In the 1950s, his photos appeared in many national publications, including National Geographic, Field and Stream, Newsweek, and the Saturday Evening Post. The late Ernst Peterson had a photo studio in Hamilton, but his subject matter was mainly outdoors. The Ravalli County Museum is the repository of his 22,000 prints, slides and negatives. His medium was black-and-white, with hand-tinted color photos.

Every year, the museum holds a contest to encourage others to try for excellence in photography. The "Ernst Peterson Photograph Montana" competition is accepting entries now. The categories include Scenic, Humans, Animals, Beyond Montana and Idiosyncratic, which is wide open for creativity. There is also a unique "Iconic Re-creations: History Buffs & Shutterbugs" section, where you are encouraged to create a photo that mimics a classic work of art or photography, including Peterson's photos. Samples of his work are at the Ravalli County Museum website.

The deadline for entries is flexible this year. Earlier publicity put it as January 17, however Museum Director Tamar Stanley said that entries will be accepted after that. But all entries need to be in by the end of January, when the contest submissions will go on display. Applications are at the website and at the museum at South 3rd and Bedford in Hamilton.

Also going on display are some of Ernst Peterson's large mural-type hand-tinted scenic photos that were installed in public locations to show off the beauty of the valley.

ernst peterson
Ernst Peterson in his "outdoor studio." (Photo courtesy of Ravalli County Museum)

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