The Washington State High School Photography Competition has a grass roots beginning in the mid 1980’s. Formed by a group of high school photography instructors as a way of elevating student photography, the early competitions included only a handful of high schools, a few hundred entries, passionate instructors and eager students. The images were collected and organized by the instructors and later judged by an impartial jury. Ribbons were awarded and the final images traveled throughout the year to be exhibited at the competing schools. It was small, informal and entirely volunteer.

In the 1990’s the event attracted sponsorship and public awareness rose due to exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum, featured articles in the Seattle Times newspaper, a segment on KING TV’s Evening Magazine and New Day programs, and a prestigious awards ceremony featuring Washington State Governors Mike Lowry and Gary Locke. In 2019, we received 3,506 entries from 66 schools. The 2019 exhibit was shown at Wallingford Frame Central from June and July and Seattle Art Museum in December.


The competition welcomed support from sponsors Frame Central, who graciously offer to professionally mat and frame the final exhibit images and host the awards ceremony; Canon USA, who provide operating funds; the Jones Soda Company, who reproduce 6 student images on 250,000 of their soda bottles; and the Photographic Center Northwest, who provide tuition for one of their classes to a deserving student. Kenmore Camera, a local photographic dealer, showcases the final images on their website and handles some administrative tasks.


The event remains largely a volunteer effort with many students and teachers devoting time throughout the year to ensure its success. In addition to the executive director, an advisory board of active high school photography instructors provides guidance.

  • Kelly Atkinson, Executive Director
  • Doris Conrath, Tacoma School of the Arts
  • Rob Flye, Inglemoor
  • Tim Kennedy, Cedarcrest
  • Jeremy Leffel, Stadium