5th Annual Down East Reader Photo Contest

After five years of running our annual reader photo contest, we can say one thing for sure: Down East readers know how to capture Maine’s magic in every season.

This year, the pleasant task of sorting through more than 1,000 incredible submissions fell to Down East staff photographer Benjamin Williamson and an all-star panel of judges. Maine photographers Peter Ralston, Cait Bourgault, and Séan Alonzo Harris winnowed a batch of semifinalists down to a grand prize winner and two runners-up in each of three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle. Readers weighed in too, with hundreds of thousands of you surfing the submission gallery online and voting for the Readers’ Choice winner.

Thanks to everyone who sent us a photo — we were wowed by the quality of the submissions — and special thanks to Sebago Brewing Co. for sponsoring this year’s contest and choosing a special brewers’ pick. To be the first to know about next year’s contest — or simply to keep seeing more stunning Maine photography — follow Down East on your favorite social platforms and subscribe to our email newsletters.

SPONSORED BY

Sebago Brewing Co.

After five years of running our annual reader photo contest, we can say one thing for sure: Down East readers know how to capture Maine’s magic in every season.

This year, the pleasant task of sorting through more than 1,000 incredible submissions fell to Down East staff photographer Benjamin Williamson and an all-star panel of judges. Maine photographers Peter Ralston, Cait Bourgault, and Séan Alonzo Harris winnowed a batch of semifinalists down to a grand prize winner and two runners-up in each of three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle. Readers weighed in too, with hundreds of thousands of you surfing the submission gallery online and voting for the Readers’ Choice winner.

Sebago Brewing Co.Thanks to everyone who sent us a photo — we were wowed by the quality of the submissions — and special thanks to Sebago Brewing Co. for sponsoring this year’s contest and choosing a special brewers’ pick. To be the first to know about next year’s contest — or simply to keep seeing more stunning Maine photography — follow Down East on your favorite social platforms and subscribe to our email newsletters.

camping on the Androscoggin River

Grand Prize

LIFESTYLE

Ben Ray, Portland
Androscoggin River,
North Turner; iPhone 8

My son, Atticus, and I have been canoeing and camping on the Androscoggin River since he was 3 years old. This photo was taken on an early-October canoe trip. The river was like glass all weekend, and this sunset started firing. I honestly couldn’t have taken a bad photo that evening.

camping on the Androscoggin River

Grand Prize

LIFESTYLE

Ben Ray, Portland
Androscoggin River,
North Turner; iPhone 8

My son, Atticus, and I have been canoeing and camping on the Androscoggin River since he was 3 years old. This photo was taken on an early-October canoe trip. The river was like glass all weekend, and this sunset started firing. I honestly couldn’t have taken a bad photo that evening.

Sokokis Lake, Limerick

2nd Place

LIFESTYLE

Patricia Garrett, Hollis
Sokokis Lake, Limerick; Canon EOS 70D,
70–300mm

On this golden, misty morning in August, my 14-year-old grandson grabbed his pole and slid the canoe into the lake. The lighting, the arc of the pole, and the silhouette — it all seemed to suspend him in time. His high school years would begin in two weeks, and it was like I’d caught a last glimpse of boyhood.

Sokokis Lake, Limerick

2nd Place

LIFESTYLE

Patricia Garrett, Hollis
Sokokis Lake, Limerick; Canon EOS 70D,
70–300mm

On this golden, misty morning in August, my 14-year-old grandson grabbed his pole and slid the canoe into the lake. The lighting, the arc of the pole, and the silhouette — it all seemed to suspend him in time. His high school years would begin in two weeks, and it was like I’d caught a last glimpse of boyhood.

Kirsta Davey, Groton, Massachusetts

3rd Place

LIFESTYLE

Kirsta Davey, Groton, Massachusetts
Walker Pond, Brooksville; Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 70–200mm

This photo of my daughter, Sara, and her dog, Bo, is a favorite because it shows pure joy, love, and canine connection. The pond is a special place where I’ve returned each summer of my life, and I treasure each day that I now share it with my family and numerous dogs.

Kirsta Davey, Groton, Massachusetts

3rd Place

LIFESTYLE

Kirsta Davey, Groton, Massachusetts
Walker Pond, Brooksville; Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 70–200mm

This photo of my daughter, Sara, and her dog, Bo, is a favorite because it shows pure joy, love, and canine connection. The pond is a special place where I’ve returned each summer of my life, and I treasure each day that I now share it with my family and numerous dogs.

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Grand Prize

LANDSCAPE

Jack Sharkey, Topsham
Androscoggin River, Lisbon Falls; Nikon D850, 28–300mm

A friend had posted a picture of this tree, behind the former Worumbo Mill, and in April, I set out to take a picture of the raging waters around it. In 1986, when the dam was being replaced, a local woman named Faye Brown petitioned to save this tree. Locals now know it as the Faye Tree, and once I heard the story. I fell in love with it.

Androscoggin River, Lisbon Falls; Nikon D850, 28–300mm
Androscoggin River, Lisbon Falls; Nikon D850, 28–300mm

Grand Prize

LANDSCAPE

Jack Sharkey, Topsham
Androscoggin River, Lisbon Falls; Nikon D850, 28–300mm

A friend had posted a picture of this tree, behind the former Worumbo Mill, and in April, I set out to take a picture of the raging waters around it. In 1986, when the dam was being replaced, a local woman named Faye Brown petitioned to save this tree. Locals now know it as the Faye Tree, and once I heard the story. I fell in love with it.

2nd Place

LANDSCAPE

Nicole Galante, Milbridge
Back Bay, Milbridge; iPhone X

Fourteen years ago, my partner and I bought an old homestead lot and built our home, overlooking tidal Back Bay and a beautiful creek. We started noticing a pair of Canada geese that would visit every spring, then bring young ones back in the fall. Over the years, as our little farm grew, the families of geese grew too, arriving every spring. This shot was taken while doing my morning farm chores — I carry my phone at all times to capture the random, beautiful moments in our backyard.

Back Bay, Milbridge; iPhone X
Back Bay, Milbridge; iPhone X

2nd Place

LANDSCAPE

Nicole Galante, Milbridge
Back Bay, Milbridge; iPhone X

Fourteen years ago, my partner and I bought an old homestead lot and built our home, overlooking tidal Back Bay and a beautiful creek. We started noticing a pair of Canada geese that would visit every spring, then bring young ones back in the fall. Over the years, as our little farm grew, the families of geese grew too, arriving every spring. This shot was taken while doing my morning farm chores — I carry my phone at all times to capture the random, beautiful moments in our backyard.

3rd Place

LANDSCAPE

Karen Kurkjian, Pownal
Harraseeket River, Freeport; Fujifilm X-E2S, 18–55mm

The estuary of the Harraseeket is one of my favorite places to visit. The landscape changes continuously with the tides and seasons. On this particular morning, a fresh blanket of snow and muted sunrise reflections lent warmth to a lovely winter scene.

Harraseeket River, Freeport; Fujifilm X-E2S, 18–55mm
Harraseeket River, Freeport; Fujifilm X-E2S, 18–55mm

3rd Place

LANDSCAPE

Karen Kurkjian, Pownal
Harraseeket River, Freeport; Fujifilm X-E2S, 18–55mm

The estuary of the Harraseeket is one of my favorite places to visit. The landscape changes continuously with the tides and seasons. On this particular morning, a fresh blanket of snow and muted sunrise reflections lent warmth to a lovely winter scene.

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Livermore; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 400mm

Grand Prize

WILDLIFE

Jim Knox, Wilton
Livermore; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 400mm

I was at my mother-in-law’s, watching cedar waxwings on the mulberry tree out her window, when all of a sudden I saw red. It was a lone scarlet tanager, not about to be intimidated by those waxwings. It got its berries and left, but I guess I was in the right place at the right time.

Livermore; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 400mm

Grand Prize

WILDLIFE

Jim Knox, Wilton
Livermore; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 400mm

I was at my mother-in-law’s, watching cedar waxwings on the mulberry tree out her window, when all of a sudden I saw red. It was a lone scarlet tanager, not about to be intimidated by those waxwings. It got its berries and left, but I guess I was in the right place at the right time.

Kennebec River, Augusta; Nikon D7500, 200–500mm

2nd Place

WILDLIFE

Linwood Riggs, Augusta
Kennebec River, Augusta; Nikon D7500, 200–500mm

Great egrets are relatively uncommon inland, so when one showed up on the banks of the Kennebec River last July, I enthusiastically hurried down to photograph it. Ospreys are dramatic when they dive, and eagles are majestic, but I consider egrets to be Maine’s most graceful and elegant birds.

Kennebec River, Augusta; Nikon D7500, 200–500mm

2nd Place

WILDLIFE

Linwood Riggs, Augusta
Kennebec River, Augusta; Nikon D7500, 200–500mm

Great egrets are relatively uncommon inland, so when one showed up on the banks of the Kennebec River last July, I enthusiastically hurried down to photograph it. Ospreys are dramatic when they dive, and eagles are majestic, but I consider egrets to be Maine’s most graceful and elegant birds.

Old Town; Nikon D500, 200–500mm

3rd Place

WILDLIFE

Laura Oana Zamfirescu, Monroe
Old Town; Nikon D500, 200–500mm

One September morning, I went with my friend to a spot where we watch white-tailed deer. It was the perfect morning — cool, golden light, a little bit of fog. I took a lot of pictures, but this one is my favorite, a moment that didn’t last more than 2 seconds, a sweet fawn and mature buck, face-to-face, greeting each other.

Old Town; Nikon D500, 200–500mm

3rd Place

WILDLIFE

Laura Oana Zamfirescu, Monroe
Old Town; Nikon D500, 200–500mm

One September morning, I went with my friend to a spot where we watch white-tailed deer. It was the perfect morning — cool, golden light, a little bit of fog. I took a lot of pictures, but this one is my favorite, a moment that didn’t last more than 2 seconds, a sweet fawn and mature buck, face-to-face, greeting each other.

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Sebago Brewing Co.Our friends and sponsors at Sebago Brewing Co. love stellar Maine photography as much as anybody. We raise our glass to them and to their special “brewers’ choice” pic from among our semifinalists — the photographer receives a $100 gift card to Sebago’s brewpubs and brewery tasting room in Gorham. Sebago cofounder and vice president Kai Adams says this shot seemed to capture something special. “We love the authenticity and adventurous spirit of this photo,” he said. “It’s how we feel at Sebago Brewing Co., whether we’re brewing a new style of beer or getting out on the water to enjoy Maine in all its natural beauty.”

St. Croix River; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16–35mm

Sebago's Pick

Max Archambault, Burlington, Vermont
St. Croix River; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16–35mm

I took this photograph of Registered Maine Guide Bo Willoughby, owner of North River Guide Service, during my second canoe trip with the outfitter. I nestled myself into the bow to get the shot of Bo poling through some light rips. Truly unforgettable trip — no better way to see the great state of Maine than via the river.

St. Croix River; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16–35mm

Sebago's Pick

Max Archambault, Burlington, Vermont
St. Croix River; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16–35mm

I took this photograph of Registered Maine Guide Bo Willoughby, owner of North River Guide Service, during my second canoe trip with the outfitter. I nestled myself into the bow to get the shot of Bo poling through some light rips. Truly unforgettable trip — no better way to see the great state of Maine than via the river.

Readers' Choice

Eric Leif Johnsen, Greenville Junction
Moosehead Lake, Rockwood; Nikon D3400, 70–300mm

I went out onto the frozen lake to get a winter shot of Mount Kineo. I thought I might walk 2 miles to Pebble Beach, but with the blowing snow and wind chill, I decided against it. When I saw this ice shack beneath Kineo’s 800-foot rock face, those contrasting scales, I knew that was my shot.

Moosehead Lake, Rockwood; Nikon D3400, 70–300mm
Moosehead Lake, Rockwood; Nikon D3400, 70–300mm

Readers' Choice

Eric Leif Johnsen, Greenville Junction
Moosehead Lake, Rockwood; Nikon D3400, 70–300mm

I went out onto the frozen lake to get a winter shot of Mount Kineo. I thought I might walk 2 miles to Pebble Beach, but with the blowing snow and wind chill, I decided against it. When I saw this ice shack beneath Kineo’s 800-foot rock face, those contrasting scales, I knew that was my shot.

More Readers' Choice Picks!

Rockport Harbor

#2

Dominic Cordisco
Rockport Harbor

Puffin

#3

Laurie Pocher
Smiling Puffin, Machias Seal Island

Deer

#4

Heather Annis
Perfect Posing Fawns

Geminid Meteor Shower at Nubble Light

#5

Laurie Pocher
Geminid Meteor Shower at Nubble Light

Killdeer

#6

Robin Ohrt
Killdeer, Unnamed Marsh

Johns River

#7

Rachel McCabe
One Last Jump in Johns River

My Sadie

#8

Phil Mills
“My Sadie,” Marshall Point Light

Crescent Beach in Wells

#9

Donnell Sayward
“After the storm,” Crescent Beach, Wells

Puffin

#10

Tiffany Loggins
Puffin, Machias Seal Island