For Missouri Life’s first-ever photo contest, we teamed up with Mpix and asked our readers to take their best shot. And wow, were we impressed. The tranquil scenes, majestic landscapes, and curious culture captured really showcased the best of the Show-Me State.

And for our judges, an independent panel of photojournalists from MU, selecting the best wasn’t an easy feat. So here they are, plus a few honorable mentions.

1st place Beauty
Missouri Spring Storm

Taken west of Overton at Warm Springs Ranch Alison Lovell followed a growing mass of clouds with her camera as it bloomed in the spring horizon. The storm captured an orange glow that expanded and engulfed one of the clouds over Warm Springs Ranch, home to the Budweiser Clydesdales. Alison took a series of shots, but this one captured the striking contrast of colors in the sky. “The storm moved in, and I got the picture,” she says. “It was a lucky shot. I was following a cold front, and that’s what it developed into.”

Judges awarded this photo top honors because they said it was a unique and captivating image of a frequently photographed Missouri landmark. “It’s like the clouds were on fire,” one of the judges said. “It’s a powerful image.”

2nd place Beauty
Bethel Starlight
Taken in Bethel Cemetery, near De Kalb

Amy grew up near the Bethel Cemetery, a place she and her father maintained. So when she wanted to practice capturing a night shot, she knew exactly where she would take her first one. “It’s a beautiful and peaceful cemetery,” she says. “It’s the positive memories that really make it beautiful to me.”

3rd place Beauty
MARK RAMSEY, Salisbury
Snow Geese
Taken north of Salisbury

Mark Ramsey hunts and photographs waterfowl, but he says none of his pictures are quite like this one. In the spring, snow geese plumage is more brilliant, and they are easier to approach. He crawled for more than fifty yards to the edge of the water and shot continuously to get this image. “I like that they look like a solid mass,” he says.

Honorable mention:
The Water is on Fire
Taken in Fleming Park near Blue Springs

One evening, Debbie Abbott Elias picnicked near Lake Jacomo and watched her sons skip stones. “It was one of the most astonishing sunsets I’ve ever seen,” she says. Taken in 2008, the photograph is still one of her favorites.

1st place Life
The “Princess” & the Koi

Taken in the Japanese Garden area of the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis David DeNagel, an avid photographer, grew up in St. Louis and explored the Missouri Botanical Garden as a child. Consequently,
it became one of his favorite places to photograph. As he stood on the dock in the Shaw Garden, this little girl approached the water’s edge and started talking to the coy. “It’s enchanting,” he says. “She reminded me of a princess in a fairy tale.”

2nd place Life
GREG HURT, St. Joseph
Midnight Harvest

Taken near Cameron during fall harvest season Greg Hurt loves art. He also loves agriculture. So when his father, raised on a farm, and others were called on to help an ailing friend finish the fall harvest, Greg grabbed his camera. He took a series of shots, including this one, that documented the process of harvesting grain. “I like this photo because it’s a new perspective of something you see every day,” he says.

3rd place Life
Christopher Lovell, Lowry City
Introspective Chicken

Taken at the Lovell’s chicken coop in St. Clair County Chris Lovell and his wife converted an old woodshed into a home for their dozen chickens on their forty-acre property. He says he’s not a photographer, but that didn’t stop him from taking this photo. This image made one of our judges say, “It makes you wonder, ‘What is that chicken thinking about?’”

Honorable mention:
Terry Mays, St. Louis
St. Francis Kayaking
Taken at the St. Francis River near Fredericktown

Terry Mays originally photographed the kayak race on the St. Francis in 35mm, but digital photography offered new thrills for the amateur photographer. At this point in the river, there’s a steep decline and turbulent waters, a good place for snagging an action shot. Terry used a 1/2000 second shutter speed to capture the moment.


1st place Fun
RICHARD ORR, St. Charles
Incoming! Zebra!
Taken at Wild Animal Safari near Strafford

For forty years, Richard Orr drove past the Wild Animal Safari park near Strafford, but he would make his first trip inside during a visit from his granddaughter. When Richard drove by this zebra, it tried to get a snack, and he captured this image. Richard says he cherishes this moment because his granddaughter now lives out of state.

2nd place Fun
CHAD RIZNER, Jefferson City
Catching Some Air!
Taken at McKay Park in Jefferson City

If you live in Jefferson City, you know about McKay Park and its popularity with sledders during winter. Chad Rizner ventured out to the area with his son and set up his camera at this precarious angle. “I had to jump to get out of the way,” he says.

3rd place Fun
KIM JAMES, Fredericktown
Just Mom, Me, and My Dog
Taken on a farm near Fredericktown

As the sun set, Kim James crouched in the grass and peered through the lens just as her friend leaned over to speak with her son on the farm they had just purchased. Kim, a mom herself, says this photograph has a symbolic power that might not be apparent at first. “She’s showing the ropes of life to her little boy,” she says. “The photograph is really about teaching your children about life.”

Thank you to our photojournalist judges from the Missouri School of Journalism: Kelly Coleman, Megan Donohue, Rachel English, Alli Inglebright, Julia Robinson, Quint Smith, Jennah Sontag, Sini Stephan, and Uno Yi.

See more of our past contest winners here and here.

Article originally published in theOctober 2013 issue of Missouri Life.