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Hocus Focus

By Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Oct. 10, 2013 | Modified: Oct. 10, 2013
Hocus Focus

'Fall Cycling' by Tommy Penick, winner, Blue Ridge Parkway: Weather on the Parkway category, 2013 AMPC
Photos courtesy of ASU Outdoor Programs

When it comes to photography, the High Country is a magical place.

Each season conjures a palette unique to Western North Carolina, a picturesque paradise where photographers can work their wizardry.

From mountain majesties to fire-colored foliage, snow-covered forests to fresh dewdrops, the region inspires photographers to aim high.

The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition encourages them to do the same.

Now in its 11th year, the competition has officially opened for registration and submissions, and all are welcome to participate — amateurs, professionals and all points in between.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Rich Campbell, director of Appalachian State University Outdoor Programs, which, in collaboration with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, hosts the competition. “Our 10th year was a milestone for us, so we’re definitely excited about moving forward.”

Campbell said the AMPC has grown into one of the region’s most prestigious competitions, with close to 1,000 submissions in last year’s outing, all judged by a panel of experts.

“We’re working on getting some of the jurors right now,” Campbell said. “We’ve got some promising leads on some pretty prominent photographers.”

The AMPC is divided into numerous categories, offering more than $4,000 in cash and prizes. Best in Show nets a $1,000 cash prize and People’s Choice $350, while winners of the Culture, Adventure, Flora and Fauna and Landscape categories each receive $250 prize packages from Mast General Store.

Per tradition, this year’s contest will feature a Blue Ridge Parkway category — “Parkway People.”
“Landscape is typically the biggest category,” Campbell said, “and it’s great. But I’m excited about the ‘Parkway People’ category … because there’s a story behind it and the people. They can be visitors, workers, traveling the road, in the backcountry or at any of the overlooks. It really can be a variety of different stories. With people, this category lends itself to some great potential.”

The winning image in this category will receive a $500 cash award, courtesy of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

Another AMPC staple returns with “Our Ecological Footprint,” a category created to document environmental issues in the Southern Appalachians. As such, Campbell said, photographers are tasked with shooting a creative and poignant piece that illustrates humanity’s footprint on the environment. The winner will receive $500 in cash and prizes.

After the submission deadline of 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, the jurors will get to work on narrowing down the entries to approximately 46, all of which will be displayed at the Turchin Center March 7 through June 7, 2014. According to Campbell, approximately 10,000 people visited the 2012-13 exhibition.

“I really think the level of images has definitely been elevated over the years, and I don’t think it’s the fact that we have more professional photographers entering, because we had an amateur win Best in Show (in 2012-13),” Campbell said, referring to photographer Sharon Canter and her winning photo, “Another Autumn.” “People obviously have a lot of fun with the competition. It’s a point of pride to get in there. We do get a lot of people that submit from out of the region, but it still remains a homegrown contest.”

For more information on the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, including rules and requirements, or to submit a photo, visit

Additional Images

'Fall Cycling' by Tommy Penick, winner, Blue Ridge Parkway: Weather on the Parkway category, 2013 AMPC
Photos courtesy of ASU Outdoor Programs

‘Another Autumn’ by Sharon Canter, winner, Best in Show, 2013 AMPC

‘Porta Portrait’ by Chuck Almarez, winner, Culture category, 2013 AMPC

‘Scenic Overlook’ by Debra Vanderlaan, special mention honors, 2013 AMPC

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