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Picture Perfect at the Skills Manitoba Competition

June 4, 2018

Joe Kerr (Instructor), Min Kim (silver medalist), Heather Beckstead (gold medalist) and Rodney Braun (Lead Instructor)

A picture is worth a thousand words. The story, emotions, creativity and energy that can be captured in a photograph proves this fact, and the observer can identify, appreciate and enjoy the captivating work-of-art. This passion is what fuels photographers to bring their photos to life in creative visions.

The 21st annual Skills Manitoba Competition was held on April 12 at Red River College (RRC’s) Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses. Over 475 students, from high school, post-secondary and apprenticeship programs, competed in 42 different skilled trades and technology challenges in six industry sectors. Achieving a medal at this level is no easy feat!

Two of RRC’s Professional Photography students participated in this competition and came out on top! Taking home the gold and silver medals in photography were Heather Beckstead and Min Kim, respectively. Congratulations on an impressive accomplishment!

Their challenge in this competition was to take three images that depicted document usage, oral communication and a mystery object. Participants were armed with a campus map of the various trades and technology events taking place, and were given the autonomy to choose an area, such as bricklaying, cabinet making or automotive, where their first two images could be captured.

Glow sticks were the mystery object to be creatively included in the third image, in any imaginative way the photographer desired. RRC’s gold medal winner found a bicycle, lit the glow sticks and wove them through the spokes of the bicycle tire. Spinning the tire and using a slow shutter speed, Beckstead successfully captured a continuous ring of light. As she explains, “It’s creativity that often sets a photo apart. Keeping things simple and not overthinking it can make for the best photos.”


Silver medal winner Min Kim used a blend of strategy, technical skill and creativity in his version of the glow stick image. He made a composite of two separate photos to create an end result that showed him throwing the glow stick towards the camera in the most natural way – when in fact, no glow sticks were thrown and the only camera operator was Kim. He clearly had the judges stunned, explaining with a laugh, “They had that ‘how did you do that’ look on their faces!”


Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Kim and his family moved to Winnipeg two years ago. After starting out in RRC’s Creative Communications program, a lifelong interest in photography prompted him to switch gears and enroll in the College’s Professional Photography program. “For me, photography is a lot of fun,” says Kim, who hopes to soon be hired as a full-time photographer and looks forward to gaining the experience and enjoyment that comes from different and challenging opportunities.

Beckstead’s story of how she became involved in photography is inspiring, and should motivate others to pursue their passion, no matter what life brings. An interest in photography from a young age prompted her to take some related high school courses. Although Beckstead pursued a career in administration, she found a way to incorporate photography in each of the positions she held. Her love of photography motivated her to take the next step and enroll in RRC’s eight-month program. “I wanted to do it properly,” Beckstead said. “I wanted to have a solid foundation. I wanted to be able to talk about it, to know what to do and how to do it.” Beckstead credits the program’s instructors for their support and assistance in preparing for this competition. “In class, everything is critiqued and we all have the same guidelines,” she explains. Understanding this process and having the experience of applying constructive feedback bodes well for future competitions.

Beckstead will be traveling to Edmonton in early June to compete in the Skills Canada National Competition, where participants will have two days to shoot 11 images, including more mystery objects! She is looking forward to the experience of being a part of Team Manitoba and learning what other competitors do in similar situations. We wish her all the best!

Skills Manitoba provides opportunities for students pursuing careers in trades and technology to participate in various challenges designed to test their skills in their chosen fields. Students’ performance is evaluated by industry professionals, who along with employers, educators, labour groups and governments use this opportunity to ensure that programming and training are relevant and meet industry needs. In today’s economy, many factors – including technology, the marketplace and workplace demographics – are continuously changing. As a result, Manitoba employers and educators must reassess how they will meet the needs of future labour markets and ensure a succession of well-trained employees for tomorrow’s economy.

This competition drives awareness of the wide range of trades and technology careers and highlights the impact these skills have on the future of our province.

Learn more about the Professional Photography program here. There are a few space left for August 2018 intake.