2018 North Dakota Governor's Photo Contest Winners

Winners and Honorable Mentions from the 15th annual North Dakota Governor's Photo Contest


(Click on images above to scroll through the gallery of winners and honorable mentions)


BISMARCK, N.D. – Steve Silseth's photo “Pintail” has been named Best in Show in the 15th annual North Dakota Governor's Photo Contest.

Gov. Doug Burgum recognized the winning photographs and honorable mentions in a ceremony October 10, 2018, in Memorial Hall of the North Dakota Capitol. Joining Burgum for the presentation were North Dakota Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman and North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) Executive Director Kim Konikow.

In “Pintail,” Silseth captured the moment just before the duck takes flight, leaving a trail of geysers through the water. The photo also took first place in the Wildlife Category and was selected as best from the 1,072 submitted to this year's contest. 

Photos were judged on originality, subject matter, visual appeal and ability to portray North Dakota as a legendary travel destination in the categories of adventure and recreation, places to visit, communities and events, fun with family and friends, scenery and wildlife.

“Today we celebrate the talents of North Dakota amateur photographers and the vibrancy that makes our state an exciting destination and a place to Be Legendary,” Burgum said. “These images capture some of the picturesque landscapes, unique attractions and abundant wildlife found throughout North Dakota.”

The North Dakota Governor’s Photo Contest is a collaborative program between the governor’s office, North Dakota Tourism and the North Dakota Council on the Arts and contest sponsor AAA. The 2018 winning photos will be on display during the months of October, November and December at the Capitol.

“The photos on display here have captured the essence of what sets North Dakota apart,” Otte Coleman said. “These stunning photos help showcase what makes North Dakota truly special.”

“The winning images show a strong understanding of composition and color,” Konikow said. “The artistry is evident, as is North Dakota’s beauty.”

This was the ninth year that photographers could submit photos online through image and video hosting site Flickr. Top category photographers received a $200 cash prize for each winning photo and will have their work featured in North Dakota Tourism’s marketing materials, along with even greater exposure through contest partner AAA. The Best of Show winner received an additional $300 cash prize and a free, one-year basic membership to AAA. Honorable mention winners received $50 and may also have their images featured in the state’s tourism marketing materials. 

The Governor’s Photo Contest is held annually and is open to all North Dakota amateur photographers. Next year’s contest will begin in May 2019

2018 Governor's Photo Contest Winners and Honorable Mentions

Best of Show

Winning Photograph: "Pintail." Steve Silseth, Minot.

Adventure and Recreation

Winning Photograph: "On the Hunt." Laura Gardner, Washburn. 

Places to Visit

Winning Photograph: "Heritage Under our Stars." Zachary Hargrove, Bismarck. Honorable Mention: "The Big Guy." Katherine Plessner, Verona.

Communities and Events

Winning Photograph: "Hot Air Balloon Festival." Katherine Plessner, Verona. Honorable Mention: "Let Freedom Ring." Casey Helling, Golden Valley. 

Fun with Family and Friends

Winning Photograph: "Graciously Guided: A Living History Lesson." Wendy Fix, Bismarck.


Winning Photograph: "Morning Air." Crystal Ann Swoll, Grand Forks. Honorable Mention: "Electric Sunrise." Zachary Hargrove, Bismarck. Honorable Mention: "Teddy's Shooting Star." Zachary Hargrove, Bismarck.


Winning Photograph: "Pintail." Steve Silseth, Minot. Honorable Mention: "Two for Lunch." Katherine Plessner, Verona. Honorable Mention: "Ascension." Tom Wirtz, Bismarck.