A rainbow arches over a deep green forest and dips out of sight behind a cottage sitting on the edge of a bright blue lake. The photograph, captioned “Be right back. Searching for gold.”, brings to mind exotic locales.
However, that image by Instagram user @helengracesmith, depicts Lake Crabtree Park and was submitted to the Wake County Parks second annual Instagram contest, which began on September 1 and will run through November 30.
Winning photographs, chosen by Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space staff, will be showcased at an exhibit in the Historic Oak View county park in the spring.
Instagram user @vickiosphotos, who won third place last year for her portrait of a goat, said in the process of photographing for the contest, she found several new parks she didn’t know about previously. This year, she plans on visiting two more she didn’t have time to see in 2014.
Last year’s contest had about 250 entries. Steve Walston, digital content manager for Wake County information services, said he expects “several hundred” this year.
People interested in entering the competition should start by following @wakegovparks on Instagram and uploading photographs with the hashtag #OurWakeCountyParks and the name of the park or nature preserve pictured. In order to be considered for the contest, photographs must be original, free of obscenity and depict parks and nature preserves managed by Wake County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space. The full rules and a list of eligible parks is on the Wake County Parks website.
Audrey Priel, a Wake Forest teacher and part-time professional photographer, said she is excited about the contest and sees it as a great opportunity to share her photographs on the popular social media platform. @wakegovparks, which currently has more than 900 followers, will feature some of the submitted photographs on its own account throughout the contest.
Roylance said the main goal of the contest is to encourage people to “get outside and visit our parks,” and then share those experiences with friends.
Roylance also suggested that participants not only take landscape shots, but also capture activity. Judges want to see “the things you do when you go to the parks,” he said. Aspiring photographers can also find inspiration from each of the parks’ Facebook pages, where Wake County staff will be posting suggestions and ideas for contest pictures.