Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Names People’s Choice Award Winner for 2025

HAGERSTOWN, MD – Washington County Museum of Fine Arts visitors have spoken. Valerie Dyer of Frederick, Maryland, was selected as the People’s Choice Award Winner in the Cumberland Valley Photographers Exhibition, for “Into the Fog.”

The annual juried exhibition was on view March 23-June 2, 2024, at the museum. During that time, museums visitors voted on the exhibition for their favorite photograph included in the exhibition.

Dyer’s photography also won the Third Place Juror’s Award. Jurors for the exhibition were Anne Gridley and Gary Graves of Gridley + Graves Photographers.

“This image was captured in Prague, Czech Republic. It was taken during the winter. I was trying to capture a colorful sunrise on the Charles Bridge in Prague,” Dyer said.” I looked out the window and saw fog instead. I headed out for some pictures of the bridge which were not coming out as I had hoped. I decided to change locations, and went down to the river’s edge. I loved the scene of the trees, fog and the bridge tower. I had no idea there were birds in the trees. I was taking pictures of the scene in front of me when something spooked the birds, which caused them all to fly out of the trees at once.  I took as many pictures as I could as I knew it would be a more compelling image with the birds.”

It was serendipitous that Dyer was there when she was. “Many times, photography is a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” she said. “This was one of those instances. I did go back to the same location a year later, and I was sad to see the branches of the trees on the left side of the image had been cut back to the trunk, so this image will never be captured again.”

Dyer, who shot the image with a Nikon D750, originally thought the image should be in a sepia tone, but decided to convert it to black-and-white. “It made much more of an impression on me in black and white, and to me, it captured more of the mood at the time,” she said.

The photograph was a favorite among visitors and the jurors. Dyer said she thinks
“ the image captures the attention of others because it conveys multiple feelings/reactions. I have received different comments describing the image as dreamy, haunting, evocative, transporting, other-worldly, and mysterious.”

The jurors’ statement “mentioned that he felt there was a sense of loss and grief in the image. Loss or grief was not something I had thought of with this image, but I did experience a huge loss four years ago with the loss of my 18-year-old son,” she said.  “I found that comment to be extremely moving. I did receive a message from an art student who saw the image, and connected with it. She told me she was going to do her art project using the image. I was honored. I hope she got a good grade.”

The People’s Choice Award winner receives $100. Dyer also received $250 for her third-place award. She plans to use the money for her photography business Valerie Dyer Photography.

“It was an honor to be in the show and receive third place for this image,” she said. “This is probably my all-time favorite photo I have taken, and I’m thrilled and humbled others connected to it and found it inspiring. I would like to thank everyone who voted for this image.”

The Cumberland Valley Photographers exhibition was organized by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition was graciously supported by Hugh and Marty Talton, Delaplaine Foundation, and Washington County Arts Council.

Guidelines to submit to the 2025 Cumberland Valley Photographers Exhibition will be announced in the fall. Currently, the companion Cumberland Valley Artists Exhibition in on view through Aug. 25.