Sunflowers and the State Fair


I was ready to throw in the towel with 2020. COVID-19 caused so many cancellations of social events, and when the MN State Fair was cancelled, so I thought were my chances for submitting another photo into the Fine Arts competition. The Minnesota State Fair is visited by hundreds of thousands over its 10 days period from the end of August through Labor Day. But much to my surprise, the State Fair announced that "the show must go on" and figured out how to proceed responsibly. Tickets will be sold in limited quantities to the exhibit for each of the 10 days the Fair would have been opened in 90 minute time-frames for viewing in person. In addition, they are also going virtual with a full online viewing and catalog for all participants.


This is my 12th time entering in the photography category, and you can only imagine how many must enter. This year, I decided to do some crowdsourcing to help me choose an image to submit. Turns out that one of my Sunflowers photos was the big hit. Problem is that the subject of Sunflowers was overwhelmingly popular with photographers this summer. I took the chance and submitted the image based on my social polls. And good thing I did!


"Dear Lisa,

Congratulations! Your piece “Sunflower Dawn” has been accepted into the 2020 Fine Arts Exhibition of Minnesota!"

—Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts 2020

Back story on the photograph

It was one of those summer days... a warm evening, clear skies. I had heard about some sunflower fields north of the Twin Cities. I decided I wanted to get a different view that your traditional bright and sunnies and headed up just before sunrise. My goal was to get there just before the sun started showing up on the horizon.

The weather was perfect. Clear, just a bit of humidity to help form dew on the flowers and leaves. I had the field to myself and before the bees came out and got busy. Wondering into the field being careful not to damage the plants, I grabbed my gear and began shooting. The sunflowers were at their peak, so some just passing - tall and lifting their faces in search of the sun. I must have taken close to 100 photos that morning before other people started to arrive.

Once I got home and chose the photos I just loved, the developing process started balancing shadows, light, contrast, and color. The result ended up with an image that was accepted by the judge for the competition.