8th Annual Down East Reader Photo Contest Winners

This year’s contest saw nearly 1,200 ​submissions in three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle.

Down East readers understand better than anyone the essence of Maine — something our annual photo contest proves to us again and again. Readers submitted nearly 1,200 images this year in three categories: landscape, wildlife, and lifestyle. The demanding task of paring these down to some 60 finalists and, eventually, a winner and a runner-up in each category fell to the Down East photo staff and a panel of three talented guest judges: Down East contributors and veteran Maine photographers Danielle Sykes, Benjamin Williamson, and Peter Ralston.

Then, thousands of Down East fans voted online to pick their favorite images, and this year’s contest includes a Readers’ Choice winner in each category.

Our sincere thanks to everyone who shared their work with us. And a special thanks to ProMaster, a New England company dedicated to creating photography gear for everyone.

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Echo Lake, Acadia National Park
Echo Lake, Acadia National Park
Grand Prize Landscape
Matt Wade | Bar Harbor, Maine

Taken at Echo Lake, Acadia National Park
Canon EOS R6, 24–105mm

I pulled over to admire the fog coming over the pines and noticed this lightning bolt along the thawing black ice. Then, I began to notice these subtle reflections among all the different textures and patterns surrounding it. Fascination with weather has always inspired me to pick up my camera and venture out, and the changing of the seasons is why I fell in love with Maine.

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge
Runner Up Landscape
Amelia Singer | Stockton Springs, Maine

Taken at the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, between Prospect and Verona Island
DJI Mini 2

I got out at sunrise to get some footage of the bridge during foliage season. The fog rolling around in the valley was a beautiful surprise. It was changing so quickly, along with the sun, so I had to work fast to snap a few pictures with my drone. It wasn’t really the foliage photo I was aiming for, but it ended up being my favorite shot.

Lookout Point, Harpswell
Readers’ Choice Landscape
Kathleen Mathieu | Auburn, Maine

Taken at Lookout Point, in Harpswell
iPhone 12 Pro Max

This is one of my favorite locations to witness a beautiful Maine sunset. On this evening, I noticed the wispy clouds overhead lighting up and changing color, and I knew I wanted the puddle of seawater for a reflection. It was low tide, so I walked down into the mud and backed up against an old rock wall to get the shot I envisioned.

A porcupine and its porcupette
A porcupine and its porcupette
Grand Prize Wildlife
Laura Zamfirescu | Monroe, Maine

Taken in Monroe
Nikon Z7, 500mm

It’s not every day you get to see a very young baby porcupine (called a porcupette). I was fortunate to come upon one, with its mom, on a trail behind my house last summer. By the soft quills, I guess it wasn’t older than two or three weeks. I kept my distance, so as not to disturb them, and watched them interact for more than 20 minutes. Sweetest thing I’ve seen this year.

A razorbill with a mouthful of fish
Runner Up Wildlife
Robin Ohrt | Rockport, Maine

Taken on Machias Seal Island
Canon EOS R5, 100–400mm

Last June, I went to Machias Seal Island, 12 miles off Cutler, which is a Disneyland for photographers, birders, and lovers of puffins. Thanks to a dear friend, I was able to capture this razorbill bringing a mouthful of fish back to its burrow for its young.

A female fox and her kits
A female fox and her kits
Readers’ Choice Wildlife
Chelsea Harnum | Sanford, Maine

Taken on Wells Beach
Canon EOS 90D, 150–600mm

I was taking a walk along the beach when I noticed this fox among the dunes. I kept my distance and photographed her for a half hour before her kits playfully entered the scene. Just before they disappeared into the dense brush, I captured this sweet moment between a vixen and her kit. I love the way the late-day sun glows around them.

a child running in a field
a child running in a field
Grand Prize Lifestyle
Jordan Gunn | Dahlonega, Georgia

Taken on Deer Isle
Olympus OM-1, 35mm

It was the perfect morning for a family walk, and I grabbed my late-grandfather’s film camera, hoping to shoot in the beautiful encompassing fog. When we rounded the corner to the top of the blueberry field, my son just darted towards the coast. It was his first time on Deer Isle, a place that’s a part of my family heritage. I snapped this photo wanting to capture the coastline and to remember the generations of love for this place.

A horse-drawn sleigh on a snowy day
A horse-drawn sleigh on a snowy day
Runner Up Lifestyle
Anastasia Paradis | New Canada, Maine

Taken in Fort Kent
Canon 5D Mark II, 24–70mm

I own and work with horses as a hobby and love taking photos of them. So, when a friend invited me over to learn to drive a sleigh, I jumped at the chance and, of course, packed my camera. Little did I know the snow would be falling just right and the sun perfectly low through the trees. The whole day was straight out of a winter painting.

A lobsterman receiving bait in Stonington
Readers’ Choice Lifestyle
Don Powers | Orono, Maine

Taken in Stonington
Canon 5D Mark II, 70–200mm

I just love the feel of a working harbor and arriving in Stonington early enough to see and hear the day begin for so many. As I stood watching the lobstermen receive the bait lowered down to them, I happened to be in the perfect position to get this shot. We all start our days differently, and some are just a little more difficult than others.

A stormy Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth
Sponsor’s Choice
Luke Madden | Portland, Maine

Taken at Kettle Cove, in Cape Elizabeth
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 70–300mm

After heading out to shoot a lackluster sunrise, especially frustrating in frigid winter temps, I checked out Kettle Cove on the way home. It was a windy morning, and I’d never seen the water so choppy. The few fishing boats tied up year-round were bobbing in and out of sight as the waves rolled in, and I aimed to capture that movement in this still image.

This photo was selected for special recognition by our contest sponsors at ProMaster, which has been filling the needs of passionate photographers for more than 60 years, selling products exclusively through independently owned stores. “This image perfectly showcases the intensity of the ocean while providing depth to the story of Maine’s heritage,” the ProMaster team writes. “The color, composition, and meaning behind this photo make it an exceptional capture. In essence, this image represents what photography is all about, capturing a moment in time that tells a story and drives an emotion.”

Follow @promasterphoto on Instagram to see more outstanding images shot using ProMaster gear.