Special Gift for Birthday Celebrant: Grand Prize in 'Picture This:' Photo Contest
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN, MA—Evan Guarino of Worcester received an extra-special present on his 31st birthday earlier this month--notification that he had been named Grand Prize Winner in Mass Audubon’s 2018 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.
His winning photograph was a nighttime image of pier pilings on a Falmouth beach under a luminous Milky Way, with the lights of Martha’s Vineyard glowing in the background. “I got the word that I won on the same day as my birthday, December 7, so that was a nice little gift,” acknowledged Guarino. This year’s contest attracted nearly 700 photographers, who submitted more than 4,000 entries.
The annual competition invites photographers—in Under-18 and 18-and-older age groups—to enter up to 10 images total in six subject categories: People in Nature, Birds, Mammals, Other Animals, Landscapes, and Plants and Fungi. Photos must be taken in Massachusetts or at Wildwood, Mass Audubon’s overnight camp in Rindge, NH.
The Grand Prize photo was entered in the Landscape category and 11 other winners were chosen, representing both age groups and the six subject categories. Ten honorable mentions were also selected.
Picture This: Your Great Outdoors is one of the many ways in which Mass Audubon, the state’s largest conservation nonprofit, encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature.
Guarino wins a $250 gift card, in addition to his image being featured in Mass Audubon’s member newsletter, Explore. The 11 others winners receive $100 gift cards and the honorable mentions get $50 gift cards. All cards are to be redeemed at Mass Audubon shops or wildlife sanctuaries.
A civil engineer who tests the structural integrity of bridges and other critical infrastructure, Guarino did not start taking photos until several years ago, and from the beginning he was “focused” on a growing niche: astrophotography. “I got my first camera in 2014 and when I began to take pictures of the night sky, that’s when it really took off for me,” he said.
When Guarino moved to Worcester a few years ago, he discovered that Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary was only about a half-mile from where he lived. “I became a visitor,” he recalled, “and then I learned about the photo contest on Mass Audubon’s Instagram account.” Wachusett Meadow, located just north of Worcester in Princeton, is another wildlife sanctuary where Guarino has trained his cameras on the heavens.
“I’m surprised how few people really appreciate the night sky,” he said. Now, thanks to his Mass Audubon photo contest distinction, maybe more people will.
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.