N.C. Zoo photographer's work wins national photo contest

Posted July 7, 2009 11:14 a.m. EDT

— Tom Gillespie, a photographer and public relations specialist at the North Carolina Zoo, is one of 10 winners in the 2009 USA Today “Picture America” national photo contest, the zoo announced Tuesday.

The contest was co-sponsored by USA Today and the U.S. Travel Association, whose Discover America campaign is aimed at attracting foreign visitors to the United States.

The 10 finalists’ photos will appear on, the first official website to promote tourism in the United States, and on

The “Picture America” contest invited readers to submit images of America that captured the essence of the country and best represented it for international travelers.

From photos sent in from across the country, USA Today readers were asked to pick their favorite 500 photos out of all the entries. Then, three judges picked their 10 finalists from those 500.

Judges included Mick Cochran, director of photography for USA Today; David Griffin, director of photography for National Geographic magazine; and Bob Krist, three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers “Travel Photographer of the Year.”

Another of Gillespie’s photos was a finalist in Smithsonian Magazine’s 5th Annual International Photo Contest in 2008 and was displayed at the Smithsonian castle in Washington.

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