Lee Canyon announces the jury for its inaugural Play Forever Photography Contest. The jury will review submissions accepted now through October 15. Environment and Community are the competition’s two submission categories and Lee Canyon’s Play Forever sustainability program’s pillars. Photos will be judged on technical merit and storytelling, and subject matter. First-place winners take home $500 in cash, and their images will be displayed in Hillside Lodge. Second through fourth place finalists will also receive prizes. Details are available at www.leecanyonlv.com/play-forever-photo-contest.

Finalists are announced on November 1. Finalist images will be featured at Lee Canyon’s Pray For Snow event at Skye Canyon, Saturday, Nov. 20; winners will also be announced at the event. Finalists’ pieces will be auctioned off to benefit the Play Forever Fund.

The Play Forever Photography Contest jury includes:

Aaron Mayes: Aaron has been a photographer in Southern Nevada since the early 1990s. Before working with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Libraries Special Collections and Archives as the Curator of Visual Materials, Mayes photographed campus life, social events, athletics, and promotional images as part of UNLV Photo Services. He started his career at the Henderson Home News and later spent nearly a decade at the Las Vegas Sun. Mayes was born in Las Vegas, a fifth-generation Nevadan, grew up in Reno, and spent much of his summers with family in Henderson.

Susan Mowers is an art director who has worked in design and advertising for over 20 years. Although she has worked in various industries, Susan has found her home with Travel Nevada, where she loves dedicating her talents to promoting her home state. Growing up in rural Nevada, Susan is passionate about preserving Nevada’s lands and mitigating climate change, especially supporting regenerative agriculture and sustainable ranching initiatives.

Jim Seely is the marketing director for Lee Canyon. While earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UNLV, Jim worked part-time as an instructor at Lee Canyon. Having also worked as a freelance and studio artist in Las Vegas, he first joined Lee Canyon’s marketing team to work on design for special events and programs. Jim appreciates and understands nature’s monumental impact on art and contributed his work to Lee Canyon’s specially curated 50th-anniversary art show and silent auction in Downtown Las Vegas. In 2014, he was appointed the resort’s marketing director and has been driving Lee Canyon’s brand story through visual storytelling.

Brad Swonetz is a photographer based in Las Vegas and Southern California. He likes to travel, surf, rock climb, run, do yoga, and hang out with his family. Brad studied sculpture but has had a successful career in photography. His corporate clients include Deutsch, Google, Proactiv, Sony, Verizon, Zappos, and others. Media clients include Outside Go, Vogue, InStyle, Sunset, The Atlantic, Travel & Leisure Golf, New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Garden and Gun, Golf, Business Week, and many others.

Wade Vandervort is an award-winning photojournalist and commercial photographer. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is a recipient of the Peter Lik Scholarship for Excellence in Landscape Photography. Wade currently works as a photographer for Greenspun Media Group, publisher of the Las Vegas Sun. Las Vegas Weekly, and Las Vegas Magazine. He covers local and international artists, fine dining experiences curated by master chefs, Nevada conservation efforts, and moments like the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests.

Images submissions for the Play Forever Photography Contest must have been taken in Spring Mountain National Recreation Area during any four seasons in any year. There is a $5 entry fee per image, and photographers can submit a maximum of 10 photos. Entry fees will be donated to Lee Canyon’s Play Forever Fund that supports local nonprofits through a partnership with the Nevada Community Foundation. More information is available at www.leecanyonlv.com.



Stephanie Forté is a storyteller, connector, and problem-solver inspired by the great outdoors and energized by the transformation of people, communities, and brands. She is a longtime advocate for public lands, outdoor recreation, and women’s health.

She spotlights people and organizations creating meaningful change in her writing and award-winning PR strategies. Stephanie also mines her life for stories, and her published essays have helped others navigate challenges and to feel less alone.

Stephanie Forte