The theme of this year’s contest was “People and Public Lands.” MWA encouraged participants to submit photos highlighting the connection Montanans feel to public lands and waters and showcasing the joy of exploring Montana’s wilderness areas, state parks, national forests, wilderness study areas, and other public lands.
Sullivan’s photo of Morrell Falls was competing against more than 200 other photographers who submitted 650 photos. The other top place finishers were: second place: “Overlooking the Missouri River” by Roland Taylor; third place: “A Moment of Affection” by Ben Wickham; and honorable mention: “Milky Way Over Park Lake” by Chris McGowan.
Prizes for this year’s first- and second-place winners include gear from Montana-based MWA sponsors Mystery Ranch and Obōz Footwear. The third-place winner will receive swag from MWA, including apparel, a “Keep It Wild” water bottle, stickers and more.
Submissions were judged by Luke Duran, art director at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ “Montana Outdoors” magazine. While great composition and skilled technique played a role in his decision, Duran said that the moment captured in Sullivan’s photo is what makes it special.
“In my opinion, one of the quintessential outdoors experiences is the reward of a beautiful waterfall at the end of a hiking trail,” Duran wrote. “This image perfectly captures that feeling of being fully present and engaged in a wild space much larger than yourself.”