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Friends of the Columbia Gorge Launches "Our Gorge Connections" Photo Contest

Friends of the Columbia Gorge Launches "Our Gorge Connections" Photo Contest
Detail from "Fishing Platform and Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks" by Dan Hawk, Human Works category winner, Friends' sixth annual photo contest.
December 6, 2021
Categorie(s): Latest News


Stan Hall, digital content specialist, Friends of the Columbia Gorge | 971.634.2035 (Office) | 503.307.3228 (Cell) | (email)

Burt Edwards, communications director, Friends of the Columbia Gorge | 971.634.0595 (Office) | 703.861.8237 (Cell) | (email)

PORTLAND, OR – Friends of the Columbia Gorge—a Portland-based conservation organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and stewarding the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area—is now accepting submissions for its seventh annual photo contest, centered on the theme of, "Our Gorge Connections." This year's contest sponsor is Pro Photo Supply of Portland, which has sponsored the contest since 2017.

Over the past seven years, Friends' photo contest has received over 2,000 entries and gives photography enthusiasts, professional and amateur alike, the chance to capture the sense of awe and wonder that the Columbia Gorge instills in both its residents and the millions of people who visit the Gorge a year. The contest also provides an opportunity for Friends to partner with the Pacific NW photography community and help illustrate the need to protect and ensure that the wonders of the Gorge are preserved for future generations.

The theme of this year's contest, "Our Gorge Connections," acknowledges the multitude of ways those who love the Columbia Gorge feel connected to its unique natural environment and distinct communities contained within. Added together, these connections result in a widely shared desire to see the Gorge protected as a vibrant place to visit and live, both now and for future generations to come.

"When I first moved to the Gorge, I was just blown away by its beauty and couldn’t help but take as many photos as I could," said Paloma Ayala, a Hood River-based photographer and graphic designer who will be serving as a volunteer contest judge for the third year in a row. "Serving as a contest judge gives me the privilege to see the different ways people use their cameras to express how they connect to the Gorge."  

This year Friends will honor winning photos in seven categories—Community & Culture, Scenic Eastern Gorge, Scenic Western Gorge, Waterfalls, Wildflowers, Wildlife, and Youth Photographer (age 18 and under)—in addition to the grand prize winner. The grand prize winner will be chosen from all of the submissions and can come from any category.

"In the Columbia Gorge, a snapshot is more than just a photo opportunity," said Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman. "It’s the result of an inspiring connection between the photographer and a special sight they don’t want to forget. The wonderful contest photos we have the privilege of viewing each year remind us of why we work to protect the Gorge."

View winners, honorable mentions, and finalists from Friends' Sixth Annual Photo Contest:

(Editor's Note: Copies of previous winning photos are available for use by members of the press upon request. For more information please contact Stan Hall at

The contest opened for entries on Dec. 1, 2021. The deadline to submit is Feb. 6, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific). All photos must be owned by photographer and taken within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

For the complete list of contest rules, photo requirements, or to submit photos, visit

December 9 Photography Webinar: The public is invited to join a live panel discussion with photographers, hosted by Friends, on how photography can connect and inspire a community. The panel includes photographers Ken Pitts (Gorge Refuge Stewards), Nic Raingsey (Climbers of ColorPDX Climbers of Color) and Linda Steider (Steider Studios, Made in the Gorge). The discussion will be followed by a moderated Q&A. The webinar is free; register at

Additional "Our Connections" Photo Contest Information

Photo Contest Categories

  • Community and Culture: The Columbia Gorge is more than just natural landscapes. Since time immemorial, the Gorge has been a mixing bowl of a diverse array of people, cultures, traditions, backgrounds, and beliefs. This is still true today. Whether you live in the National Scenic Area or are a visitor, we welcome your photos taken of and in Gorge communities; of people, places, constructions (roads, bridges etc.), art both ancient and new; and examples of the sustainable built environment.
  • Scenic Eastern Gorge and Scenic Western Gorge (separate categories): The scenic categories include vistas and, waterfalls excepted (see below), anything else that constitutes a view of a natural Gorge landscape. Examples of Scenic category shots include the iconic view from the Portland Women's Forum State Viewpoint, or a photo of monolithic Coyote Wall.
  • Waterfalls: For the first time since the Eagle Creek fire, Friends is bringing back the standalone waterfall photo category, as a celebration of all the tireless work by agencies and volunteer organizations to restore trails and trail infrastructure. After years of closures, in 2021 almost all Gorge waterfalls were accessible for part or all of the year and we look forward to seeing your best Gorge waterfall shots.
  • Wildflowers: It's not just balsamroot and lupine: some 800-plus types of wildflowers bloom in the Gorge, more than a dozen of which grow nowhere else on the planet. Have you been giving the macro setting on your camera a workout this year? Let's see what you've got!
  • Wildlife: From birds and waterfowl, to migrating salmon and basking turtles, to elusive bears and pika, even bees and bats, the Gorge is home to an abundance of wildlife. Every year our judges are wowed and charmed by the creative, often stunning, sometimes endearing, entries depicting Gorge wildlife in their element.
  • Youth Photographer: Gorge protection is a legacy we impart to future generations to carry on. For many youth who live inside and outside the Gorge, exploring and photographing this wondrous landscape is a formative creative outlet. This category includes photos of any subject submitted by photographers 18 years old and under (please note age on photo submission form). Grownups, including teachers, are encouraged to let students know about the contest.
  • Special Prize (non-category) – Camera Phone PhotoPhotos taken with a camera that can also be used as a mobile device, will be entered for this special prize in addition to whichever category the photo best fits. The winning photographer will receive a special prize, to be announced. (Note on eligibility for this prize: Friends' image hosting service supplies individual photos' metadata, including the device's operating system, which will be checked to verify eligibility.)


The winning photographs will be announced on or around June 1, 2022.

  • Grand Prize: $250, plus large print of winning photo and prize from Pro Photo Supply (prize to be announced).
  • Category winner prize: Each of the seven category winners will receive a large print of their photo plus a prize from Pro Photo Supply (to be announced).
  • Honorable mention: Each honorable mention will receive a large print of their photo.

Contest Rules & Entry Guidelines

  • The contest opened for entries on Dec. 1, 2021. The deadline to submit is Feb. 6, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific).
  • Photos must be owned by photographer and taken within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
  • Entrants may submit photos taken before 2021-22; however please do not submit photos previously entered in the contest.
  • Entrants may submit up to 10 photographs for the duration of the contest, in any number of categories.
  • Any photos that to the best of the judges' knowledge are taken from off-trail or closed-trail locations will not be considered. People in photos must be demonstrating good land stewardship ethics and behaving in a lawful manner. Inappropriate photos will be ineligible for the contest.

Tweet This: Do you have great #columbiagorge or photos? Enter @gorgefriends #ourgorgeconnections #photocontest by Feb. 6:

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Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a nonprofit organization with more than 6,000 members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia Gorge. Friends maintains offices in Portland and Hood River, OR and Washougal, WA.