Augusta's Crystal Socha is 1 of 10 winners in the Ranchland Trust of Kansas Photography Contest

Greg Williams
Butler County Times Gazette
Augusta's Crystal Socha photo in RTK photo contest

Winners have been announced for the 10th annual Ranchland Trust of Kansas (RTK) photography contest.

Each summer, RTK invites amateur and professional photographers of all ages to submit photos that showcase the mission of RTK and Kansas’ ranching heritage.

The mission of RTK is “To preserve Kansas’ ranching heritage and open spaces for future generations through the conservation of working landscapes.”

Justine Henderson of Minneapolis was the grand prize winner in this year’s contest. Her photo was taken in the hills near Saint George at the Lazy N Ranch during an evening of checking heifers.

“Brice leaned down to give my border collie some praise for her good work that evening,” said Henderson. “I’ve always been a sucker for tender moments between animals and man, so I pulled out my camera right as she reached up to meet his hand.”

Her passion for photography began in a branding pen on the ranch where she grew up, capturing the beauty and reality of the western lifestyle.

“It feels wonderful to be chosen as the grand prize winner. I am honored that my photography can be the liaison between the agriculture community and the rest of the world, by telling its story through my lens,” Henderson said.

The winning photographs will be used, with permission of the photographers, to promote Kansas’ ranching heritage and open spaces.

Henderson said, “The fact that my photo has not only won the grand prize but also will be used to support the preservation of a lifestyle and community I hold dear to my heart is more than I could ever ask for.”

Rachael Sebastian of Tribune won the Fan Favorite category by receiving the most votes on RTK’s Facebook page.

“I'm really honored to be included in a group of such talented photographers featured this year. RTK is a fantastic organization and resource for my family who has owned farm and ranchland in Marshall County since 1879, where my parents still run cattle today,” Sebastian said.

Her winning photo was taken at Horace in Greeley County. The cowboy in the photo is Garth Bullis, who is a pen rider for Irsik and Doll at Ingalls and also a cutting horse trainer. The horse, Metallic Juice “Juicy,” belongs to Laine Jenlink.

“A lot of my photography falls into the genre of western and cowboy art. This composition was inspired by cowboy artists such as Joel Phillips, who is a good friend of mine, and Tim Cox. I set up the shot and then Juicy dropped her head at the perfect angle that made the reins loop into an interesting shape, and the shot just came together,” she said.

All other category winners were chosen by a panel of judges. Winners in each category were: Landscape – Tony Ifland, Cedar; Livestock – Emma Miller, Emporia; People – Greg Kramos, Manhattan; Sunrise/sunset – Bruce L. Hogle, Leawood; KLA Member – Marisa Betts, Dorrance; Youth – Emma Rohrbaugh, Caldwell; and Honorable Mentions – Crystal Socha, Augusta; and Jen Free, Randolph.

L’image is the sponsor of this year’s photography contest.

The locally owned photo printing and picture framing store in Wichita has been in business for over 25 years, specializing in their ready-to-hang plaque mount. They also offer image mounting, metal prints, laminating, canvas gallery wraps, and traditional framing.

They are in the business of making the artist or photographer look their best. Prizes are awarded to the top 10 winning photographers. All winning entries can be viewed on RTK’s Facebook page or website.

Greg Williams has been the reporter for the Wellington Daily News and Butler County Times-Gazette since May 2021. You can reach him at GWilliams@gannett.com or on Twitter at @GregWilliams28.