Readers’ Photo Contest

Ariana CervantesJune 1, 2018
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The 5 Cs of Arizona: Copper, cattle, citrus, cotton and climate – these were the staples of Arizona’s early economy, the sustenance of her salad days. They’re also the inspiration for this year’s showcase of reader-generated photographic excellence. 

CONTEST METHOD The following 10 images were selected by PHOENIX editors, and the winner was selected by our Facebook followers.

Jody Tanner “Branding Day”

A retiree and now semi-professional photographer, Flagstaff’s Jody Tanner captured this graphic but serenely toned image using a Nikon D300 on a 2011 trip to Babbitt Ranches with the Flagstaff Photography Club. Seeing cattle being branded can be a shocking experience, but Tanner was unfazed. “At the Babbitt Ranches, they actually brand them, with a branding iron,” Tanner says. “I’m originally from Idaho, and I’ve been around cowboys and horses and cows, and [I] married an Idaho farm boy, so I’ve been out there in the middle of things.” Find her work at

Jody Tanner “Branding Day”

Winner Anamika Deokar “Spring Bloom”

Anamika Deokar, an Arizona State University graphic design major and club tennis player with a side passion for landscape photography, was headed to the Mesa Tennis Center at Gene Autry Park when she spotted this orange tree, pulled over and shot it with her Canon Rebel T5i. The tree, with its grand presence in the green landscape, isn’t too evocative of the desert, but its vibrant fruit and telltale white-wall trunk (painted for protection from the sun) make it quintessentially Arizonan. Find her work at

Anamika Deokar “Spring Bloom”


Delbert Vega “Havasupai Under the Stars”

Yuma native Delbert Vega was hiking around Havasu Falls with friends when he stumbled onto this scene of cloudless, patently Arizona beauty in the wee hours of the morning. “There [were] a lot of people still at the falls, and I said to myself, ‘Welp, this is not gonna happen,’” Vega says. “It was 1 a.m. when we snapped this.” Vega, a multimedia journalist and photographer, positioned his model facing the falls with a handheld light, snapping a long-exposure, deep-focus image with a Nikon D5600 and 11 mm sigma lens. The result: a glowing, other-worldly silhouette effect. Vega’s work can be found online at


Delbert Vega “Havasupai  Under the Stars”


Brittany Conklin “Cotton Abounds”

Every day on her run through her South Phoenix neighborhood, Brittany Conklin takes pictures of the scenery on her iPhone 6. One morning’s jog yielded this cotton photo. “I feel like South Phoenix always gets a really bad rap,” says Conklin, who serves as the communications director for the American Cancer Society. “We have such beauty out here. That inspired me to take the picture and kind of show off South Phoenix, my best-kept secret in the Valley.” Taken just six miles from the Arizona Capitol, the photo captures the vestiges of Phoenix’s agricultural roots, something Conklin
hopes is preserved as the city continues to grow.

Brittany Conklin “Cotton Abounds”


 Jerry Altman “Buddha’s Hand Citron”

“In a group of phenomenal pictures, I think I’m the only non-photographer,” says Paradise Valley-based PHOENIX Top Doctor Jerry Altman, who captured this segmented citrus at night by the flash of his iPhone. The Buddha’s hand, he explains, is like an orange’s crazy cousin – a lesser-known offspring of Arizona’s citrus legacy. “You know how you can break off an orange into segments and eat them that way?” asks the ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. “This plant has mutated such that the segments are open as it grows, and the skin grows around each segment to form a hand-like structure.” It’s not eaten the way an orange or lemon is, though. Rather, it can be zested onto chicken or salmon, candied for cocktails or infused into vodka.

Jerry Altman “Buddha’s Hand Citron”


Carla and Michael Beedy “Desert Love”

Naomi Cadena and Mona Morsy’s engagement photo showcases Arizona’s fifth and most pervasive C – climate – plus a bonus sixth C: the noble camel. While they were dating, the Phoenix-dwelling couple, both cosmetics manufacturers, went on a trip to Egypt, from which Morsy traces much of her heritage. After Morsy proposed to Cadena a month and a half later, they regretted not having taken their engagement photos in Egypt. Instead, they found a piece of Egypt in Arizona, recruiting Valley husband-wife photographers Carla and Michael Beedy, who collectively run Carmichael Studios, to shoot them with the tame ungulate. “I found out how to rent a camel, and we went to the dunes here in Arizona,” Morsy says. The kicker: The camel, rented from a petting zoo, is named Naomi, the same as one of the brides-to-be.

Carla and Michael Beedy “Desert Love”


Steven Schwartzman “Copper Ore”

Austin, Texas, native Steven Schwartzman was visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson when he snapped this photo using his Canon 5DS R camera. “This slab is outside the visitor center,” the professional photographer says. “I had to lie on the ground and aim upward to isolate the subject from distracting things nearby, and to include the wispy clouds.” The aquamarine- and sapphire-tinted verdigris and brilliant copper contrast with the beige and taupe of their host rock, creating a visual bridge to the blue sky backdrop. Schwartzman’s photos can be found online at

Steven Schwartzman “Copper Ore” 

Tracy Fultz “AZ Dairy Farm”

Though she specializes in concert and event photography, Tracy Fultz couldn’t resist snapping a photo of cows at the Val Vista Dairy farm with her iPhone X. “Since my boyfriend is a photographer as well, it was no surprise to him that I would ask him to turn back around for such a fun, random photo op. The tamales and honey being sold along the roadside were a bonus,” the Phoenix resident says. The vividly colored shot’s dynamic leading lines and snowy white cloud striations appear to extend all the way to the horizon, affording the reader a cattle’s-eye view of the dairy farm – an Arizona 5 Cs image if there ever was one. Fultz’s work can be found online at or on Instagram(@blushingcactusphotography) (@blushingcactusphotography) and Facebook (@blushingcactus).

Tracy Fultz “AZ Dairy Farm”


Melissa Maxwell “Season’s End”

North Carolina native Melissa Maxwell didn’t know cotton grew in Arizona and was surprised to stumble upon a field of it in Queen Creek. “It was at the very end of the season and most of the crop had been plowed to the ground, but there was just enough for me to get an up-close look at these beautiful blossoms,” the Gilbert-based family portrait photographer says. The sepia-toned close-up shot of white, tufty blooms bursting from a cotton boll was captured on a Nikon D7100 with a 50mm lens. Maxwell’s work can be found online at or on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest @jubileefamilyphotography.

Melissa Maxwell “Season’s End”


Gregg Edelman “Canyon Bliss”

More accustomed to smoldering blacktops than snowflakes, Phoenix photographer Gregg Edelman was traveling through Sedona on his way back from Flagstaff one winter day when he happened to glance backward. “As I was driving down through Oak Creek Canyon, I looked in my rearview mirror and noticed the amazing view. So, I pulled over and was able to capture [the] image,” Edelman, the owner of Exposed Studio & Gallery, says. Sultry vermilion rocks peek out from the icy, tendril-like branches of snow-covered trees in the image, reminding the viewer that climate in Arizona is no one-trick monsoon pony. He captured the image through the 28-55 lens of his Canon Rebel. Edelman’s photos can be found online at

Gregg Edelman “Canyon Bliss”


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