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Jan 16 2020

Picture Wild Montana Countdown: First Place

"Waterfall Hike Near Seeley Lake" by Bri Sullivan

We've shared the runner-ups and now it's time to announce the grand prize winner of the 2019 Picture Wild Montana Photo Contest

The theme of this year’s contest was “People and Public Lands.” In an effort to highlight the connection that Montanans feel to our public lands and waters, we asked participants to submit photos that featured friends, family, or themselves enjoying everything our public lands have to offer.

Thanks to you, we were inundated with beautiful photos of outdoor enthusiasts exploring our wilderness areas, state parks, national forests, wilderness study areas, and other federal, state, and local public lands. 

After our staff whittled down the photos to the best of the best, we passed the lot to our guest judge Luke Duran, art director at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ “Montana Outdoors” magazine.

Without further ado, we’re pleased to present the first place winner...

First Place: “Waterfall Hike Near Seeley Lake” by Bri Sullivan

Brianna Sullivan photo waterfall hike near Seeley Lake

Bri Sullivan says her favorite part about exploring Montana's wild public lands is being able to escape and enjoy some quality time in nature. 

"Hiking is my happy place," says Sullivan. "I appreciate protected and preserved wild spaces so I, and future generations, can continue to enjoy them."

From Luke Duran, guest judge:
“In my opinion, one of the quintessential outdoors experiences is the reward of a beautiful waterfall at the end of a hiking trail. This image perfectly captures that feeling of being fully present and engaged in a wild space much larger than yourself. That to me is the essence of the theme “people and public lands.” This photo puts me, the viewer, in that special and natural place, gazing up at powerful water flow, warm rays of sunlight on my face, breathing in fresh forest air, and feeling the euphoric and rejuvenating energy from negative ions that waterfalls generate. In technical terms, I really like the composition of this image, with the angle of the trees, the gaze of the hiker, and the flow of the waterfall creating a strong visual triangle. This encourages the viewer’s eye to move about the image, taking in the elements of flora, rock, human, companion, water and light. I like how the sunlight provides illumination across the scene, highlighting the waterfall mist, and spotlighting the rock in the foreground. The sunlight casts a shadow of the hiker and her dog on the rock, creating drama and depth. The image features a beautiful color palette of natural greens, brown and black rock tones, and cool whites of the waterfall. The red accent from the hiker’s backpack gives the viewer a nice “entry point” in to the image. The exposure is cool and moody, capturing the feeling of standing at the base of a great waterfall, with the lush plant elements and sunlight providing a warm light balance. Overall, this photo is about feeling, wonder and experience, capturing the privilege of hiking a Montana trail and sharing a special place created by nature. ”

Looking for a magical waterfall hike near you? Search for waterfall hikes on hikewildmontana.org. With over 300 trails on public lands throughout Montana, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Plan Your Next Adventure

Check out Bri's website and Instagram to see more of her work.


– Keely Damara, communications coordinator

Keely Damara
Communications Coordinator

Keely provides communications support for our chapters, programs, and campaigns and manages our social media channels. In her free time, she enjoys fly fishing on Montana's scenic rivers, hiking, camping, and exploring public lands in her home state.
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