Since we started our Virginia State Parks Treasures photo contest last month, I have been awed and frankly "blown away" by the amazing talent and creativity of our visitors.
I viewed the site frequently in my role as contest moderator - I adjusted photos that were sideways or upside down, I blocked duplicate entries, and I had to be the bad guy and delete entries that were from other places not a Virginia State Park. I never failed to be inspired. I am including a couple of photos that struck my fancy today for this article (not by any means all that I enjoyed).
Sunset at Mason Neck by John Lee (taken, well, at Mason Neck State Park)
Making my final check today, I knew that I probably had inspiration for hundreds of articles about our parks just from the photos that were submitted.
First, I was thankful, thankful that we were using a random selection for the winners.
I could never have made a decision as to the best photos entered. There has been such negative press about voting contests on Facebook (are there really people in China paid to vote in contests?) so that random selection was really the only fair way to make the decision. I was also thankful for the enthusiasm of our visitors who wanted to share a glimpse into their family fun or their idea of beauty. But most of all, I was so happy to have all of these photos available for us to use to try and inspire new people to experience a Virginia State Park. Everything I try to find in great photos is represented - children and families enjoying our parks, iconic views of our parks, sunsets, sunrises, campfires, close up views of nature. You name it - you shared pictures of it. Look for your photos in future articles and marketing pieces and you will have bragging rights with friends and family!
Four Generations of Campers! by Jen Carr (taken at Staunton River State Park)
For folks that like numbers, we had 1,545 official entries (after I culled the duplicates and non Virginia State Park entries as much as humanly possible). 1,233 entries came from Facebook, 287 from Instagram and 25 from Twitter.
Loving Life by Anjanette Greenlaw (taken at Shenandoah River State Park)
Here are the lucky winners of the contest. The winners who entered through Facebook should have received emails from me but I am hoping the Instagram entries see this post and contact me so I can connect them with their prize.
7 night cabin stay: Ryan Maddux for "Leave Only Footprints" taken at James River State Park
2 night cabin stay: RJ Bowen for "Sunset on the Eastern Shore" taken at Kiptopeke State Park
Lifetime Pass: Karen Hedge for "Making Survival Bracelets" taken at Hungry Mother State Park
3 nights camping: Melissa Mudd from Instagram taken at Grayson Highlands State Park
Annual Pass: Mary Mougeot for "True Beauty" taken at Grayson Highlands State Park
Finally, I had reserved the right to award extra prizes. I thought about selecting the most stunning photo. Well. I already covered why I can't do that as there are far too many. But I wanted to reward one photographer for what I will call the "Most Prolific Photographer Award." This goes to Instagram user welove2camp who entered 125 photos in the contest. In fact, check out their Instagram page to see a lot of Virginia State Park photos! This prize will also be a Virginia State Parks Naturally Yours Passport annual parking pass.
We will keep the photo gallery of the entries up a while longer and I encourage you to flip through them and "get inspired." You can find them by clicking here.