Due to the pandemic, there was no 2020 High School Photography contest. We hope that potential contestants this year will be inspired by the 2019 showcase of winners!

Congratulations to our 2019-2020 High School Photography Winners!

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, VOWA, is pleased to present the winners of our 2019-2020 High School Photography Competition.  These winners typify both scholarship and love of the outdoors.  Due to the Coronavirus pandemic we did not get to celebrate with these special young people at our Annual Meeting. VOWA offers sincere congratulations to the winners and celebrates their outstanding work in this showcase.
Two of our photography winners were also winners in our essay competition. You may visit the Essay Winners Showcase HERE to read their wonderful essays.

1st Place Best Outdoor Photo 

“Icy Suns”

Rachel Weghorst
“Icy Suns”
Rappahannock County High School and Mountain Vista Governor’s School

Rachel Weghorst, a multi talented 11th grade student at Rappahannock County High School and Mountain Vista Governor’s School,  took top honors in this year’s VOWA High School photography competition. This win carries a cash prize of $150. She also won an Honorable Mention for her lovely essay about Yellowstone National Park in the essay division of the VOWA competition.  Living in Sperryville, nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains right beside Shenandoah National Park, Rachel loves the outdoors.  Rachel is very passionate about running and participates in Cross Country and Track and Field.

“Icy Suns,” Rachel tells us, was captured, using her iPhone-Xr during a family vacation at Yellowstone National Park. The location was a picturesque hot springs near the Grand Prismatic. Outstanding work Rachel capturing layers and a beautiful reflection, gorgeous photography! You have quite a photographic eye. We hope you will continue your writing and photography of our beautiful natural world and also enter our contests again next year. Congratulations!

“Foggy Morning”

2nd Place Best Outdoor Photo

Reilly Oare
“Foggy Morning”
Fauquier High School and Mountain Vista Governor’s School 

Reilly Oare, our 2nd Place winner, receiving a $100 cash prize, is a senior at Fauquier High School and Mountain Vista Governor’s School.  Also an accomplished writer and rock climber, Reilly took top honors in this year’s  High School Essay Contest with her beautifully written essay “Climbing Seneca Rocks.” Reilly tells us that she loves to hike, kayak, play guitar, and most importantly, rock climb! After graduation plans for Reilly include attending a four-year university to study environmental or civil engineering.

Her well composed image, “Foggy Morning,” was captured on the last day of a trip to Switzerland. Reilly describes that “…after a week of warm sunshine, the weather called for cold rain but we did not allow the conditions to deter us and went to Lake Oeschinensee. After wandering in the fog for an hour, we found a rushing waterfall on the bank, where my friend is seen gazing into the distance.”  Beautiful image Reilly! We hope you continue your rock climbing, love of the outdoors, photography and achieve much success in your engineering career. Congratulations!

3rd Place Best Outdoor Photo

Alannah Murphy
“A Morning Walk by the Water”
Varina High School, Henrico

“Morning Walk by the Water”

Alannah Murphy is a 16-year-old sophomore at Varina High School, Henrico, Virginia. She is active on the newspaper staff and with the Specialty Center for Communication and Media Relations. Her interests include playing on the school’s volleyball team, traveling, art, and writing. Her

fascination with photography started when “I was little and my parents would give me a disposable camera when we were traveling.” Alannah has had images published in Richmond Magazine and hopes to continue with photography into college and beyond.

Winner of our 3rd Place award, which carries a $50 cash prize, “A Morning Walk by the Water” is a picture of Alannah’s dad and brother walking along the Charleston, South Carolina, coastline early in the morning.  “My family travels to many different beaches along the east coast,” she tells us, “and one of my favorite things that we do at every beach we go to is to get up very early and walk down to the water. It’s nice going so early because it’s not too hot and not too crowded. I love how peaceful this photo is, it gives the viewer a sense of adventure.”

Lovely photo Alannah! Keep taking wonderful pictures and pursuing your photography goals, you have talent!


We thank Dominion Energy for a generous grant that supported our running of the VOWA Collegiate and High School competitions for writing about and photographing our beautiful outdoors. We at VOWA feel these competitions are so very important because they encourage the future communicators and stewards of our natural world.
This year’s High School Photography Contest was chaired by VOWA President Terry Lewis, with Marie & Milan Majarov of Majarov Photography serving as judges.   We thank them all sincerely for their efforts, time and patience in making this a wonderful competition.