Winners recognized in the 2018 North Dakota Governor's Photo Contest

BISMARCK -- Gov. Doug Burgum recognized the winning photographs and honorable mentions for the 15th annual North Dakota Governor's Photo Contest on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in Bismarck.
"Pintail," the Best of Show winner for this year's North Dakota Governor's Photo Contest. Courtesy of Steve Silseth

BISMARCK - Gov. Doug Burgum recognized the winning photographs and honorable mentions for the 15th annual North Dakota Governor's Photo Contest on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in Bismarck.

Minot resident Steve Silseth's photo, "Pintail," was named Best of Show and was also the winning photograph for the Wildlife category. The photo was selected best out of 1,072 submitted into the contest, according to a North Dakota Tourism press release.

Silseth's photo took patience and a keen eye for the duck's behavior.

"I sat in a blind for a few nights and got a lot of pictures of other ducks and stuff. Then there were two pintail drakes. I could tell by the body language he was going to fly, so I got set up and took the shot," he said.

Silseth has been interested in photography since the '90s, but he stuck with it more when digital photography began its reign. That passion led him to an honorable mention last year and his big wins this year.

"I don't really sell a lot of images or market my photography like I should. It's more of a hobby," Silseth said. "I was surprised to win because there were a lot of really nice images. It's nice to see your hard work published."

Bismarck resident Zachary Hargrove had a couple photos win honorable mention in the contest, but also had his photo, "Heritage Under our Stars," win the Places to Visit category.

Hargrove has been seriously engaged in photography for about five years, but this was one of the few contests he's entered. Hargrove said he was overwhelmed with emotion when he found out he won.

"It was emotional. I saw the first few and they were all amazing; I couldn't believe I had pictures up there. I didn't know what I would get. As far as I know I would get a couple honorable mentions, but when they announced that I won that category, it was really emotional," Hargrove said.

"It was cool to see the governor there and shake his hand. It was a humbling, but empowering experience. I just want people to know this place is amazing as far as scenery goes. I just encourage them to go out and explore."

This was the ninth year photographers could submit photos online through the image and video hosting service Flickr. Each winner received a $200 cash price, will have their work featured in North Dakota Tourism's marketing materials and receive more exposure through contest partner AAA.

The Best of Show winner receives an additional $300 cash prize and a free, one-year basic membership with AAA. Honorable mention winners received $50 and could still have their photos featured in the state's marketing materials.

Next year's contest will begin May 2019 and is available to all North Dakota amateur photographers.