The AMC Photo Contest spotlights the different ways we experience the outdoors and the views we take in along the way. For all of us, that view changed over the past year. We announced the winners of last year’s contest just weeks before we found ourselves locked down and deeply uncertain about what the coming days would hold. When we began to leave our homes again, physically distanced and masked up, the outdoors was of course, still there.
As the judges reviewed this year’s entries, it was striking how little had actually changed outdoors. Each and every image delighted us, from hazy summit views and fiery sunsets, to skiers blowing through fresh powder. What had changed was the emergence of an even deeper appreciation for the outdoors.
We’d anticipated this, since we’d been feeling it ourselves. In response, we added a new category to the contest this year: Outdoors Close to Home. Longtime fans of the contest might remember the Recreation Close to Home category of years past, and this new category hits a similar note but homes in more closely on your new perspective on the places right in your backyard.
Category winner Peter Marotta spent more time exploring his home state of Massachusetts this year and says he was continually in awe of the Commonwealth’s “wonderful diversity of landscapes and natural scenery.” While we’d eagerly leave behind much about the past year, we’re hopeful that we won’t forget about those jewels we discovered, or discovered again, this year: the outdoor spaces up the street and around the corner.
Grand Prize | “Serenity” by Kate Strait [Pictured above]
Higgins Beach, Maine
A surfing photo is among the winners for the second year in a row, this time as the Grand Prize recipient. It’s a first for the prize and well-deserved. Photographer Kate Strait’s image had us simultaneously drawing comparisons to celebrated photographs from a certain geographic society’s monthly magazine and humming the opening bars of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze.
Conservation Award | “A Small Snack” by James Doucett
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, Mass.
This photograph captures more than just the joys of a midday snack. Taken at Sandy Point State Reservation at the southern tip of Plum Island, the image reminds us how important protected coastal spaces are to populations of breeding seabirds.
1st Prize, Outdoor Adventure | “Mephisto’s Waltz” by Sonia Szczesna
Catskill Mountains, N.Y.
Sonia Szczesna captures the intensity of ice climbing with astonishing detail and clarity. Climber Adam Nawrot, brow furrowed and face flushed from the cold, fixes his gaze on the route ahead as the strike of his ice tool emits a spray of rime. Take a close look and you’ll just about feel the chill.
2nd Prize, Outdoor Adventure | “Send it Like Sam” by Kate Seymour
Goshen Mountain, Brandon Gap, Vt.
Snowfall totals may have been on low side in New England this year, but that didn’t stop photographer Kate Seymour from finding her own “powder paradise.” A day of flurries had transformed the forest into a snow globe, and what a sight it is to see this skier rocketing through. After all, what fun is a snow globe if you don’t play in it?
3rd Prize, Outdoor Adventure | “Ice Fisherman by Shawnee Peak” by Garrick Hoffman
Moose Pond across from Shawnee Peak Ski Resort, Bridgton, Maine
Sometimes the best moments of an adventure happen when you think the adventure is over. Garrick Hoffman captured this Maine moment on his way home from a hike in the White Mountains. The glare from the lights along Shawnee Peak’s ski runs illuminates a scene that diverges sharply from the adrenaline infused pastime that plays out on its slopes. In the foreground, it’s a treat to see this ice fisherman’s quiet, patient labors from such a unique perspective.
1st Prize, Lands, Waters, and Wildlife | “Lone Canada Goose in the Morning Mist” by Rob Roy
Little Sebago Lake, Cumberland County, Maine
Rob Roy lives a photographer’s dream. His home is on Little Sebago Lake, so he sees, and photographs, plenty of sunrises, but a little help from a goose on dawn patrol makes this one truly special. The gentle ripples from the bird’s wake add just a touch of drama to a landscape otherwise smothered in fog.
2nd Prize, Lands, Waters, and Wildlife | “Smokey Sakonnet Lighthouse Sunset” by Samuel Marron
Sakonnet Point, Little Compton, R.I.
If it’s cold enough for sea smoke, you’ll usually find most people indoors—but that’s not how Samuel Marron thinks. Arriving at Sakonnet Point with only five minutes until sunset, his reward for braving the frigid temperatures was the sight of a searing sunset dissolving into the icy sea. Caught in the middle is one of New England’s famed, charismatic lighthouses, an anchor amidst an otherwise roiling scene.
3rd Prize, Lands, Waters, and Wildlife | “Blue Summit View from Moosilauke” by Laura Dalrymple
Mount Moosilauke, White Mountain National Forest, N.H.
Peek over the dark shoulder of Mount Moosilauke onto a hushed, undulating landscape. Photographer Laura Dalrymple describes Mount Moosilauke as “an old, trustworthy, dependable friend with a lot of good stories.” She hits on a feeling shared by casual hikers and peak baggers alike: the quiet comfort of feeling grounded above 4,000 feet.
1st Prize, Outdoors Close to Home | “In Wonder of the Rock House” by Peter Marotta
Rock House Reservation, West Brookfield, Mass.
This undulating granite channel is New England’s very own version of the Narrows—the famed red-rock trimmed passageway out in the American West. Photographer Peter Marotta caught his friend Wayne in a moment of awe at this unusual landscape, creating a moment that reminds us of the rich rewards of seeking out new surprises in familiar places.
2nd Prize, Outdoors Close to Home | “The Colors of Dusk” by Corey Butterworth
Hancock Overlook, Kancamagus Highway, N.H.
Sweeping, feathery clouds and the last flickers of sunset provide quite the backdrop for this little tree. To us, it was a reminder of how even the most ordinary outdoor moments became extraordinary this year because we no longer took them for granted.
3rd Prize, Outdoors Close to Home | “Jay Range Sunset” by Patrick Bly
Jay Mountain, Adirondack Mountains, N.Y.
Patrick Bly is yet another photographer living the dream. The trailhead to Jay Mountain is only about a mile from his house, so he can catch a sunset there on a whim. A sprint up the mountain one rainy day revealed a view of the last rays of sunlight tracing the spine of Bly’s local hill.