Susan Brandt Graham

2017 PSWD Photography Judge Award

2017 Pacific Southwest District Outstanding Rose Photography Judge Award

The 2017 PSWD Outstanding Rose Photography Judge Award was a huge, but welcome, surprise to me. With many thanks to all of the people responsible for this honor!

2017 Photography Judge Award Susan Brandt Graham Photography: Spring 2017 Roses &emdash;

I began work in the PSWD in 2008 to develop guidelines for judging rose photographs in our rose shows. I was already an ARS Accredited Horticulture and Arrangements Judge. But because I did not want to feel I was “shooting from the hip” in working for rose photographs in rose shows, I did UNM CE’s entire program in Digital Photography. I wanted to feel and to be competent for the task I set for myself. In 2012, the ARS recognized rose photography and set up a new committee to work on guidelines. It has been an honor to work with that national committee to establish working guidelines at the national level. It has been gratifying to see much of my work from the PSWD level incorporated into the guidelines at the national level.

The citation was read by Juanita Ortega, current Chair of Photography for the PSWD, at the District Convention, April 22, 2017:

The recipient of this award is an American Rose Society Accredited Horticulture and/or Arrangement Judge who has advanced the exhibition of rose photographs at local and district rose shows in the Pacific Southwest District. By encouraging rosarians to photograph their roses, our societies have attracted more members and contributed to the enjoyment of our national flower by the public.

This year, we recognize the efforts of one of the founders of this newest division of American Rose Society Rose Shows. For many years, she organized seminars and classes to teach interested ARS members the basics of photographing and displaying roses. She organized Rose Photography Divisions at national, district and local rose shows. This Photography Judge served on the American Rose Society Photography Guidelines Committee from 2012 through 2015.

The 2017 Pacific Southwest District Outstanding Rose Photography Judge Award is presented to Dr. Susan Brandt Graham from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Many thanks, Juanita, to you and the photographers of the PSWD. ~ Susan


Old Photos

Old Photos

Going back through old photos can be a bit of a challenge and also an interesting reminder of what once was. These images were made with the first digital camera I owned, a Nikon Coolpix 4300. Everything was on Automatic, including the flash. 🙂 That camera died after years of good use, and shortly after these images were made. I had purchased it for the sole purpose of photographing roses I judged at rose shows.

This slide show is made of images taken in June, 2008 at an ARS Rose Judging Seminar in Palm Springs, California. A lot of the same people are around today, but the overall atmosphere, goals, principles, and values of the District where this was held are palpably different.

If you prefer looking at individual images rather than a slide show, the Gallery is here.

This post will ultimately scroll off the front page, so I have also posted the video on the “People” page of this website.

spring and roses

Dream Weaver Spray

Dream Weaver Spray – Queen of Show in Photography at ARS 2014 Fall National

Spray of Rose Dream Weaver

Spray of rose, ‘Dream Weaver.’ Image awarded ‘Queen’ at the ARS Fall 2014 National Convention.

‘Dream Weaver’ is a rose classified as a Climbing Floribunda. It can produce beautiful and large sprays.

This photograph of a Dream Weaver spray won Queen of Show in the Photography portion of the American Rose Society 2014 Fall Convention and Show. In roses, ‘Queen’ is the equivalent of ‘Best in Show.’

Many thanks to the judges for awarding this image. I especially appreciated that the judges in this national show used the Score Card for judging rose photographs developed when I served as the first Chairman of Photography in the Pacific Southwest District. When I began that task in the PSWD, it was clear that some system and uniformity was necessary. To see that used at the national level is very gratifying to me. Much less gratifying is overhearing judges instructions being given at local shows in the Pacific Southwest District where the instructions are one person’s opinion with no reference to the score card. But, that will change when only accredited rose judges are allowed to judge the rose photographs. Change may be slow, but it will happen.


PSWD Horticulture Judging School In Palm Desert, June 7 – 8, 2008

This weekend the Pacific Southwest District had a great Horticulture Judging School and Seminar in Palm Desert, California.

Click HERE to view a PowerPoint slide show from the school/seminar.


The American Rose Society at the Crossroads: The Cost of Gas and Other Odds and Ends

Yesterday, one of the moderators asked a great question over at Rosarians Corner; “will the cost of gasoline affect your attendance at rose shows?”

In my opinion, the American Rose Society (and probably a lot of other volunteer hobby societies) was in some trouble before the ever-increasing cost of gasoline even became an issue. But I think that additional cost is going to force the hand of many such groups in general. I will speak to the ARS only, though, because it is what I know best. This is what I wrote in response to that question:

I think your concern is valid, and those concerns have implications not just for exhibitors but also for judges, and in some ways, for the ARS.

Most of the answers here in this thread suggest that long-term exhibitors will continue to exhibit, when they have roses, no matter what the cost. That is excellent. But, will we be able to develop enough new, young exhibitors who will be able to carry on when today’s exhibitors reach an age at which they are no longer able to do so? Today’s young people are caught in a time and money crunch raising families, more often than not with a mom who works full-time to make ends meet. What, as a society, do we have to offer these people, who have lots of people and concerns competing for their time and money? What do people envision for the future of exhibiting 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

Then, there is the issue of judges for shows. I am no spring chicken, and yet I often feel like one of the younger judges at shows. Our judges are aging and dying (no point in beating around the bush, no matter how thorny!), and many wouldn’t travel more than 50 miles to judge a show even before gas prices started to soar. Will we have adequate judges to maintain the number of shows to which we have become accustomed?

Hopefully the PSWD Horticulture Judging School in Palm Springs weekend after next will produce some new apprentices. We need more up-and-coming judges willing and able to travel if we are to maintain our current number of shows.

Which brings up another point. I have heard through the grapevine, so hopefully it is not really correct, that the plan is to make the judging test harder. I cannot help but wonder what the thought process behind that is. I thought the practical portion of the horticulture judging exam was harder than any practical gross anatomy exam in medical school! If TPTB feel a different process is needed to produce better judges, fine. I can see a user-friendly mentoring process, or something of that sort, to encourage people, rather than increasing the fail rate at a time when we need to be encouraging young judges. JMHO.

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