News Article

Hobby Leads to National Recognition

The coronavirus pandemic has inspired more people than ever to take up a new hobby. Whether it be walking, cooking, crafting, or gardening, hobbies have helped people get outside, keep up some social connections and relieve boredom and anxiety during uncertain times. But few people’s hobbies end up being showcased front and center in the United States Capitol.

But that's exactly where OCS sophomore Maranda Jordahl’s photography hobby led. Her black and white of ocean spray on a rock, “La Grande Ola,” was the winner of the 2020 Congressional Art Competition for California’s 26th Congressional District, represented by Congresswoman Julia Brownley.

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The annual competition is sponsored by the members of the United States House of Representatives who, along with a panel of judges, select a winner from their own district. Congresswoman Brownley felt Jordahl’s photo was the best representation of the 26th district which encompasses the Ventura County coastline.

An Oxnard resident, Jordahl lives near the ocean and when COVID 19 shut school down and limited friends interacting, she headed to the beach which she calls her Zen spot. Taking photos of the beach helps her find beauty during the pandemic’s darker hours.

“I got interested in photography when I took Photo 1 last year. My teacher, Mr. Hessemer, got me involved in taking football photos, and that lead to discovering my own personal interest in black and white, and that is where I flourished when COVID hit. It became my hobby. Rather than class assignments, it became a reason to go outside and get out of the house,” she said.

It was Jordahl’s mother, Martha, who found out about the competition and encouraged her to enter. She enjoys looking for good photo spots with her dad, Jerry, and together they set out at high tide when the waves would come in hard and fast and hit the rocks with force.

“I wanted to test how fast the camera could capture motion with faster shutter speeds, adjusting exposure and the settings, especially with the sand and water and the glare. It was a bit of a difficult photo to get, but once I got that happy balance it was nice to get the shot,” she said.

Getting the shot was one thing, but making the deadline was another. A busy student and OCS water polo athlete, Jordahl entered the contest with only three hours to spare before the deadline! Then it was a game of hurry-up-and-wait for the result weeks later. She was notified via email and a call from Congresswoman Brownley.

“She said she was impressed by my art and how it represented the district well. It was so nice to hear that. This was my first win in a photo contest, and it meant a lot to have the congresswoman say my art was good,” Jordahl shared.

"It is a pleasure to see such remarkable talent displayed at such a young age,” said Congresswoman Brownley in a statement. 

The confidence boost has encouraged Jordahl to continue with her photography. She was recently in London where she shot an iconic English phone booth. She just entered that shot in a second contest, stressing more photo technic with spot color on a black and white.

Meanwhile, she hopes she and the family can soon make the trip to Washington, D.C., and have the special moment of seeing her art hang in the nation’s capitol, a singular honor for a high school student.

“We are trying to figure out how to make the trip in the upcoming months, my mom, brother, dad, and maybe my boyfriend, too. It would be so amazing to see it in person,” she said.