The New Mexico True Stories contest has reached its final stages, and the Grand Prize voting period has begun. Finalists include not one, but two locals. Not only did Juliana Halvorson make it to the top 20, but Gail Dodgin, a 31-year New Mexico resident, also broke into the finals, using her photos to tell a revisited story.
After traveling around with their three kids, Dodgin and her husband, Randy, already knew they liked the Land of Enchantment. But now that they are empty nesters, they revisited various locations as a couple instead of a family, realizing again why New Mexico got its nickname.
Based on the theme, her photos are an “insider’s guide” to the state, as well as a unique perspective that comes only from her experiences both with and without children.
“(The photos are) my depiction of living in the state for (31) years and having raised a family and really done everything we could do as a family throughout the state: hike, ski, bike, fish, camp — done all that drill,” Dodgin said. “But this summer, we took a trip, my husband and I, and it was (the two of us) just kind of rediscovering the state, (doing) different things, maybe in the same area, things to do more as a couple versus having a family life.”
After all was said and done though, choosing only a few photos from the 600 she took was no easy task. Dodgin said she had many she loved of landscapes, but that it was hard to choose a favorite place from all the pretty places in New Mexico.
“There’s different beauty throughout the state, which is what’s unique within the state,” she said. “From the desert to the mountains, I mean, there’s beauty in all of it.”
Although the adventure and challenge of taking prize-winning photos was motivational, the $5,000 prize money wouldn’t be frowned upon. For Dodgin, she has three uses in mind for the money, should she win it. The money would be broken into three small donations: to give back to Roswell through the Roswell Refuge, some to the Bible education work she is involved with and the last third to a “deserving family member” who could use some help moving back into the state.
“We’re at a position in our life … and really have anything and everything (we) really need,” she said of her and her husband.
Ultimately she didn’t enter for the money. It was for the joy of the trip.
“Our summer was fun because we just kind of pretended like we were honeymooners again,” she said.
To vote for your favorite True Story, go to newmexico.org and create an account — and don’t forget that you can vote every day. Whether people vote for Dodgin or her local rival Halvorson, Dodgin said she hopes people will vote for Roswell either way. Voting continues until August 18.