Best Of

Gulfshore Life – 2019 Photo Contest

BY August 30, 2019

There’s no shortage of photographic fodder along this slice of Florida. For our first photo contest, we asked pro and amateur photographers to submit images that celebrate “the best of paradise.” More than 1,300 entries rolled in, and through a judging process that involved our editors, a crack team of experts and you (our readers, who voted online), we identified the top submissions. Here, the winner and four runners-up share the stories behind their winning shots.

Winner: Doug Poe

Survivor, April 2018
Location-Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

“After hearing about a giant nest of birds at Corkscrew’s Lettuce Lake, a dozen photographers and I were out photographing wood storks, roseate spoonbills and egrets when this 10-foot alligator appeared. It started toward me and landed under the boardwalk exactly where I was standing, as if I had whistled for it to come over. I did what any opportunistic photographer would do: I leaned over and started shooting. I visit Corkscrew often and wonder if I’ll catch ‘my gator’ again, but I know the chances are slim that I’ll have the right conditions to get another capture like this one.”


Finalist: Violet Walton


Saints’ Shrine, January 2016 Location – Ave Maria Catholic Parish Church


“I was at a festival in Ave Maria with my friend, when I spotted this church with its dramatic steeple. It was empty, so I wandered inside and found a big open space with crisscross beams that formed a beautiful pattern. The cross itself seemed to be floating above the stage. It only took two or three shots to get this one. The architecture and light shining through were nothing short of heavenly.”


Finalist: Geoffrey Britt

Before the Storm, September 2017 Location – Cape Romano Dome House, off Marco Island


“One week before Hurricane Irma slammed into Cape Romano, I was out on a boat on a mostly sunny day when storm clouds started rolling in. I was nervous but felt an urge to stick around. I wouldn’t say that I was destined to capture the domes before the architectural site was forever changed (two of them were toppled after the storm), but I did get a sense of impending doom as the sky and structures took on an ominous tone.”


Readers’ Choice: Blaine Johnathan

Stress Free, July 2014 Location: Naples Pier

“This is one of my favorite images I’ve ever captured. I love the low tide and painterly sky. I stood on the 13th Avenue South access point facing northwest toward the iconic Naples Pier. As I composed the image, the sun set behind the lower cloud layer. I wasn’t sure if any color would appear, then a brief, stunning display of red and orange tones coated the sky and water.”


Finalist: Robert Kimbrell


Birds in Paradise, July 2017
Location – Sanibel Island

“I was amazed to see that this beloved bird would be raising her white- morph fledgling near the busy Sanibel fishing pier. But the crowd didn’t seem to notice. For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture the reddish egret, a favorite with photographers and birders for its beauty, rarity and the dance it often perform when it’s fishing.”

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