Being outdoors engages all five senses, so capturing these moments with a still image is a special kind of challenge. AMC celebrates the photographers in our community who do just that with our annual photo contest.
Each category in the contest speaks to something we love about the outdoors. Land, Waters, and Wildlife for images of the environments we love and strive to protect. Outdoor Adventure for shots of outdoor recreation in action. Outdoors Close to Home for the photos that remind us that it doesn’t take an expensive trip to a remote location to enjoy the natural world.
Wherever these photographers were, their images brought us along for the ride. From an icy river on a winter’s day to a beach during a hurricane. From New England’s highest peak to a small park outside a city. Each tells a story about a special place, whether animals on the prowl or humans taking solace in nature.
So come see the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic through a new lens. The AMC Photo Contest 2023 winners have arrived.
Grand Prize | “December Paddling” by Will Adamczak
Location: Schroon River, Chester, New York
Why We Loved It: In a year of incredible submissions, this one stood out. In the photo’s spare composition, we saw a lot: A lone individual taking on the elements, the beauty of ice forming. The contrast of white snow on dark waters, and the contrast of a bright coat with the natural surroundings. Through Adamczak’s lens, a winter paddle on a river in upstate New York becomes an epic adventure.
Conservation Award | “Second Roach Pond” by Peter Shaw
Location: Second Roach Pond, Medawisla Lodge and Cabins, Maine Woods, Maine
Why We Loved It: Seeing a truly dark night sky is as simple as a trip to AMC’s Maine Woods International Dark Sky Park. Capturing it with a camera is a whole lot harder. Photographer Peter Shaw had long been fascinated by night sky photography, taking shots across New England. After a Dark Sky event at AMC Medawisla Lodge and Cabins, Shaw and astronomer John Meader set up their cameras on the banks of Second Roach Pond. The result transports us right to their side.
1st Prize, Outdoor Adventure | “Summit in the Valley” by Mike Censullo
Location: Franconia Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Why We Loved It: This photo is an encapsulation of everything we love about our outdoor community. On a fall hike, Mike Censullo photographed two climbers summiting The Eaglet, along Franconia Ridge in the White Mountains. Censullo was ultimately able to share his work with his subjects, and a new friendship was born. The photo that brought them together is a stunning representation of both the climbers’ feat and their smallness against the backdrop of the mountains.
2nd Prize, Outdoor Adventure | “The Surfer of Hurricane Lee” by Garrick Hoffman
Location: Higgins Beach, Scarborough, Maine
Why We Loved It: It’s no secret we love a good surfing shot. On the morning of Hurricane Lee, photographer Garrick Hoffman hit the beach with some friends to watch the waves. He also saw surfers taking advantage of big winds and rolling waters. The resulting photo shows that interplay between ocean and sky. Don’t try this at home!
3rd Prize, Outdoor Adventure | “White Out on White Cap” by Eric Ward
Location: White Cap Mountain, Maine Woods, Maine
Why We Loved It: At first glance, it’s hard to tell if this photo was taken in black and white or color. What could have been austere instead feels joyful. You can feel the crispness of the cold air, and the excitement that surrounds the best winter outings.
Lands, Waters, and Wildlife
1st Prize, Lands, Waters, and Wildlife | “Fireworks under Lakes of the Clouds” by James Carlson
Location: AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
Why We Loved It: Our judges enjoyed the contrast between the serenity of the White Mountains’ highest peak with a raucous Memorial Day celebration down in the valley. We’ve seen many wonderful photographs of AMC’s most popular high mountain hut. None are quite like this.
2nd Prize, Lands, Waters, and Wildlife | “Egrets Take Off” by Biruk Abate
Location: Wellfleet Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Why We Loved It: It may be a still image, but it looks like a timelapse! If Abate had photographed one of these egrets taking off, we would have been impressed. Getting all four in a moment of symmetry with each other is masterful.
3rd Prize, Lands, Waters, and Wildlife | “Lone Juvenile Barred Owl” Ryan Burg
Location: Wilson Reservation, Dedham, Massachusetts
Why We Loved It: You feel that? It’s the big eyes of this owl staring into your soul. Burg’s dusky shot is even more impressive considering the barred owl is generally nocturnal.
“A short hike in Wilson Reservation led to this special encounter with a juvenile barred owl,” wrote photographer Ryan Burg.
Outdoors Close to Home
1st Prize, Lands, Outdoors Close to Home | “The Pounce” by James Doucett
Location: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newbury, Massachusetts
Why We Loved It: Coyotes hunt by staying low to the ground, waiting patiently for the right opportunity to catch their prey. James Doucett clearly kept his wits about him to photograph this species in action. It’s a stunning mix of action and intimacy – bringing us up close to the coyote at the moment it makes the leap. We wouldn’t want to be whatever was just outside the frame!
2nd Prize, Lands, Outdoors Close to Home | “Truro Dunes Hike” by Brett Willey
Location: Cape Cod National Seashore, Truro, Massachusetts
Why We Loved It: This composition is all about the little things. The texture of the sand. The way the subject’s blue clothing matches the sky. The complexity of the rolling dunes against a perfectly clear sky. Chef’s kiss. No notes.
3rd Prize, Lands, Outdoors Close to Home | “Blue Bird of Happiness” by Judy Haran
Location: North Point State Park, Baltimore County, Maryland
Why We Loved It: One of our judges pointed out that there were only three colors in this shot. Each complements the other and combines for a photograph that’s fun and bright. The blue bunting. The yellow sunflower that looks like a sun. The green backdrop. Taken in North Point State Park, just outside of Baltimore, it’s also a reminder of the importance of urban and suburban green spaces for our communities and the planet.
“This field of sunflowers was planted in July 2023 to preserve the surrounding grassy areas, and it attracted some rare indigo blue buntings,” wrote photographer Judy Haran.
1st Prize, People’s Choice | “Accord and Satisfaction” by Mike Weinhold
Location: Chelmsford, Massachusetts
Why You Loved It: Many of our finalists captured their greatest, most remote adventures. People’s Choice winner Mike Weinhold found natural beauty right in his driveway.
“I was in the process of packing and grabbing something out of my wife’s car when I noticed the ice patterns along the metal surface of her Honda Accord. They were like tiny intricate feathers or a paisley patterned tie. I ran inside, grabbed my camera and macro lens, and dashed out to make photographs for a few minutes before the sun popped out from over our neighbor’s roof and the patterns evaporated,” wrote Weinhold.