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Home Wild Life 2020 Picture Wild Montana Countdown: First Place
Jan 30 2021

2020 Picture Wild Montana Countdown: First Place

"Quiet Contemplation at Holland Lake" by Kevin League of Helena


After pouring over 600 quality photos, we’ve selected the winners of our annual Picture Wild Montana Photo Contest.

This year’s contest theme was “The Joy of the Wild.” We encouraged participants to submit photos highlighting their connection to our public lands, waters, and wildlife while also showcasing the joy of exploring Montana’s wilderness areas, state parks, national forests, wilderness study areas, and other public lands.  

Luke Duran, art director at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ “Montana Outdoors” magazine, picked the winners, and he had such a hard time choosing a top three that he chose a top five. 

We’re excited to announce the 2020 Picture Wild Montana Photo Contest first-place winner.

First Place: “Quiet Contemplation at Holland Lake” by Kevin League of Helena

Woman wades into lake surrounded by tall cliffs

"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." – Henry David Thoreau  (photo by Kevin League)

From Kevin League on his winning photo:

"To capture this year's theme of 'The Joy of the Wild' I wanted a human element to the photograph.  I chose the late light of a summer evening and a peaceful mountain lake scene (Holland Lake). I had my wife in a pretty dress wade into the water.  I like the playfulness of the photo, and the serenity and inviting feeling I get from viewing it. I chose to include the rocks in the foreground to create a sense of depth between my wife and the mountains, and if you look very closely, you’ll notice the waterfall and the two paddlers in a canoe in the background. To achieve this, I shot at a high f-stop to achieve a sharp photo through the scene. For me, the image is reminiscent of a summer in Montana, certainly a joyful time to be in the wild."

"Montana, would not be the Last Best Place without our protected public wildlands," said League when asked why he feels it's important to protect our public lands. "It is where we go to enjoy the outdoors which is essential to our mental health and our well-being. It is important because if we do not take care of the land that cares for us, we will not survive. In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt said, 'The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.' I think that sums it up pretty well."

Follow Kevin on Instagramcheck out his website, or visit his new gallery in downtown Helena to see more of his beautiful landscape photography.

From Luke Duran, guest judge:

"This is a technically masterful photo, with gorgeous composition, a compelling visual story, and lots of elements to gaze upon. To me, the first, and strongest part of this composition is the visual symmetry that the limestone cliffs cast in reflection upon the water surface. The steep canyon walls and reflection create a visual “X” that guides the viewer's eye deep into the image, eventually arriving at the hint of a waterfall far in the background. The photographer places a subject into the foreground to interrupt the symmetry with a pop of a bright red dress and an intriguing sun hat, both of which add visual interest and accent to the natural color palette. There is a curious arrangement of rocks in the immediate foreground reminiscent of a Japanese garden, with water rings emanating from the subject to add to the zen-like tone. Both elements serve as visual starting points to enter into the scene. The images answers the call of the theme with a sort of quiet, contemplative joy, almost like a meditation in a natural, serene space. I love the fact that the photographer has constructed an incredible scene that celebrates the beauty and awe of Montana’s wild space, and includes a number of standout visual elements to craft a deeper story. This is an outstanding photo."

Thanks to everyone who submitted a photo this year. We’re always thoroughly impressed by the quality and variety, and we love to see all the ways you love and enjoy Montana’s wild places.


Keely Damara
Communications Manager

Keely manages our website, wildmontana.org, and social media channels in addition to providing communications support for our chapters, programs, and campaigns. In her free time, she enjoys fly fishing on Montana’s scenic rivers, hiking, camping, and exploring public lands in her home state.
Email Keely