When Jill Bedford moved to a farmstead, she started to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers, which she would sell at farmers markets. Bedford would take pictures of her bouquets, and discovered people wanted to buy the photographs.
“I’ve always been compelled to bring my garden together, and just document it in this little moment in time,” said Bedford, of Delafield, Wis.
She would sell the photos at art shows and was able to make a living. Now, she has a major award to go with it.
Bedford, who turned 61 on Saturday, was selected as the 2015 best of show winner at the Belleville’s Art on the Square.
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Setting up her pictures can be similar in concept to using watercolors on a canvas.
“I always think of them as paintings when I’m composing,” Bedford said. “I never think of them as photographs.”
Bedford’s background is in botany and she would give talks on planting wildflower gardens. She wanted to use slides as part of her lectures, so she started taking photographs of plants in their natural setting.
When taking her pictures, Bedford prefers to use film and has her own darkroom.
“I’m trying to maintain that patina that film and (using) a darkroom has,” Bedford said.
When using film she has to be judicious with each shot, because there are a limited amount of frames on a roll.
“I spent so much time on lighting over the years. With digital, it allows you to click-click-click away,” Bedford said. “Somehow there’s this discipline I learned over the years, that’s there’s a deeper relationship with lighting and that film camera ...You’re more mindful of each shot, your F-stop, and depth of field.”
Bedford was chosen as Best of Show from the 105 artists at the 14th annual art show.
“It was a very competitive field, there was a lot of fine work,” said Competition Committee Director Julie Harvey. “Photography is always a strong category for this show. (Jill) stood out.”
Art on the Square Founding Director Patty Gregory said Bedford arranges her flowers, fruits and vegetables into a still-life picture.
“People were very engaged with her when they found out it was everything she had grown,” Gregory said.
2015 Art on the Square awards
Best of Show - Jill Bedford, photography
Award in memory of Tammy Courtney - Jerald Peterson, watercolor
Ed and Helen Karasek Illinois Artist award - Mary and Spencer Watson, jewelry
Joan Voss Renner award - Mark Stephenson, photography
Mayor’s Choice award - Yoram Gal, mixed media
Barb King Jewelry award - Jo Jennings
Rotary Club of Belleville award - Wayne Trinklein, fine craft
Best of Clay award - Roberta Polfus
Best of Digital/Graphic Design - Keith Grace
Best of Drawing/Print - Robin Lauersdorf
Best of Fine Craft - Robert Farrell
Best of Glass - Michael Mikula and Mark Sudduth
Best of Jewelry - Tom McGurrin
Best of Mixed Media - Ella Richards and Chris Wheeler
Best of Oil and Acrylic - Brian Burt
Best of Photography - Brad Pogatetz
Best of Sculpture - David Bryce
Best of Watercolor - Scott Hartley
Best of Wood - Jeff Easley
Awards of Excellence - Joe Cyberski, jewelry; Michael Mode, wood; Daniel Powers, photography; Chris and Katie Robleski, photography; Beth Solomon, jewelry; Tricia Young, jewelry; and Scott Wilson, watercolor.