State parks' photo contest gives amateurs a chance to win

Shutterbugs who have captured a good image of someone or something at an Oregon state park have a chance to parlay their prowess into two weeks of free camping and a little extra exposure of their own.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has begun its third annual "Go Click!" photo contest for amateur photographers of all ages.

The contest format is simple — take a digital image of anything happening at or seen from a state park, and submit it to parks officials by Aug. 1.

The finalists will have their images placed on the state parks' Web site, and the public will vote on the grand-prize winner, as well as two runners-up, says contest coordinator Jennifer McCormick.

In the past, a panel of judges struggled with picking winners, so turning to the public was a natural step, McCormick says.

"I think this gives people a chance to connect to the contest at a bigger level," McCormick says. "It'll be fun and it will make people more vested in their state parks, and that's what we want."

The photographer who gets the most votes will receive a 14-day state park camping package. The top two runners-up will get free 24-month passes to state parks and day-use fee areas like TouVelle State Park.

The best shots will be displayed at the Oregon State Fair later this summer. Parks officials also expect to post several entries on the agency Web site, McCormick says.

The contest drew more than 3,000 entries each of the first two years, McCormick says.

"We're building an impressive photo album," she said. "I think it makes people really happy to say, 'Here's what I did at your park this year and isn't this cool?' "

That's what happened in 2007, when Pat Davidson of Coos Bay won the inaugural contest with a silhouetted image of her husband and grandson walking on Sunset Beach at Sunset. The state park is along Cape Arago outside of Coos Bay.

"It was one of those incredible days on the Oregon Coast," Davidson says. "We were just playing around."

The following year, Davidson heard of the state parks' photo contest and decided to enter.

"I thought that it was my favorite photo, so I submitted it," Davidson says. "It was pretty amazing to win it."

The image has gained popularity, Davidson says. Prints and postcards of it now sell at the nearby Shore Acres State Park, she says.

Both first-place photos in the contest, thus far, have featured scenes on the south Oregon Coast.

Alan Hirschmugl of Gresham shot last year's grand-prize winner along the shoreline at Cape Blanco State Park in northern Curry County.

McCormick says professional photographers need not apply.

"We wanted everyday (parks) users to enter the contest and feel like they have a chance," she says.

Finalists should be posted on the GoClick! Web site during the first week of August, and the public will have about two weeks to vote, McCormick says. The state fair, in Salem, runs Aug. 28 through Sept. 7.

All photo entries must be digital and uploaded to the OPRD Web site. The contest rules are online and photos should be uploaded at

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail

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