Edmonds is set to host a marathon — for photographers, not runners.
And while participants won’t need special shoes, they will have to bring creativity, quick thinking and an eye for photography.
At the 11th annual Edmonds Photomarathon, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Edmonds and set to begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 8 in downtown Edmonds, photographers will interpret and photograph six themes in six hours.
The themes — such as a particular color or emotion — are kept secret until the day of the event.
The top photograph from each category will receive awards, while the best overall photo wins a $500 grand prize.
All photographs will be displayed in an exhibit Sept. 20 at the Foundation for International Services in Edmonds. An awards ceremony at 5 p.m. that day will be followed by a reception.
Photomarathons aren’t as popular here as they are in Europe — at least not yet.
Pat Thorpe, a Ballard resident and member of the Rotary Club, launched the local event 10 years ago. She considers Edmonds to be a picturesque city — and the perfect location for a photomarathon.
“Everybody thought I was crazy at first,” Thorpe said. “It’s a concept that we’ve had to work to educate people on what it is. Then, once they come, people say they love it.”
Edmonds resident Andrea Stone is one such photographer. She’s competed in nearly all of Thorpe’s marathons.
“I fell in love with it the first time I did it,” Stone said. “It’s very fun and it’s challenging. That’s why I keep doing it every year.”
The 43-year-old epidemiologist won the top prize in 2017 when she snapped a photo of her son, Luka, doing a back flip on an Edmonds beach, with a ferry in the background.
The theme for the category was “marvelous.”
“Sometimes the categories are tricky to try and think about them creatively,” Stone said. “That’s probably one of the most challenging parts.”
Photographers must submit only one photo per themed category, but they can take as many photos as they want to get the perfect one.
Editing the pictures to add or subtract elements is prohibited.
Edmonds Photomarathon begins at the office of RBC Wealth Management on Fifth Avenue, where topics will be announced and posted online at 10 a.m.
Participants can use the allotted six hours to take and submit their photos within the city of Edmonds, or do it as quickly as they’d like. Thorpe said families often participate and split up who takes which photos.
Teams of up to four people are allowed.
Thorpe said part of the beauty of the photomarathon is that amateur photographers have just as much of a chance to win as professionals.
“Believe it or not, we’ve had a couple of teenagers win,” Thorpe said. “It’s the cleverness of the topic that seems to do it.”
Janet Jensen, who owns Jensen Graphics on Dayton Street, has judged the competition the past three years. It’s done blind without name tags on the photos.
Jensen said she first analyzes whether the photos fit the theme, then if they meet technical criteria, such as being in focus, using the rule of thirds and a proper use of lighting.
“It’s always difficult,” Jensen said of picking a winner. “But, generally there’s always a few that pop out.”
If you go
What: Edmonds Photomarathon
Where: RBC Wealth Management, 303 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 8
Tickets: $25 registration fee
More: 425-215-1585 or www.edmondsphotomarathon.com
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated when the Edmonds Photomarathon was occurring.