Brian Powell, an amateur photographer and program coordinator in the Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation, is the grand prize winner of the National Geographic/Nikon Full Story Contest.
Powell won with his entry, “A Test of Resiliency: Land and Ranchers in Arizona’s Borderlands,” a package of photographs, an essay and a video about the challenges ranchers in Pima County’s Altar Valley face as a result of historic overgrazing, the current severe drought, drug and human smuggling, and development. His entry can be viewed at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/nikon/fullstory.html.
Powell will accompany Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, on a National Geographic Expedition to the Galápagos Islands Feb. 8-17 to photograph the islands’ rich ecosystem. His photographs from the expedition will be available for viewing on the National Geographic website beginning Feb. 27.
Last fall, Powell was one of five first prize winners who were sent a Nikon D600 to shoot their full story between Dec. 17, 2012, and Jan. 7, 2013. He also won first place in the Travel Photographer of the Year competition in 2010.
Powell, who has worked for Pima County since 1997, has been an avid photographer since he was 13 years old.
The project in the Altar Valley, though pursued in his personal time, is related to his work at the County. He assists in the management and monitoring of the County’s extensive ranchlands. Through his work he has gained an appreciation for and interest in the ranching community and their role in land conservation.
“The competition motivated me to take on a project that would push the limits of my photographic ‘comfort zone,’” Powell said. “Most of my images are of nature, but this project challenged me to take a broader view of humans within the natural environment. It was a fantastic experience.”