To get a picture of just how much snow fell on Lake Tahoe in January 2017 you’d need NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal; and then another to stand on his shoulders; and one more. Two African elephants stacked one atop the other would come close.

Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 member Nicholas Rains and three of his IBEW brothers standing on one another’s heads would still have been buried three feet from view.

From New Year’s Day to February 1, more than 25 feet of crystal mountain powder fell out of the sky, burying everything, including the electrical grid connecting South Lake Tahoe’s 21,000 residents to the rest of the world.

“The storm was so violent,” Rains said. “The trees were so snow-loaded, it was so cold out, your nose was purple, any exposed skin was hurting so bad.”

But, he said, this is why being a lineman is the best job in the Brotherhood.

“Everyone made the best of it,” he said. “We were really loving our job.”

Rains image of that moment created an avalanche of support that won him the 20th Annual IBEW Photo Contest.

Over the last 20 years, hundreds of images capturing the life and work, the people and places of the IBEW have been sent to first the Journal and now the Electrical Worker. They show the artistic vision, skill and of our members behind the camera and as a group, are a document of their varied lives and interests.

That includes their lives away from work. June 9 was the first time Portland, Ore., Local 48 members joined the city’s four-mile Grand Floral Parade. The parade has a “Salute to Service” section dedicated to those who have served in the U.S.’s armed forces.

“Our idea was to have a group of tradeswomen marching near veterans,” said Christina Daniels. Nearly four dozen women, about 10 percent of the local’s female membership, dressed up as the iconic motivational World War II poster model commonly known as “Rosie the Riveter.”

The Rosies were going through a pre-parade warmup at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum when Daniels snapped this shot of an enthusiastic Jessica Hill, a Local 48 member who, at the time, was gearing up to finish her apprenticeship and has since been a regular fixture at the local’s meetings.

 “This event really opened things up for us,” Daniels said. “It helped us connect with members we don’t usually connect with, and it really jump-started their participation.” 

This year’s third place winner shifts back into the cold. When Boston Local 103 member Joseph Kelly snapped this picture of journeymen wiremen Robert DeLeo, Steve Illingworth and Gary Rowe they were 40 feet off the ground at the Salem Harbor Energy Center. Kelly said it was close to 20 below zero with the wind chill when he asked his three brothers to turn towards the bright winter light and flash a smile. His popular picture brought a smile to hundreds of voters. 

The first Honorable Mention captures the end of the day and 30-hour shift that started long before that day began.Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 members Jordan Skarda, KC Nancolas and Kevin Claggett were on their final job, repairing an open jumper on a pole in the foothills near Cayucos, Calif. As the sun went down and the helicopter lifted off, Skarda scampered up a hill to try and take it all in. The California sun – peeking between the fog and the clouds setting Whale Rock Reservoir aglow – has a way of bewitching people.

The final award goes to New York Local 3 member Joe Sergi who worked for more than a year on the Throgs Neck Bridge, the city’s easternmost connection to Long Island. Sergi’s picture of brothers Ernest Cordero and Todd Kim upgrading the bridge’s security system shows a side of New York that isn’t often seen. No skyline; just the tree line. No blacktop or chrome; just blues, whites and greens for miles, with only Cordero’s taxi yellow hardhat a not-so-subtle reminder of the city hustle a few miles away

We hope these images have inspired you to pull out your camera at work or play. Not everyone within sight of a Pacific sunset or fairy tale winter kingdom a mile above the sea, but everyone knows someone who can turn to the camera and smile. We look forward to seeing what you can do in the next 12 months.

Look for next year’s photo contest to be announced here in the Electrical Worker later this Spring.