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21st Annual Ernst Peterson
Photograph Montana Contest & Exhibit

Submission Deadline: April 23, 2014 - Download Application
Exhibit Opening: May 1 at 6pm / Awards Ceremony: May 15 at 6pm

Ernst Peterson

Ernst Peterson

Renowned photographer and Montana native son Ernst Peterson was born in 1912 at a time when the shadows of the old West still lingered on the horizon. Peterson’s avocation began as a hobby when he received a Best pocket camera at the age of fourteen.

It was not until the end of World War II that Ernst, or “Ernie” as his friends called him, began taking his hobby seriously. “I had an idea that perhaps I could make a living from my photography,” he said. Indeed. Peterson began marketing his photos of the West, and his first client was his native state of Montana. Although many photos were used without his byline, he slowly developed a far-reaching reputation.

His real break came in 1953 when he was discovered by the editors of National Geographic, Colliers, The Saturday Evening Post, and Country Gentlemen soon followed. Major calendar companies sought his work, and corporations like Anaconda Company, Dow Chemical, and Montana Power Company used his photos for advertisements and year-end reports.

Dancing Natives
Photo by
Ernst Peterson

The Ravalli County Museum is the repository for Ernst Peterson’s photograph collection and archives. We honor this privilege each year with the Ernst Peterson “Photograph Montana” Contest. Please join us in celebration of this unique Montana artist.
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