By Logan Dubel
Calling all photographers, no matter your skill level! Whether grabbing a quick snapshot on your phone or capturing a masterpiece through a Canon lens, both amateurs and professionals all agree that Ocean City, Maryland, is a photographer’s dream. From the bustling and colorful Boardwalk to the peaceful sand and surf and the nature-filled Assateague Island, the Eastern Shore offers endless landscapes all awaiting a shutter and flash.
With its beautiful scenery, the resort is often home to countless image competitions, but few match the grandeur and meaning of the Louis Parsons III Memorial Photo Contest, now returning for its second year at the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum. Created to honor the life and legacy of dedicated museum board member and photographer Lou Parsons, the contest allows photographers 18 and over of any skill level to submit stunning images with the chance of winning prize money.
Lou was more than simply a photographer but a kind-hearted and optimistic lover of Ocean City. His favorite sights, such as sunsets, the Boardwalk, and the beach are represented through categories in the contest.
This year, it is easier than ever before to enter. The museum has designed a new online platform, allowing participants to directly upload their chosen images. The entry fee is just $5, and the platform will remain open until October 3.
Winners in each category will receive a prize of $250, and the grand prize winner will earn an additional $250, totaling $500 in prize money.
Plus, the new online platform allows visitors to the site to view all the images as they are submitted and vote on their favorites in a brand-new People’s Choice category, encouraging greater engagement and participation. Votes cost $1 each and are tax-deductible. People can vote as many times as they wish until November 6, and the winner will be announced on November 7, earning a gift basket valued at $100. The winners and organizers will celebrate together in person in the fall.
After a successful inaugural year, gracious sponsor Jeff Williams knew that the contest needed to continue. Williams, a longtime friend of Lou and the former publisher of Oceana Magazine, who now lives across the country in Oregon, believes that the contest keeps Lou’s memory and his love of the coastal community alive while producing even more fascinating images of the town beloved by all.
“It’s a tribute to Lou that we wanted to continue after the great success of the contest last year,” Williams said. “We hope that this year will be even more successful and that this contest continues for many years – even beyond my involvement one day!”
Returning to the judging panel this year are Martin Smith-Rodden, a professor of photojournalism at Ball State University, and Terry Plowman, the publisher of lifestyle magazine Delaware Beach Life. Additionally, John Sisson, President of the Art League of Ocean City will also serve as a judge.
As a first-time judge, Sisson looks forward to viewing the countless submissions. “Photography freezes a moment in time, and a good photographer draws our concentration to a singular aspect of our existence,” he explained. “Whether eliciting a smile, provoking thought, or creating a sense of wonder, I love seeing how people share their perception of life through their photos.”
The 2022 contest promises to be a success, with 17 entries and more than 700 votes already cast with over four months remaining for submissions. The 2021 contest generated 133 photo submissions, and organizers hope to quickly surpass that figure.
True to the contest’s mission, participants are carrying on Lou’s legacy and feeling a sense of community themselves. 2021 winner Zachary Garmoe, a young environmental photographer living on the shore, says that the contest was eye-opening and extremely unique.
“This was the first major contest I had ever won, and it was certainly validating artistically. However, what was exciting was going to the event after the contest and meeting with all of Lou’s old friends and hearing about his passion for photography, as well as their passion for continuing his legacy,” Garmoe reflected. “That was special to be part of and certainly not something I expected when I simply submitted a few photos for a contest.”
For both Garmoe and Williams, the most special element of the contest was meeting and celebrating in person. Garmoe felt inspired by all the new faces he met, and for Williams, the reception served as a homecoming and reunion with many of his friends he had not seen in his many years away from the Eastern Shore. True to Lou’s legacy, the concept is bringing people of all ages together over their mutual appreciation for the beauty of the town we call home.
Whether you’re a pro or simply a lover of Ocean City, this contest is for you. Don’t hesitate and submit a photo today! To enter the contest or to vote, visit https://www.gogophotocontest.com/oceancitymuseumsociety