7th Annual Down East Reader Photo Contest Winners

This year’s contest saw nearly 1,000 ​submissions in three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle.

Selection of Down East Reader Photo Contest winners

Each year, as submissions pour in for our annual photo contest, we are delighted and impressed to see how expertly Down East readers capture what Maine is all about. Nearly 1,000 of you submitted photos this year in three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle. Narrowing those images down to a pool of finalists and, ultimately, a winner and two runners-up in each category was the task of Down East staff photographer Benjamin Williamson and a panel of three outstanding judges, Alberto Lopez, Sarah Rice, and S.B. Walker, all of whom have made scores of memorable images photographing the Pine Tree State.

Readers had their say too, voting in an online submission gallery to select this year’s Readers’ Choice winner. (Find a gallery of readers’ top-10 picks below!)

Thanks to everyone who shared their work with us. And a special thanks to the Natural Resources Council of Maine for sponsoring the contest and selecting the winner of this year’s special Maine Outdoors Prize.

To get more stunning Maine photography delivered to your inbox every Monday — and to be the first to know about next year’s contest — subscribe free to our weekly Down East Snapshot newsletter.

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Grand Prize Wildlife

Darcy Baird | Winthrop, Maine
Taken in Winthrop
Nikon D850, 200–500mm

Each spring, a pair of red foxes takes shelter under a shed behind my friend’s home, to give birth to their kits and raise them. Last April, the mother returned alone and gave birth to four adorable kits. I was blessed to capture this special moment from my ground blind, expressing the natural beauty, simple patience, and quiet curiosity of Maine’s nature and wildlife.

2nd Place Wildlife

​​Kerry A. Daly | Scarborough, Maine
Taken at Scarborough Marsh
Nikon D850, 500mm

I happened to be at the right place at the right time to see this snowy egret showing off his breeding plumage. He was wading in shallow water with a small flock when all of a sudden he began dancing around, squawking, and inflating his elegant and exotic plumes in hopes of attracting a mate. A rare sight I will not soon forget!

3rd Place Wildlife

John Owen | New Canaan, Connecticut
Taken in York
Nikon D500, 150–600mm

Among my favorite wildlife photos are those that capture a bit of interaction between individuals, so I was pleased to happen upon some fledgling barn swallows waiting for their parents to fly by and feed them. I got down to their level, and as the parents approached, the fledglings flapped their wings and opened their mouths — my cue to start shooting.

Grand Prize Lifestyle

Susan Rosenberg Jones | New York, New York
Taken aboard the Casco Bay Lines ferry
Leica Q, 28mm

We like to visit Maine every summer. This past July, I wanted to celebrate my 70th birthday there with my family. We all took the Casco Bay ferry on an overcast day, and I observed my daughter leaning against the rail, enjoying the breeze, looking pensive. I thought the photo expressed the feeling of being on the water in Maine, enjoying the simple pleasures of a breezy boat ride.

2nd Place Lifestyle

Jon Campbell | Hermon, Maine
Taken on Katahdin, in Baxter State Park
Nikon D750, 300mm

Each year, I have the pleasure of helping the Baxter State Park rangers resupply the remote cabins and campsites during the winter months. While on one of these missions, I took a few minutes to capture a hiker and his guide on their way to cross Katahdin’s Knife Edge. While many hikers cross this spot during the summer months, very few end up crossing during the winter.

3rd Place Lifestyle

Rebekah Hodgson | Thomaston, Maine
Taken at Deep Hole Point, in Jonesboro
Samsung Galaxy S20

This was the last tide I harvested clams alongside my father before he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. This photo is both beautiful and painful for me, knowing I took many years working beside my father for granted. It captures a lifetime of hard work, harvesting clams and lobstering. Now in remission, my father is a true down east man who works on the water — a beat-up truck, a skiff, flannel, the ocean.

Grand Prize Landscape

Luke Madden | Portland, Maine
Taken at Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth
Canon EOS 5D III, 24–70mm

Leaving the airport after Hurricane Henri delayed my flight, I stopped at Portland Head Light to see what the surf was doing. Once I was on the beach, I knew I wanted a shot where the water was the focus instead of the much-photographed lighthouse — a perspective that celebrates the natural elements of the coastline more than the manufactured ones.

2nd Place Landscape

Karen Kurkjian | Pownal, Maine
Taken at Sandy Point Beach, Cousins Island
Fujifilm X-E2S, 70–300mm

Sandy Point Beach, on Yarmouth’s Cousins Island, is always a special place at daybreak. On this particular balmy August morning, I found this great blue heron surveying his tranquil domain, and I tried to capture the warmth and serenity of the moment.

3rd Place Landscape

Mark Teitelbaum | West Hartford, Connecticut
Taken on Monhegan Island
Canon EOS 5D IV, 28–300mm

I took this at dawn on Monhegan, while I was there participating in a Down East photo workshop last summer. The color of the sky is amazing. My wife and I fell in love with the island and its feel, and I think this view represents everything that’s special about the place.

Maine Outdoors Prize

Our contest sponsors at the Natural Resources Council of Maine chose one photo from among our finalists as winner of this year’s Maine Outdoors Prize. The winner gets a yearlong NRCM membership and a $100 gift certificate to the Maine gear shop of their choice. “We selected this for several reasons,” CEO Lisa Pohlmann says. “First, who doesn’t love cute animals? Also, the photo is a wonderful visual representation of NRCM’s work. We protect Maine’s environment just as this mama fox cares for her kit. Our work, together with our members, helps ensure clean and vibrant land, air, and water for wildlife and for people — those of us fortunate to call Maine home, as well as those who visit.” NRCM thanks all who support its work and invites Down East’s photo enthusiasts to check out the group’s weekly My Maine This Week photo.

Chris L’Abbé | Topsham, Maine
Taken in Bowdoin
Canon EOS 7D II, 150–600mm

To get this shot, I waited in an abandoned car for the mom to return to her den and the kits to run out and greet her. I hung a blanket in the open window of the car and hid below the seat, poking my lens through the blanket to capture this precious moment without disturbing the foxes. You can feel the love between the mom and her kits.

Readers’ Choice

Allie Wityak | Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Seal Island
Sony Alpha 7C, 150–600mm

Nesting-seabird season brings thousands of puffins to Machias Seal Island between June and August. We set up in blinds, surrounded by birds so close you could reach out and touch them. This image reminded me of taking a leap of faith — which is what I did when I moved to Maine, and this is just one of the many great experiences I’ve had since.

These 10 photographers, some of whom submitted multiple images, received the most votes from readers. Click an image to view full size.