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Tucson student photographers stun with Nature Conservancy photo contest

"Boy with Chicken" won Tucson High School junior Karissa Morales second place in the Nature Conservancy's "Adventure in Nature" photo contest.
Posted at 4:56 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 01:39:41-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Some student photographers in Tucson are taking home big money and bragging rights in the Nature Conservancy's "Adventures in Nature" photo contest this year.

The Nature Conservancy says some 500 students submitted more than 3,700 photos in the contest this year, and two Tucson students took home the top prize.

Chenyu Li of the Gregory School took home first place for "Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains," with judges saying his photo was "remarkable" with "brilliant composition."

"Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains" by Chenyu Li

"Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains" by Chenyu Li

In second place was Tucson High School junior Karissa Morales, for "Boy Kissing Chicken." She said she usually photographs her family and businesses in her community, but wanted to submit something to the contest that captured a piece of nature but preserved her style and showcased some of her own life.

"It's really about humans and how we preserve our land, nature and interact with that. So I was like, this portrays that perfectly" she said. "It may not be a huge, beautiful landscape shot or a portrait shot of a rare bird we saw, but it's still something really correlating to nature conservancy," she said.

"Boy with Chicken" won Tucson High School junior Karissa Morales second place in the Nature Conservancy's "Adventure in Nature" photo contest.
"Boy with Chicken" won Tucson High School junior Karissa Morales second place in the Nature Conservancy's "Adventure in Nature" photo contest.

The photo is her nephew, Joseph, interacting with one of the domesticated chickens on her parents' land in Tucson. Morales was feeding the chickens with her nephew when he grabbed one of them and gave it a kiss.

"A lot of my photos are in black and white because I think color distracts a lot of the viewers' eyes," she said. "I put it in black and white so all you could see was my nephew and the chicken and the moment in between them."

Li and Morales will each take home $10,000 for their winning photos. Morales says she plans to spend the money on new photography equipment.

Henry Davis, another Tucson student, earned an honorable mention in the contest for his photo, "Tortoise."