Meet Camp Cardinal Photo Contest Judge Laura Messer

Our judges are ready for your pictures that celebrate your memories camping and RVing in lovely Camp Cardinal in Hayes. Your picture could win you up to $1,000 in the first-ever Camp Cardinal Photo Contest, so we’re introducing you to the judges one by one. We have lined up a panel of 5 esteemed community members who will judge the submitted photos on originality, technical excellence, composition and overall story.

Remember, winners will be announced through Instagram and Facebook and on the website on or about Dec. 1, 2023.

Judge: Laura Messer

Her bio in a nutshell: Laura Messer is a Destination Development Manager for the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Virginia regions, including the Eastern Shore. Laura has been with VTC since Feb. 2022. Previously, Laura spent nearly 14 years with James City County working in tourism marketing and economic development where she coordinated two photography contests. She holds a master’s from Arizona State University in film & media studies and a bachelor’s in communication with a focus in public relations from George Mason University. Laura, a Hampton Roads native, loves entrepreneurship and sharing good news.

What Laura looks for in a photo: Authenticity is one of the most important parts of a photograph to me. I want to see the unique elements of a place or person – that something special that makes me want to go visit to see the same thing or to experience that same place so I can feel the same joy that person is feeling. With authenticity comes storytelling, which is so intertwined with a good photograph. There are technical components that are important, too, but authenticity is the biggest thing I look for in a good photograph because that authenticity tells the story.

I also love a photo that makes you stop and say “Wow, where is that?” especially when you’re scrolling through social media. I’m a notorious Instagram scroller, so I love a photo that makes me pause and check out the details of where a photo was taken. I’m always adding places to my travel bucket list!

What Laura enjoys about Virginia outdoors: I love the variety that the Virginia outdoors offers – from the mountains to the ocean and everything in between, there is beauty throughout the Commonwealth. The sunsets in Virginia are particularly special at places on the water like Camp Cardinal. Another aspect is the four seasons that Virginia offers. I love that Virginia is always changing with Mother Nature.