Ten years ago for the October 2013 issue, Missouri Life had a panel of photographers look through thousands of pictures from our archives. Take a journey through our past and through the state as we remember and showcase ten of the forty best images that have ever graced our pages.

Our Best Photos

A PANEL of Missouri Life photographers scoured hundreds of issues and thousands of pictures in our archives to find the most stunning photos that have ever appeared in the magazine. We found quirky people, amazing scenery, majestic wildlife, rustic locations, stunning architecture, and other striking remnants of Missouri past and present. 

NOTLEY HAWKINS (Featured image)
December 2010

Lights abound throughout Missouri during the holidays, but few places put on particularly stunning visual displays of color and movement. Stuck in Kansas City traffic, Notley Hawkins saw these fireworks from his car and knew he had to get a shot. He grabbed his gear, left his car idling, and ran down a hill to capture this fireworks scene on Thanksgiving night at the Country Club Plaza. “I looked back at my car, still stuck in traffic, the trunk open, and the lights on,” he says. “It seemed like the whole town was at a standstill for that moment.”

June 2010

Marshall Meadows captured this cover photo of Doug Scholfield, a performer in Brulé. The group, led by Lakota bandleader Paul LaRoche, spoke to us when their American Indian rock opera played a season in Branson. Accompanying the images, the story shed light on Paul’s life: “Overwhelmed by the experience of growing up in mainstream white culture and then discovering his Native American heritage, Paul turned his powerful feelings to the humanitarian cause of reconciling both cultures through music.”

December 2003

Missouri Life’s Creative Director Andrew Barton (in 2013) created this photo illustration for Skot Hess’s story that detailed the people, scenes, and other threads that weave together to form the historic tapestry of St. Louis’s Soulard Market. Using a pop-and-drag flash technique, the photograph was shot on medium format transparency film and captured with a tripod on a cloudless night. The entire exposure took more than a minute to burn into the film and required the subject to stand completely still to reduce edge blurring.

February 2007

A professional wildlife photographer and avid birder, Brian Gosewisch photographed and studied the great horned owl in Missouri. This photo appeared on the cover of the issue. At the beginning of his story and photo essay about owls’ behavior, he wrote: “I jump at every chance to encounter one of these magnificent birds, and every spring, you will probably find me up a tree or in a blind studying and photographing the owls. Living in Missouri, we are blessed with a healthy population of great horneds.”

December 1973

T. Mike Fletcher captured several candid photos of St. Louis radio sportscasters for our 1973 feature “Voices of St. Louis.” The piece detailed the personalities behind the microphone. He took this photograph of the silver- haired John Francis Buck who called Cardinals’ games from the KMOX booth at Old Busch Stadium.

November 1974

Zehrt captured the allure of a Missouri winter in a photo essay, and this particular image captures the serene wilderness at night. The photographer used a long exposure and other techniques to make the photo mimic daytime. We wrote this about the beauty of our fickle winter months during night and day: “The sky is a brilliant blue, the slanting sun glistens on snow-bound fields and ice-smooth ponds, and the bare trees wear many-shaped mantles of soft white.”

January 1979

Lewis Portnoy was one of the nation’s premier sports photographers in 1979. Missouri Life showcased some of his best work, but this one, titled “Crash Landing,” was a standout. What’s impressive about this shot is Portnoy’s timing: unlike modern digital equipment, still cameras of that era couldn’t capture multiple images in quick succession. He used a 600 mm lens at f/5.6 and 1/500 second.

May 1978

Eric Taylor, an MU student in 1975, scoured the Missouri wilderness for red-tailed hawks for an ornithology assignment. He wrote that photographing these baby birds was difficult because he had the daunting task of finding the birds and waiting for the nest to be built. As he scaled the forty-five-foot oak, their mother shrieked “Kit-chee,” but John ventured closer for a few quick shots. The hawks are three weeks old in this photo and would leave the nest after week five.

October 2007

The Meramec River flows through Andrea Watkins’s childhood memories. For this shot, she revisited the area known as Cain’s Bottom and steadied herself on a boat and took more than fifty photos. She stitched them together to form this panoramic view.

August 2010

French photographer Célia Pernot became fascinated with Clark County’s Amish culture while working on another assignment in Missouri. It took some time before the Amish accepted her. They invited her to a harvest in the fields where she captured this photo.

We thank our photographer judges Casey Buckman, George Denniston, Notley Hawkins, and Anastasia Pottinger for their time and expertise. Notley Hawkins recused himself from judging his own photo.

See our 2021 Photo Contest Winners here.

Article originally published in the October 2013 issue of Missouri Life.