While it is commonplace to try to pinpoint what makes a photograph great — uniqueness, creativity, technique, contrast, emotion — the reality is words really can’t describe a picture that captures an audience. Whether snapped by a skilled amateur or the trained professional, this year’s winners were truly awe-inspiring.

The Reporter’s picks for best Professional Color, Amateur Color, and Amateur Black and White captured imaginations — from a unique take on a dog house to a sky on fire atop calm waters, a rock legend captured in his glory to a frustrated lion, a giant lollipop to seemingly curious kitty cats.

David Comden, Christy Cisneros, Paul Sisolak, Michel Cicero and Michael Sullivan chose the best images of dozens of entries that caught our attention, drew us in and made us wonder about the interesting perspectives of those photographers. Please take a moment to enjoy this year’s winners.

Unfortunately, because too few submissions were received to make it competitive, the Professional Black and White category was omitted.


Professional Color * 1st Place (Cover Photo)
Jessica Lindley

Dog House
“The unexpected is sometimes more splendid to receive than what was once planned. This unintentional triple exposure dog house was taken with a medium format twin lens reflex camera — my favorite to use and record the nostalgia of cars, traveling and architecture.”
















Professional Color * 2nd Place
Scott Heffelfinger 

“I celebrated my anniversary in October in Hawaii. This sunset happened as we reached 10 years of marriage. The colors were spectacular and the ambiance romantic.”


















Professional Color * 3rd Place
Amanda Peacock

“I have been photographing live music for over 10 years (I used to shoot weddings in L.A.) and I have always wanted to shoot Jane’s Addiction. It was all that I ever thought it would be — but even better! Dave Navarro posed for me over and over again — and I got some of my best live shots ever!”



















Amateur Color * 1st Place
Jessamyn Prince

A Simpler Time
“In times such as these, it’s important to remember the simple joys. We, as a society, have come to believe that we can only be entertained by flashy shoes and expensive toys. With the recession hitting everyone, no matter their status, it’s time to relearn the lessons of our childhood. To remember the excitement and joy, from getting your allowance and imagining all the wonderful treats that you will get at the candy store.”
“Side note: During this time, it’s also important to support our local businesses. Everything shown in this photograph was purchased at Rocket Fizz, a local store located in Camarillo on Ventura Boulevard.”










Amateur Color * 2nd Place
Steve Hendricks

Norwegian Star reflection
“My wife and I took a cruise this last October and, while aboard I took some photos of the reflections on the glass of the ship. It was a beautiful day off the coast of Mexico.” 













Amateur Color * 3rd Place
John Crowley

3 cats, 1 squirrel
“A baby ground squirrel cleans up the last of some spilled birdseed, while three indoor cats admire his appetite.” 














Amateur * Honorable Mention
Lisa Dodge

“This is a process called wet collodion. Yosemite is a glass plate and the other a tin type. This process dates back from the early 1800’s and moves my mountains…”
Judge’s note: Had we been able to classify this photo for one of our categories — black and white or color — it would have placed. Unfortunately, due to the tone of the pic, similar to sepia, it has been given an honorable mention.
















Amateur B&W * 1st Place
Katie Worcester

Lion that snarls at visitors
“I took this photo while I was visiting the Moorpark Zoo/Animal Training Facility. The lion, at first, seemed passive and off in a daze. When a group of children approached, the lion suddenly based its teeth and let out a snarl. This is that moment.”











Amateur B&W * 2nd Place
Cliff Montgomery












Amateur B&W * 3rd Place
Steve Hendricks

Tracks to Heaven
“I took this photo on a very foggy morning this past July in Ventura. I originally was going to take some photos of the mustard fields alongside Highway 101, but when I got to the location, it was very, very foggy. I saw the train tracks disappearing into the fog, so I took some photos.”