Uncommon Cameras

A chance to tell all our stories with a picture!

Uncommon Cameras, a photography competition open to all Mount Holyoke international alums, was held in 2021. This unique initiative, run by the European Alumnae Council and the Mount Holyoke Global Alumnae Alliance, was created to celebrate our vibrant and diverse global community, and to bring us virtually together during challenging times.

Uncommon Cameras aimed to celebrate joy, friendship, and creativity and to inspire alums to share images across cultures, geographical borders, and generations. We received 122 entries by 53 alums from 24 countries and five continents!

View Our Finalists & Winner

Competitors submitted photos in the following categories:

“Joy in My Life” 

“The World is My Home”

“A Room of One’s Own”

“I Think of MHC When…”

The categories were designed and refined in the hope of allowing imagination to flow. There was no ‘correct’ approach, they were purposefully broad and open to interpretation!

  • All types of photographs were welcome, with the exclusion of selfies or photos of recognizable minors.
  • You did not need to be a professional photographer to enter the competition! 
  • Photos could be taken using a camera, tablet, mobile phone, etc. The only criteria was light editing only (i.e. no Instagram-type filters). The automatic filters your phone and camera apply were completely fine though! 

Upon submission all photographs were posted in our Instagram account @mhc.European.Alumnae.Council, here on our website and on our different Mount Holyoke Alumnae Facebook groups.


Uncommon Cameras Competition_MHEAC


The Competition & Prizes

An international jury of distinguished specialists in the field of photography, all MHC siblings, evaluated the submissions and selected a total of 12 winners in the different categories.

An ultimate “super winner” was chosen among the finalists by all members of our international community through online voting. All 12 winners received a copy of our cookbook Uncommon Kitchens-Festive Edition.

The winning photos are permanently displayed in a special “Honor Gallery” in the MHEAC website and will be used in future communications projects, representing the creativity and spirit of our global alums community.


Meet Your Judges…

The Uncommon Cameras jury includes the following photography and art professionals:

Jennifer Ransom - Uncommon Cameras MHEAC Jennifer Ransom ‘65 – United Kingdom

A life-long interest in photography began with a Box “Brownie” birthday present, age 5. After graduating from Mount Holyoke with a BA in English Literature, she moved to London, interning as an advertising copywriter. But images appealed as much as words, so, after a 3-year, post-graduate Photography Degree from Harrow College of Art and Technology, she was employed as staff advertising photographer for Kodak Limited, London for 2 decades. Thereafter, she worked as a freelance photographer, while also teaching on amateur and professional photography courses. In 1998, she earned an MA in Women’s Studies from The University of Westminster, London, with her thesis entitled: “What can a Woman do with a Camera in the Landscape?” – an illustrated interrogation of multiple threads of Feminist Theory. She has now put the 10×8 studio camera aside but is never without a hand-bag size camera. Throughout her career, she has been a popular judge of photo competitions.

Claudia Palmira - Uncommon Cameras MHEACClaudia Palmira ’95 – Italy

Native New Yorker Claudia Palmira has run her eponymous design studio since she graduated from Mount Holyoke College. Clients have included Bulgari Hotels, the United Nations Women for Peace, The Vatican Women’s Association, the Platinum Eye / A & E television series and, recently, Beacon International Group, Inc. An exhibited artist, she has had solo and group shows in New York and Rome, notably presenting her “Iconics”, a style she created that integrates and finds harmonies in the mixing of well-known art images with contemporary techniques in mixed media. Adapting “iconics” and its stylistic references both to objects d’art and functional designs, her signature line, Clù, launches in May 2021. Claudia Palmira lives in Rome with her husband, photographer Mauro Benedetti, and their son, actor Ludovico Benedetti.

Instagram: @claudiapalmiraa

Website: ClaudiaPalmira.com

Sonali Gulati - Uncommon Cameras MHEACSonali Gulati ’96 – US/India

Independent filmmaker, a feminist, a queer rights activist, and an educator. She teaches film at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts in the department of Photography & Film. She has an MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and a BA in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College. Gulati grew up in New Delhi and has made several films that have screened at over four hundred film festivals worldwide. Her films have screened at venues such as the Hirshhorn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and at film festivals such as the Margaret Mead Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival and Slamdance Film Festival. Gulati is a Guggenheim Fellow in the area of film and has received support for her work from the Creative Capital Foundation, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Third Wave Foundation, Tribeca All Access, and World Studio Foundation.

Instagram: @sonalifilm

Website: Sonalifilm.com

Sylvia Xue Bai - Uncommon Cameras MHEACSylvia Xue Bai (白雪) ‘07 – China

Founder of Fun Matters, a gallery based in Beijing aiming to bring art closer to people’s daily lives, to satisfy the increasing interest and need of Chinese cosmopolitan class. Fun Matters operates both online through Chinese social media and through nomad exhibitions with selected partners, such as hotels and bookstores, etc. Fun Matters promotes Chinese and international artists in these dynamic ways and meets consumers where they do not often expect. Fun Matters was founded in 2018 between Beijing and Berlin. Sylvia has more than a decade of experience working at the intersection of art and business, in both London, United States, and several cities in China. Sylvia also writes for several art and design publications and does simultaneous interpretation for art conferences. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with Double Majors in Economics and French and received a M.Litt Degree in Modern and Contemporary Art History from Christie’s Education (University of Glasgow) in London.

Instagram: @sylviaaaaa.xuebai

Website: FunMatters.com

Christine BoehmChristine Boehm ’09 – Germany

Cultural Marketing professional, she started working professionally with photography as photo editor at German broadcaster „Deutsche Welle”, always searching for the perfect shot. As Marketing Manager at the Museum Kunstpalast in Duesseldorf she currently promotes Fine Art photography and enjoys developing Instagram challenges, most recently for a Peter Lindbergh exhibition.

Instagram: @christinesofiamaria


Uncommon Cameras MHEAC Phone Photo by Sea