BMFF – Congratulations to Beth Wald, Winner of the Mountain Photo Essay Competition

  By Kaitlyn Kerr

Congratulations to Beth Wald, grand prize winner of the 2018 Mountain Photo Essay Competition for her photo essay “Winter in the Afghan Pamirs.” Beth’s photos document the harsh and windswept remote region at the end of the Wakhan Corridor and the Afghan Kyrgyz people who live there, nomadically, depending on herds of yaks and sheep for their livelihood. The Kyrgyz girls and women are dressed in traditional beautifully vibrant red that presents a visual starkness against the monochromatic landscape.

“Our imagination was swept away by these wonderful images from the rarely visited Afghan Pamirs, and we were moved by Wald’s ability to connect with these people who still live in a traditional way,” the jury said of Wald’s essay. This year’s jury consisted of award-winning photographers Jeff Kerby, who was last year’s competition winner; John Price, Signature Image contest winner from 2017; and Jane Sievert, former longtime photo editor at Patagonia.

Wald is a documentary photographer who documents the diversity and challenges of the natural world, remote cultures, and the relationships between them in an intimate way. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian, and The New York Times among many other publications, and she has received numerous awards, including the Rowell Award and POY.

The Special Jury Mention goes to Matthew Polvorosa-Kline’s essay “Arctic Foxes – The Bold Ones.” His essay highlights three arctic fox pups and their playfulness in the Scandinavian mountains, while also giving voice to the conservational challenges that these animals face. Each image is a beautiful contrast of dark, moody northern dusk light with the endearing, charismatic subject.

You can see both essays, along with many other exhibitions, this fall during the 2018 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival. The festival runs from October 27 to November 4 at the Banff Centre. Tickets and schedule are available now.

Also! – The deadline to register for the Adventure Filmmakers Workshop is coming up quick! Be sure to apply by August 8th. Click here for more information and to apply.


Kaitlyn is a craft beer enthusiast and self-labelled film nerd. Suitably, she is one of the hosts of Calgary's Beers & Cameras meetup group. She also drinks too much coffee and wants to see too many places. When not helping coordinate events or exploring whatever city, town, or backroad she can, she also works as a freelance photographer and assistant.