Photo jurors

Artist Shauna Caldwell and visual storyteller Eric Heistand were announced as jurors for the 18th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition.

HIGH COUNTRY — The 18th Annual announced on Dec. 21 that more than 800 entries were submitted to the competition this year.

Amateur and professional photographers submitted their images in hopes of becoming a finalist in the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition that offers numerous categories with more than $4,000 in cash and prizes. The jurors for the 18th AMPC reside in the High Country, and bring a varied but complementary perspective to the competition this year. Jurors are Shauna Caldwell and Eric Heistand.

A partnership between Appalachian State University Outdoor Programs, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and Virtual Blue Ridge, the AMPC celebrates the unique people, places and pursuits that distinguish the Southern Appalachians. Attracting entries from across the United States, the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition has grown into one the region’s most prestigious photography competitions. The AMPC has been made possible over the years through the generous sponsorship of the Mast General Store and supporters including Appalachian Voices, Bistro Roca, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Footsloggers, Nikon Professional Services, Peabody’s Beer and Wine and Stick Boy Bread Co.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating our 18th year of the AMPC,” said Rich Campbell, the associate director for programs with Appalachian State University and competition director for the AMPC. “We have built a long history of celebrating the people, places, and pursuits of the Southern Appalachians through photography. This has been a very challenging year, and we were thrilled with the response we received by the number of people submitting images this year. Now, more than ever, I think people really appreciate the abundant outdoor resources that the AMPC celebrates every year.”

Caldwell is an artist from Boone. She received BFAs in both Studio Art and Art Education. In addition to working as assistant director of arts education and outreach at Appalachian State University, she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies and a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Administration. Her roots in Appalachia and relationship with the environment shape her creative work.

Heistand is a visual storyteller with a love for capturing redemptive moments and unlikely heroes. An outdoor enthusiast, Heistand’s photography began as an extension of chronicling his adventures on rock walls and ski slopes. Nimble movement over mountainous terrain has shaped Heistand’s embrace of a “fast and light” photography ethic. Heistand moved from the Colorado Rockies to the Appalachians 12 years ago. He has grown to love the misty mountains of North Carolina.

“Don’t be fooled by their smaller size, compared to other great mountain ranges,” Heistand said. “These mountains easily hide beautiful treasures within their dense and complex canopy. A friendship with a local can open up secret passages and vistas that aren’t marked on any map.”

Competition organizers stated that they are excited about this year’s Blue Ridge Parkway Category theme, sponsored by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and Nikon Professional Services, which is “Blue Ridge Parkway: Nature’s Escape.”

“In the face of fear and uncertainty (during the COVID-19 pandemic), many have sought refuge in the country’s natural places, where open spaces allow for natural social distancing,” stated AMPC organizers. “The Blue Ridge Parkway countless locations where visitors can escape life’s stresses and immerse themselves in beautiful Appalachian scenery.”

Photographers submitted images that capture scenes of the Parkway’s use as a refuge of escape into the peaceful open spaces of the Appalachians. The winning image in this category will receive a $250 cash award, provided by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and camera from Nikon Professional Services.

Many additional prize packages including the $1,000 Best in Show prize will be awarded at a special virtual and live streamed event on March 20, 2021. More details about this event will be announced in the coming year.

This year the Turchin Center will be offering limited access to the Mezzanine Gallery where the AMPC will be exhibited. Groups of up to 10 people will be able to reserve spots to browse the gallery and see the exhibition. Additionally, AMPC organizers will organize specific AMPC appointments for viewing.

AMPC also has a virtual calendar lined up, including a signature event on March 20, 2021 when organizers will announce all of the winning images. The AMPC opens on March 5 and runs through June 5, 2021.

For more information about this photography competition, visit, or call App State’s Outdoor Programs at (828) 262-2475.

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