At just 13, Emily Woodward-Shaw has an eye for seeing what the average person does not. That gift has, for the second consecutive year, earned her an award for photography from Scholastic, Inc., the largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.
“I want to capture that moment that nobody else understands,” said Emily, whose photograph of the Van Deren cabin in Sedona earned her an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards—the only award to a student from Arizona.
An eighth-grader at Athlos Traditional Academy in Chandler, Emily discovered the cabin while on a jeep tour with her family—parents Nick and Laura, and 10-year-old sister Olivia—and was captivated by its colorful history and timeworn exterior.
“I wanted to capture a perspective people don’t usually see,” she said, explaining her choice to keep the focus on the cracks and abrasions in the wood.
Photographs submitted to the competition must be entirely unedited. “You have the get the lighting and the focus just right,” she said.
Last year, Emily took home Gold Medal honors at both the state and national level for her photograph titled, “Standing By,” a black and white silhouette of a young dancer just before stepping onto the stage—another image most theater-goers rarely ever experience. Her win earned her a trip to the awards ceremony at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Emily, who moved with her family to Arizona from the village of Cheshire in northern England two years ago, credits her father Nick for inspiring her to take up photography and for teaching her the basics of composition, lighting and camera functions.
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards dates back to 1923 and has since become the most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S. A noteworthy roster of past winners includes Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and John Updike.