Texture in nature
Texture in nature

Zoolens is a project created and designed to foster a deeper understanding of the beauty that wildlife possesses. By spending time observing the animals and capturing them in photos, Zoolens hopes students will learn to appreciate and value what nature has to offer. Zoolens provides a wonderful opportunity for students to express their creativity through photography while strengthening their education.

Mercantil Commercebank’s 2013 Zoolens Photography Project gave the opportunity to Middle School (6th, 7th and 8th grade) students of the public and private schools of Miami-Dade County to gain a deeper appreciation of our world’s wildlife through the beautiful art of photography. On December 12, a group of expert judges will choose which three finalists had the most howling pictures, as well as 10 honorable mention winners.

Gabriela Lopez was the 1st place winner of our 2013 Zoolens Photography Contest. Her photo, titled Texture in Nature was truly great and was taken with a Nikon Coolpix P520. The Young Photographer was awarded with $2,000 usd and One-year Student membership to the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).

The Story Behind the Photo Texture in Nature by Gabriela Lopez

Gabriela was at the Zoo with her parents enjoying the presence of the elephant that were quietly pacing around their usual mist when she noticed that the smallest one in the group was playing in a way that seems to be rocking himself back and forth comfortably. This movement intriguingly caught her attention as she had spent way over three hours at the Zoo trying to spot the right picture to take. “This seemed to be the right shot”, said Gabriela who by the time of this interview was still speechless at the notion of having won the contest.

“I never thought I would win, though I did my best to get the right shot that would make me get included in the finalists 10 first.” Manifested Gabriela seemingly shy. “There was so much talent in the participants”.

We have been reported that members of the jury once they saw the picture, they really satisfied with the quality and the eye level angle that created a personal and inviting feeling.

The young photographer, Gabriela Lopez, is in her 8th grade at Miami K8 Center and she hopes to continue making genuine photography and one day become a graphic designer of video games.

Judges of the Mercantil Commercebank’s 2013 Zoolens Photography Project

Patrick Farrell
Patrick Farrell has been a photographer with The Miami Herald since 1987. He is the recipient of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography—awarded for his photographs of the devastation in Haiti caused by a particularly brutal hurricane season. Farrell has documented three decades of major news events, both locally and abroad, including the 1989 race riots in Miami’s Overtown University of Miami in 1981.

Ron Magill
Nikon® Ambassador Ron Magill has worked with wildlife for over 30 years and has had the privilege of having “hands-on” experience with a tremendous variety of animals. As Zoo Miami’s “Goodwill Ambassador,” he has made frequent television appearances on many programs, including National Geographic Explorer, the Today show, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS’ The Early Show, Dateline, and various shows on CNN. Magill is also a regular guest on several Spanish language television programs, including international hits Sabado Gigante and Despierta America. In addition, he has written and produced many wildlife articles and award-winning photographs that have appeared in publications and galleries around the world. Magill has traveled extensively throughout Africa, India and Tropical America while developing and directing award-winning conservation projects and documentaries focused on the wildlife of those regions.

Maria Martinez-Cañas
Maria Martinez-Cañas was born in Havana, Cuba. She received a B.F.A. in Photography from the Philadelphia College of Art and an M.F.A. in Photography from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. An artist who works with innovative, non-traditional photographic media, she has exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad, with 34, one-person exhibitions and over 250 group exhibitions. Martinez-Cañas is the recipient of a Cintas Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts award, and a Fulbright-Hays grant, among others. Her works are included in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, among others. Her work is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery, New York; Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami; Schneider Gallery, Chicago; and De Santos Gallery, Houston. Martinez-Cañas has lived and worked in Miami since 1986.

Rosario Martinez-Cañas
Rosario Martinez-Cañas was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and then moved to Miami, where she worked in the graphic design field for several years. In 1991, she founded The Image Designers Group, an award-winning graphic design studio that has been featured in several books, including “Hot Graphics USA.” While running her graphic design business, Martinez-Cañas began teaching as an adjunct professor at New World School of the Arts. In 2006, she received a master’s degree in graphic design from Miami International University of Art and Design. That same year, she was hired as a full-time faculty member of New World School of the Arts, in charge of the graphic design department. Martinez-Cañas served on the board of directors of the American Institute of Graphic Arts [AIGA]-Miami Chapter for six years.

Grizzel Gonzalez VP, Marketing Services, Mercantil Commercebank
Grizzel M. Gonzalez serves as Vice President, Marketing/Channels Manager at Mercantil Commercebank N.A., responsible for the coordination of marketing programs across physical and virtual channels. Gonzalez has been an active board member of the Zoological Society of Florida since 2006— involved in the preservation of wildlife and the further development of Zoo Miami, as well as responsible for spearheading efforts to name the Mercantil Commercebank Children’s Zoo at Zoo Miami. Born in Cuba, Gonzalez moved to the United States when she was 18-months old and considers herself a Florida native. She attended Coral Gables High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Florida International University. She regularly volunteers with the League Against Cancer, March of Dimes and other nonprofit organizations. Gonzalez is an active volunteer at SMMCS Broadcast Arts Booster and served as Treasurer of the Board of Coral Gables Elementary School’s PTA from 2002 through 2004.

Texture in Nature by Gabriela Lopez, Winner Of The Mercantil Commercebank’s 2013 Zoolens Photography Project. Read The Story Of Winning Photo By Gabriela