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Images of snuggling plovers, adventurous cold-water swimmers, and dramatic seasonal scenes are among the big winners announced this week in the 2023 Essex Heritage Photo Contest.

Run by the nonprofit Essex National Heritage Commission, this annual photo contest asks photographers of all levels and ages to capture the sweeping landscapes, vibrant communities, and unique natural beauty that makes Essex County such a special place. All photographs are taken in 2023 within the Essex National Heritage Area, which includes the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, spanning the North Shore and Merrimack Valley.

Winners were named in four categories: Buildings, Blocks, and Neighborhoods; Celebrating Our Communities; Four Seasons; and a youth category in which young people showcased why they love where they live. A People’s Choice Award winner was also named.

A photo contest reception will be held on March 6 at 6 p.m. at the Salem Armory Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Street in Salem. The reception is free, open to the public, and light refreshments will be available. The 14 winning images will be on exhibition at the visitor center from February 21 through the end of March.

All the winning photos can be viewed on the Essex Heritage Facebook page or at

2023 Essex Heritage Photo Contest Winners

Grand Prize Winner

“Precious Plovers,” by Kathy Diamontopoulos taken in Ipswich

Category: Buildings, Blocks, and Neighborhoods

1st place: “Man at the Wheel,” by Jason Kennedy, taken in Gloucester
2nd place: “Pink House, Half Moon,” by Catherine Grassello, taken in Newbury
3rd place: “Lollipop Trees,” by Karen Hosking, taken in Manchester-by-the-Sea

Category: Celebrating Our Communities

1st place: “Ice Breaker,” by Francisco Urena, taken in Boxford
2nd place: “Jackson Cup,” by Mark Katz, taken in Marblehead
3rd place: “Enjoying the Show,” by Rick Matthias, taken in Salem

Category: Four Seasons

1st place: “Springtime Eaglet – It’s Your Turn to Feed,” by Carin Macnamara
2nd place: “Cygnets Amidst Fall Hues,” by Deric LePard, taken in Andover
3rd place: “River Snowfall,” by Brian Searles, taken in Topsfield

Youth Category

1st place: “Merrimack River in Lawrence,” by Dante A. Cutietta, taken in Lawrence
2nd place: “Grasshopper,” by Georgana Cauthers, taken in Gloucester
3rd place: “Mushroom Meadow,” by Jameson Dick, taken in Topsfield

People’s Choice Award Winner

“All is Calm,” by Alison Colby-Campbell, taken in Haverhill

The contest is presented by Essex Heritage in partnership with North Shore Bank, DeIulis Brothers Construction, Geller MicroAnalytical Labs, Groom Construction, and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. Prize sponsorships were awarded by Hunt’s Photo & Video, Ipswich River Watershed Association, REI, SEE Shore Photography, The Trustees of Reservations, Mass Audubon, Harbor Sweets, Rockafellas Restaurant, and Atomic Café.