulletin electronic newsletter. The entries were judged by the Bulletin’s team of designers: Caz Zyvatkauskas, Pascal Paquette and Jamie Brand. The judges viewed the photographs blindly, without knowing the names or any other details related to the identities of the contestants.

Li said his photo, titled “Gloomy Serenity” was taken the day after a mid-February snowstorm this year. The viewpoint is from the field near the tennis courts at U of T Scarborough. The judges described the photo as “a real moment frozen in time. It captures that sense of foreboding in the sky and juxtaposes the serene beauty of the landscape with the plodding of the characters walking towards the horizon. The smallness of the house at the vanishing point puts our human existence into perspective.”

“I was shocked because this is the first time I’ve participated in this kind of contest,” said Li, who is doing a double major in international development studies and city studies. “The forest looked so beautiful in the snow that my friends and I decided to take some wintery scenery shots,” he said. “We had to travel down into the park in knee-high snow and it was a very tiring walk.”

Photography has been his hobby for years, said Li. “I see photography as a way to retain something beautiful or memorable from a single moment. I suppose this is what photography means for people. I like to take shots of all kinds, and I don’t take just one kind of picture. Sometimes I just look at something and know I have to take a picture of it.”

Vorobyov’s photograph of microbiology students in a lab won in the cell phone photo category. According to the judges, “we loved that this was a cell phone shot. The indifference of the subjects and their lab setting makes it seem almost as if it was taken clandestinely. Good composition and some great indirect lighting.”

He took the shot in spring 2007 using his cellphone camera in the Science wing. He says he has won several photo contests in the last four years. “Every artist needs an audience for his work,” he says. “I didn’t think much of that snapshot by itself, but given the focus of the context I felt it was a suitable submission. It seems I was right, which just adds experience in judging what’s a good picture and what isn’t.”

Vorobyov admits to a passion for photography. “My approach to photography is like that of an addict on drugs: it feels good, it’s expensive, and it’s completely frivolous in the grand scheme of things.”

When he sets out to take a photo, Vorobyov says his mindset changes depending on the type of shot he wants to get. “In the case of cellphone snaps, it’s opportunistic. I now how the camera sees, and if I see the light that looks interesting, I take a shot.”

An electronic version of Andrew Vorobyov’s photo in the microbiology lab is included in the March 25 issue of the e-Bulletin. Here is the link:

Charlie Li’s photo of a winter scene on campus can be viewed on page 16 of the March 25 issue. Visit and click on the March 25 issue.

© University of Toronto Scarborough