2017 High School Photo Contest

Congratulations to Zach Bohannon of Louisville, KY, the GRAND PRIZE WINNER of our 2017 High School Photo Contest!

What began with a trickle of submissions on December 1, 2016 ended with a flood of submissions on February 28, 2017. Just check out these numbers:

Individuals who entered the contest = 3,428
Total number of submissions made = 5,747
Total number of images submitted = 52,812

Thank you to everyone who entered this contest! We are SO impressed by your work. Keep sharing your own unique vision with the world. You all have so much potential and so much talent!

We hope you continue to photograph - every day! - and we hope you’ll keep RMSP in mind for your photographic education. We’d love to help you become the best.

Thank you to our incredible judges - you guys are awesome! Thank you to our staff who helped look through over 50,000 images. And thank you to all of the parents, friends, teachers, and mentors of these 3,428 incredible high school photographers! You help them become who they want to be.

If you're not graduating this year, mark your calendar to enter the contest again next year - it will begin December 1st, 2017!

Category Winners

1st Place: People

Zach Bohannon, KY

Words from David Talley – This image is my top choice for the "people" category. The story-telling devices used in this image to convey a sense of dichotomy sync together beautifully. The delicate, mysterious, and beautiful butterfly held from reach of the subject by a thin gossamer. A perfect allusion to a struggle that many people deal with – the difficulty to push through simple, but weighty facets of life, to see beauty – and it captures just how easy it would be to pull those simple things away.
1st Place: Action

Andrew Junge, CO

Words from Forest Woodward – The dynamic motion of this image and the intensity of the moment make it for me. The sense of speed and intensity, the flag blown back perfectly over his shoulder, and the repetition of the riders and horses in the background all come together in a very pleasing composition. The color pallet of the image – blues and reds and golds and whites – enhances the mood as well.
1st Place: Nature

Quinn Hiaasen, FL

Words from Chris Burkard – The most magical thing about the natural environment is it's unpredictability. It's such an engaging subject to photograph because it enables you to catch a split second in time that you may never be able to see for the rest of your life, which is how I feel when I see photos such as this one. There are few natural phenomenon that fascinate me more than the occurrence of lightning.
2nd Place: People

Leah Paire, MD

Words from David Talley – Choice number two reminds me of a Chet Faker music video. I can feel the explosion of light and dark within the subject just by looking at this image. Mostly, it reminds me of the song "Talk is Cheap," and makes me think of that unifying desire we all have as humans for more substance, reality, and depth.
2nd Place: Action

Taicheng Jin, MA

Words from Forest Woodward – Action is about more than just the pass or the tackle or the end-zone celebration. Often times it is the in-between moments that are most honest, most unexpected, and most relatable to a wider audience of spectators. I love the candid moment captured here. I am left to make up my own story regarding the action – and sometimes shots like this tell us more and make us feel more than we might guess at first glance. It takes a keen eye to find these in-between moments, but when they are done right, they are worth more than a dozen shots of tackles and touch downs. 
2nd Place: Nature

Olivia Crutchfield, MN

Words from Chris Burkard – Before I ever picked up a digital camera, I was immersed in the process of shooting and developing film. If anything, the time I spent shooting film photographs are what allowed me to slow down, think methodically, and shoot strategically. Although this image was shot on a digital camera, it is capturing the experience of looking through the viewfinder of a film camera, which conveys a very nostalgic feeling.
3rd Place: People

Sydney Ibach, GA

Words from David Talley – My third and final choice – this image reminds me of why I fell in love with photography. The depth of the scene lends mystery to the frame – a hot summer’s day, a pool side respite. I started photography because I love the beauty of the mystery of every day, seemingly normal things, like a pool dip mid-summer. This picture captures that part of my childhood perfectly. 
3rd Place: Action

Eakin Howard, NC

Words from Forest Woodward – I love the moment captured here – a wonderful example of a "high action" shot that truly sings. The symmetry of the image – with the leaping runner framed on either side by two other runners still on the ground – tells a wonderful story. The use of shallow depth of field, the repetition of shapes, and the intensity of the lead hurdler’s expression all come together to create a beautiful and inspiring image.
3rd Place: Nature

Kevin Huang, CA

Words from Chris Burkard – Simplicity is the key to creating a captivating landscape photograph. In other words, the less "busy" a photograph can be the more viewers are drawn to the few key subjects in the image. The reason I'm drawn to this shot is because of its simplicity; the blurred water movement creates great contrast between the jagged rock in the background, the birds are an awesome touch and help give the scene a sense of scale.
Are you heading to the University of Montana after you graduate from high school? By completing our Summer Intensive course, you can now earn six college credits (in just six weeks!) BEFORE you even begin college. Click here to learn more!

Contest Rules

  1. The RMSP High School Photo Contest begins on December 1, 2016 and ends at midnight on February 28, 2017. Our system will not allow you to upload any images outside of these times. No submissions will be accepted before or after these times.
  2. All submissions must be made through our website. Submissions will not be accepted via email, link sharing, file transfer service, or other similar methods.
  3. You are not allowed to upload images for anyone else (ie: friend or classmate) while logged into your account. Each submitter must submit in their own account.
  4. You must be the sole copyright owner of all images submitted, and none of your submitted images are exclusively licensed to any other person, company, agency or entity.
  5. Composite images are allowed, however you must be the legal copyright holder of each source image.
  6. You agree to hold harmless RMSP from any conflict relating to copyright of all digital images submitted.
  7. You have or can obtain a signed model or property release for any recognizable location or person depicted in your submitted images.
  8. There is no limit on the number of images you may submit.
  9. By submitting images to our contest, you agree to receive ongoing communications from us and our contest sponsors.
  10. By submitting images to our contest, you consent to RMSP and/or our contest sponsors using your images for promotion of the contest.
  11. By submitting images to our contest, you consent to RMSP using your image with photo credit on its website or social media accounts.
  12. RMSP will never make your images available to any third party (except contest sponsors) without your permission.
  13. You agree to allow RMSP to store your digital file(s) on our servers. We reserve the right to delete your images at any time.
  14. Prizes are subject to change.
  15. Judges are subject to change.





Nature Category:
Just because you are entering a photo contest sponsored by a photography school in Montana (the most beautiful state ever, anywhere), your nature images don't necessarily have to be of towering mountains, crystal clear lakes, or bald eagles. This category is where you will want to submit all of your amazing images that were taken outside. But keep in mind "nature" or "outside" doesn't necessarily mean rural areas, off-the-beaten path locations, or have to depict national-park-style beauty. 
If you captured amazing light on a corn field in Nebraska, submit it here. Got a great photo of a bird perched on a stop sign in New York City? Submit it here. Have an epic photo of an octopus riding a shark that is jumping out of the water ... to catch a flying fish ... in front of a rainbow ... with lightning in the distance? Absolutely submit that gem here!

People Category:
People are everywhere! (especially in the parking lot when I am trying to find a spot close to the door ... s
heesh!). This category is where you should submit all of your amazing studio portraits, tender moments between your grandpa and his dog, or the overly expressive fan at a football game. Male or female, young or old, silhouetted or well lit ... if the main subject of your frame is a person or group of people, submit it in this category.

Action Category:
Whether it's a surfer riding the perfect wave, a wide receiver diving to make the catch or your mom trying to ride your skateboard, capturing the pinnacle moments of people in pursuit of their physical goals takes a keen eye and a fast shutter finger! Images submitted into this category could include team sports such as college basketball or little league baseball. Or they might depict a solo runner on a trail, climber on a wall or even a pair of trapeze artists flying through the air. 

If you are unsure about whether your image fits in this category, ask yourself what the main subject of your photo is. Is the runner a tiny speck in a beautiful landscape? If so, your image might be better entered into the nature category. Is the runner pausing to pose for a portrait? That image might be better suited for the people category.


We will award prizes to the top three finishers in each of our three categories. The three first place finishers (one from each category) will be in the running to win the grand prize. Prizes are subject to change. Prizes are:

Grand Prize Winner (one of the first place winners will be chosen to receive the grand prize):

  1. Canon 6D camera body with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens


First Prize (one winner chosen in each category):

  1. Lensbaby Spark
  2. Oben AT-3565 Aluminum Tripod with BC-217T Head
  3. Ruggard Thunderhead 15 Camera Bag
  4. $100 B&H Gift Card
  5. One year membership to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan
  6. 16x20" Mounted print of the winning image from White House Custom Color
  7. 30 minute image critique and consultation from an RMSP instructor
  8. RMSP T-shirt
  9. RMSP camera strap


Second Prize (one winner chosen in each category):

  1. Ruggard Thunderhead 15 Camera Bag
  2. 30 minute image critique and consultation from an RMSP instructor
  3. RMSP T-shirt
  4. RMSP camera strap


Third Prize (one winner chosen in each category): 

  1. 30 minute image critique and consultation from an RMSP instructor
  2. RMSP T-shirt
  3. RMSP camera strap


This photo contest wouldn't be as exceptional as it is without the support and generosity of many of our Educational Partners. Every company on this list has chipped in to help us help you, and recognizes that your success = their success. We know that we will be flooded with great images from around the world during this contest, but that only a handful of photographers will win prizes. (bummer, but true). But even if you don't win the fully equipped, 50,000 square foot studio space in Manhattan grand prize*, we encourage you to support these brands. And if you ever have a question about any of their products or services, we are happy to steer you in the right direction or spend some time on the phone with you to make sure your questions get answered.

*Just kidding. This isn't one of our prizes... yet.


Nature Category: Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author. Traveling throughout the year to pursue the farthest expanses of Earth, Burkard works to capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature, while promoting the preservation of wild places everywhere.

Layered by outdoor, travel, adventure, surf, and lifestyle subjects, Burkard is known for images that are punctuated by untamed, powerful landscapes. Through social media chris strives to share his vision of wild places with millions of people, and to inspire them to explore for themselves.

His visionary perspective has earned him opportunities to work on global, prominent campaigns with Fortune 500 clients, speak on the TED stage, design product lines, educate, and publish a growing collection of books. Along with his team, Burkard is based out of his production studio and art gallery in the Central Coast of California.

At the age of 30, Burkard has established himself as a global presence and influencer. He is happiest with his wife Breanne raising their two sons Jeremiah and Forrest in his hometown of Pismo Beach, California.



Action Category: Forest Woodward

Raised by Woodwards and tamed by wolves, I am haunted by the allure of point breaks and powder days, steep creeks and tall peaks; I am a hunter gatherer of natural light and candid moments. With an appetite whet with a taste of the unknown and the smell of home, I wander a path paved by open minds and trusting eyes, guided by willing feet...

...and a desire to bring you with me.

From my early days drinking fixer in the dark room, learning zone system and processing 4x5 negatives, to recent trips documenting surf culture in NYC, migrant farm workers in Napa, rock climbing in South Africa, or the street kids of Rio's Carnival, my pursuit of new experiences pushes me to continually evolve my vision, while reminding me of the importance of carrying my camera with humor, compassion and curiosity.

CLIENTS: Patagonia, Filson, Jcrew, CamelBak, Vasque, Outdoor Research, Black Diamond, PrimaLoft, Royal Robbins, Oliberte, RAB, Bluewater Ropes, NRS , Evolv, Cascade Designs, CAMP, Petzl,

EDITORIAL: National Geographic Adventure, Outside Magazine, Esquire, Climbing, Alpinist, Rock & Ice, Australian Geographic Outdoor, The Usual Montauk, Mountain Gazette, Elevation Outdoors, Surfer Mag, Afar, Men’s Health, the Daily Beast (CNN), ABC, Forbes, AARP, The Inertia, Gawker, Elle (Canada), The Active Times, The Guardian, Adventure Journal



People Category: David Talley

"Even the darkest of moments are followed by an explosion of light..."

David Talley believes in a necessary resolution. He is an internationally recognized photographer and educator operating out of Portland, Oregon and Sydney, NSW.  He was named as one of the top five young and talented photographers by the United Colors of Benetton in Italy in 2013. David's work exhibits the darkest moment before an explosion of light, and his imagery is marked by a story, broken but changed for the better, and the ability to transform the present problem into a prosperous future. David is the founder of the 2015 worldwide conceptual photography movement, Concept Collaboration.

In 2015, David traveled to 8 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Norway, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Vietnam, India, and Australia, teaching hundreds of students his inspiration, motivation, and creative techniques, thus enabling them to excel as artists. David's mission as an educator is to help photographers grow in their creative techniques, and to leave his students feeling in-control of and passionate about their creative future.