During our earliest discussions about NextAZ and in our quest to articulate the initiative’s spirit, we realized we needed an image. We knew that the right photograph could say more about NextAZ than a dozen paragraphs.

So we launched a contest and invited Arizona’s amateur and professional photographers to submit original images capturing Arizona’s spirit, beauty, and potential. In addition to a $500 cash prize, the winner would also receive a $150 gift certificate from contest sponsor, Tempe Camera.

We asked for photos with bright, bold colors, reflecting hope and potential while celebrating Arizona’s distinctive character.

Over 250 extraordinary entries were submitted, and one winner was chosen: Russell McGuire, an amateur photographer from Scottsdale.

The Long Road
“The Long Road” by Russell McGuire, 2014

McGuire’s photo, “The Long Road,” presents an unmistakably Arizonan sunrise, but also captures the state’s grit, majesty, a sense of adventure and endless possibility.

The image shows the sun coming up over the mountains to start a new day. The road is long and we aren’t quite sure what’s around the bend, but we can’t wait to find out. To us, the image invokes that itch one gets as an Arizonan, every so often, to get in the car and get some of that long road out in front of you. We also appreciated that the road itself is imperfect, having been patched and repaired over time.

To us, the image says, let’s go forward, let’s go big, let’s illuminate new opportunities.

We have an exciting journey ahead. We hope you’ll join us.