Cell phones and other digital devices enable pretty much anybody - even a newspaper columnist - to take a decent snapshot.
But to "make a picture," as the professionals say, you need the sort of skill, serendipity, and subject matter demonstrated by winners of the "Day in the Life of Camden County" photo contest.
"It's a celebration," says Melissa S. Daly, development associate at the Camden County College Foundation, which sponsored the competition.
About 25 people - students, nonstudents, and amateur and professional photographers - entered work at the end of last year.
A panel of judges from inside and outside the college selected nine winning photographs, which will become part of a permanent collection. They also will be displayed in campus buildings and on the college's website, Daly says.
"Part of our mission is to serve not just students but also people whose interests coincide with the things we do, including the arts," says college president Raymond Yannuzzi, whose office served as a gallery during a reception Wednesday.
Winners, who received a gift certificate for each photo (some won more than one), included Stephen Ehrlich, 56, a software developer from Cherry Hill. He contributed a bathed-in-sunset view of Camden's City Hall and a dramatic shot of rowers on the Cooper River. An amateur photographer since high school, Ehrlich says he entered the contest because "at a certain point after you take so many pictures, you just want to get them out" to the public.
Williamstown resident Kate McCarthy, 21, captured an autumnal view of Jefferson Hall on the Blackwood campus, where she is a second-year student. "I really wanted to get the leaves, and the light was right," McCarthy says. "I've entered a lot of contests, but I never expected to win."
When Nelson Quizhpi took his 4-year-old daughter, Juliette, to see the Camden Riversharks last summer, he took a camera, too. His winning image offers a dramatic view of Campbell's Field and the great arc of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
The black-and-white photo is a modest yet majestic portrait of America's pastime.
"I love baseball," explains Quizhpi, 30, a customer-service representative from Mantua. "And the way the sun was hitting that day gave me a lot of contrast."
The photographers clearly relish this chance to share their work - to offer the public a glimpse of what they've seen through the lens.
Says Ron Higman, "I'm not a good technical photographer, but I think I have an eye for picking out things people might like to look at."
Exhibit A: his shot of the Camden County boathouse on the Cooper River, vivid and rosy with the hues of early morning.
"I was driving to work one morning and noticed the light on the boathouse and pulled over," says Higman, a 62-year-old property manager who lives in Haddonfield.
John Tannock was the sole professional photographer among the winners.
His image of two River Line trains at downtown Camden stations is a moody slice of city life, and the explosive colors on the graffitied facade of a vacant building are simply gorgeous. "I was scouting locations for a magazine assignment when I saw the two trains, one going to Trenton, the other, Camden," the 63-year-old Cherry Hill resident says. "It was one of those right place, right time situations."
Philip Rychert, an art technician at the Blackwood campus, was one of the judges. He says they looked for technical proficiency and whether the photos had "something to say about Camden County."
Speaking the loudest, if the winners are any indication, are the Cooper River and downtown Camden. But, except for the rowers and some baseball fans, the people of Camden County seem largely out of the frame.
"I don't remember more than a couple of [entries] that had people in them," Rychert says.
"I would have liked to see more people in the photographs," Yannuzzi adds.
That's one reason the contest is widening its focus.
Look for "A Year in the Life of Camden County." The deadline for entries is October.