She Gave It Her Best Shot!


Emily McNeil Wins The Rockaway Times 2019 Photo Contest

Rockaway’s finest shutterbugs gave it their best shot in The 2019 Rockaway Times Photo Contest—and we have a winner! This past Saturday, August 24 at Caracas Beach 106th Concession, after much debate, the judges awarded the $500 jackpot to Emily McNeil. It was no easy feat as they had the tough job of whittling down the 11 finalist photos to top three in a competition, where every single photo truly reflected Rockaway’s picturesque beauty. However, McNeil came out on top with her photo and won not just $500 but boasting rights for scoring front page of this week’s Rockaway Times.

Besides McNeil, the other two finalists were Connor Rodriguez for the nighttime shot of his family’s fluorescent-lighted bicycles on the boardwalk submitted in the Rockaway Beach life category, and Gabrielle Breen for her shot of a perfect rainbow over a lifeguard chair, which was entered in the Top Rainbow/Lightning category.

As for McNeil, she is beyond ecstatic that her photo of two children peering into telescopes on the boardwalk won. What was her inspiration—none other than her son. “My son inspired me to take the shot. It was such a beautiful day and the photo came out perfect, and all I used was my Google Pixel phone. I can’t believe I won!” McNeil exclaimed.

Amongst the 11 finalists were Ari Kostaras, fondly known as Rockaway Beach’s ice cream man, Mr. Softee. Kostaras made the top 11 for his photo of a midnight lightning scene. Though he did not win, Kostaras said he will continue to submit photos to The RT’s Local Color page and 2020’s Rockaway Times Photo Contest. “I’ve been taking photos for over 30 years. I use either my camera or phone. I love being a part of capturing memorable scenes in Rockaway,” Kostaras said.

The other 10 finalists were Bob Anthony, 2018’s winner, Don Riepe, (for two entries), Jessica Woods, Ken Ternlund, Tom Farley, and Uladzimir Taukachou. However, everyone went home a winner as they got to take home their photos that were blown-up poster-sized for the entire summer as part of an outdoor gallery displayed on the boardwalk railings, the ferry dock, and Broad Channel Park.

The contest also helped The RT pick their cover for this year’s Rockaway Times Summer Guide. Although not a finalist, Lexi Stathis’ rainbow over a lifeguard chair served as the 2019 cover photo.

To try to eliminate some unfair favoritism that occurred during the public voting round in years past, with friends and family coming out strong to vote for a few photos, this year’s contest was strictly critiqued by a panel of judges throughout the process, who helped narrow down the finalists.

The RT is proud of this event and couldn’t do it without the help of the NYC Parks Department, The Jamaica Bay – Rockaway Parks Conservancy, NYC Ferry, John Cori, whom year after year, has been a monumental help in organizing the contest, the many judges, and last, but definitely not least, our band of devoted readers and great photographers. 

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the contest. We are so impressed by your work and blown away with the more than 1,000 entries we received. Keep sharing your unique and artistic photos of the community’s beauty with The Rockaway Times. You all have so much potential and so much talent! So start getting your photos ready for 2020!

Photos by Dan Guarino and others.