Award-Winning Photographer Gary D. Jones Exhibits in Hometown

by | Jul 5, 2024 | PHOTOGRAPHY

Petersburg native Gary D. Jones recently achieved a milestone by winning the prestigious Professional Photographers of America (PPA) Grand Imaging Award and a $10,000 prize for his captivating black and white portrait, The Destination Ahead. This image, featuring his mother Azzie L. Jones, was selected from 1,600 entries at the 2024 Imaging USA convention in Louisville, KY. Now, Jones is bringing his award-winning work back to his hometown with an exclusive exhibition at the Petersburg Area Arts League (PAAL) titled The Photography of Gary D. Jones: A Collection of Images and Memories of Petersburg, the Town Where I Grew Up.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Gary to discuss his journey and what visitors can expect from his exhibition.

Gary D. Jones wins Diamond at 1:110:00 and Grand Image Award at 1:30:00

R. Anthony Harris: Gary, congratulations on winning the PPA Grand Imaging Award! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Gary D. Jones: I was born in Petersburg, VA, and earned a BFA in Commercial Art & Design from Virginia State University. I’ve been with the Department of Veterans Affairs for 37 years and currently reside in Washington, DC.

RAH: How did your journey into photography begin?

GJ: My mom bought my first camera, a Pentax K1000, in 1982 for my senior class trip. Over the years, my love for photography grew. I use both 35mm and medium format film, as well as digital cameras.

RAH: Have you ever won an award like this before?

GJ: No, but I have won state awards in DC and North Carolina. This is my first time winning a cash award.

RAH: Your winning photo, The Destination Ahead, captures your mother gazing out the window of a bus. What do you think made this image stand out to the judges?

GJ: I entered the image in the International Print Competition (IPC), where 1,600 images were entered, and 500 made the cut. These were divided into 16 categories, with my category being Natural Portrait. After several rounds, I won the Diamond Award and $1,000. Then, the 16 Diamond winners went head-to-head, and I won the Grand Imaging Award. Several people told me that this was the first time in a long time that a real photograph won, as I did not use any Photoshop on it.

RAH: You currently have an exhibition at the Petersburg Area Arts League titled The Photography of Gary D. Jones: A Collection of Images and Memories of Petersburg, the Town Where I Grew Up. How did this show come about?

GJ: After my win was featured in the Progress-Index on February 15, 2024, the idea of having an exhibition was floated. I included some photos from a prior exhibition in 2018 and added new ones to it.

RAH: What has your experience been like working with PAAL?

GJ: It’s been great. I knew Cyndi Koe from the camera club, and the leadership and staff at PAAL have been very supportive, helping me at every step of this project.

RAH: You’ve been a member of the Cockade City Camera Club based in Petersburg for over a decade. What do you want people outside of the city to know about the city?

GJ: After a long decline, Petersburg is making a huge comeback. It’s not a city to bypass anymore. Come explore it; there is plenty of history here. Enjoy what it has to offer and bring friends!

RAH: What does the rest of the year look like for you? Any more exhibitions coming up or competitions?

GJ: Since the exhibition, I’ve been interviewed by WRIC ABC 8 (yet to be aired), spoken at an event for the Maryland Professional Photographers Association, and will speak at an event in North Carolina with PIGOENC. My photo will be published in PPA’s Professional Photographer Magazine July edition. As for entering competitions, I might sit out this year—it’s been one wild ride!

Don’t miss the chance to see Gary D. Jones’s incredible work up close and personal. Visit the Petersburg Area Arts League and experience The Photography of Gary D. Jones: A Collection of Images and Memories of Petersburg, the Town Where I Grew Up which is up from June 14th through August 3rd.

Main image is Destination Ahead by Gary D. Jones.


R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work:

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