Ventura Botanical Gardens offers banquet for photographers

What an abundant smorgasbord of colorful blooms and resident fauna were discovered by visitors to the Ventura Botanical Gardens this spring. More than 90 photographers captured the ever-increasing variety of plants in the Mediterranean climate botanical collections found in the Gardens.

Jacqueline Counter

A panel of judges evaluated over 200 submissions and selected winning entries in five categories: Best Overall, Critters, Botanical Macro, Botanical Close-up and Garden Scenes. Winning entries were also chosen by “open voting” on the Ventura Botanical Gardens’ Facebook page.

The judges this year were Greg Montana, photographer and owner of Dexter’s Camera; Monica Furmanski, Assistant Professor of Photography at Ventura College; and Stephanie Hogue, Owner of Latitudes Gallery. Greg continues Dexter’s 70 years of excellent support to the photography community and still processes film. Monica exhibits work locally and nationally and operates the 643 Project Space, an artist run gallery on Ventura Avenue, with her husband Matthew. Stephanie’s work is well known locally for capturing the beauty of the ocean and natural elements of our area. Visitors find her work at Latitudes Gallery on Main Street in downtown Ventura.

Michelle DiGuilio

The contest is open to photos from throughout the year but spring is a favorite season. This year the rains triggered an abundance of new growth, color, birdsong, and scenes captured by our entrants. Denise Dewire, a winner in both the Judges’ and Peoples’ Choice contests, said: “I love VBG and am a charter member. It’s amazing how the Gardens have evolved and how it has come back since the Thomas fire.” Tara Pinley, a winning newcomer to Ventura, is rediscovering her interest in photography. She said: “I’m amazed by the natural beauty in the area — especially the Botanical Gardens where I enjoy gorgeous views of the ocean and gardens all at the same time. It really makes Ventura a wonderful place to live and share with nature.”  

To view all the winning photos go to

Winners in the Judges’ Choice by category were:

  • Best Overall: Denise Dewire (1st and 2nd), Jacqueline Counter (3rd)
  • Critters: Matthew Bear (1st), Tara Pinley (2nd), Michelle DiGuilio (3rd)
  • Botanical Macro: Chuck Aghoian (1st), Alex Davis (2nd), Chuck Aghoian (3rd)
  • Botanical Closeup: Lina Li (1st), April Holmes (2nd), Leslie Leavens (3rd)
  • Garden Scenes: Elisabeth Revenis (1st), Gannon Hutchison (2nd), Benjamin Mati (3rd)

Winners in the Peoples’ Choice were: Denise Dewire (1st, 3rd and 4th), Scott Geist (2nd) and Elizabeth Revenis (5th)

Ventura Botanical Gardens congratulates all the winners and hopes this visual smorgasbord will fuel an appetite for more visitors to experience the Gardens.

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