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The Oliver Rock Art Photography Award

Mark Oliver is a photographer living in Solvang, California. He worked with Bill Hyder and Georgia Lee to photograph rock art throughout southern California in the late 1970s and 1980s with an emphasis on the Chumash and Easter Island. Mark proposed and provided the initial funding for the Oliver Award after constructing a temporary studio and light setup inside Painted Cave powered by a portable generator. He reasoned that ARARA needed to encourage and reward photographers who made the extra effort to improve rock art photography.

This award recognizes excellence in the art and science of photography in the service of the study and appreciation of rock art.

Rock art photography must illuminate and educate people that have not had the opportunity to see a site first hand. The art of rock art photography is in capturing the experience of the site, not just in reproducing what is painted or etched upon a wall of stone, but also in evoking a sense of place and the feelings and emotions that invariably one experiences at a rock art site to help others appreciate the rarity and beauty of this art form.

Rock art photography must meet the criteria for objectively evaluating and measuring the subject so that the judgments drawn from data obtained from photographs are valid and useful. In the absence of scientific criteria upon which to base our photography, we must follow convention inasmuch as we can, but willingly discard it when it can no longer help us solve the problems facing us. We must acknowledge new, and often, controversial scientific work in the field of photography that may lead to another way of understanding rock art.

Consideration will be given to submissions which may include all conventional still or motion film mediums, scientific film mediums, video, and digital image captures done on location. It does not extend to multimedia "productions" although the scope of the award may be expanded in the future. Entries using digital enhancement must include a description of the techniques involved. The judges expect that the entries will include a discussion of the ethics of the enhancements or manipulations used in producing the entry and how they contribute to the science of rock art research.

Entries may include a single image or a portfolio of images of a single site or cluster of sites. Entries should be accompanied by a cover letter that explains how the entry meets the criteria of the award. In other words, how does it provide a viewer with new information or a new appreciation of the site or sites. This is particularly necessary in the case of scientific studies where the techniques used may be unfamiliar to the judges. The letter should also summarize the applicant's previous work in rock art (a copy of a resume or curriculum vitae is acceptable).

Nominations will be accepted any time prior to January 31 by:

William D. Hyder
ARARA—Oliver Award
128 S. Navarra Dr.
Scotts Valley  CA   95066

Bill Hyder will make a decision at least one month before the conference and communicate this decision to the Awards Committee Chair and the ARARA Board who has the final decision making approval.

An award recipient will receive $500 award and a certificate at the ARARA conference.

The winning entry will become part of ARARA's archive of rock art photography. The recipient (or legal owner of the original images if not the photographer) will grant ARARA the right to exhibit the winning entry and to reproduce it in ARARA publications. All other rights to the use of the image(s) remain the property of the photographer or other legal owner of the original images.

Past recipients include (award not given in years not listed):

  • 1996: Rick Bury  House of the Sun: The Seasons

  • 1996: Honorable Mentions: Rick Pahuta, Leon Yost

  • 1997: Clay Martin) Rock Paintings of Hueco Tanks

  • 1998: Alain Briot Little Petroglyph Canyon

  • 2000: William L. Johnson

  • 2002: Robert Mark and Evelyn Billo Canyon de Chelly, A Painted Landscape and Digital Image Enhancement and Mosaic Techniques in Rock Art Recording

  • 2004: Reinaldo Morales Jr.

  • 2005: Anne Carter

  • 2006: Diane Orr Utah's Vanishing Rock Art: 360-Degree Panoramas

  • 2008: Craig Law The Harvest Scene in the Maze District

  • 2010: John Wimberley Evidence of Magic (Great Basin rock art)

  • 2010 Technical Achievement: Jon Harman DStretch

  • 2011: Courtney Smith Caborca Rojos: Two Hills in Northern Sonora

  • 2012: Dave Manley Upper Sand Island

  • 2015: Francois Gohier

  • 2016: Wayne Suggs

  • 2017: Jeff LaFave Global Rock Art in its Landscape Context

  • 2019: Ekkehart Malotki
  • 2021: Mark Willis

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