Picking just 10 finalists and one Grand Prize winner out of the thousands of wonderful images from around the world is one of the toughest jobs I do all year. Remember, each image I’m judging has already been picked as a local winner by their walk leader, so the 1,000+ images I’m looking at have already been vetted — they all won best of their local walk.

I keep narrowing the field down and narrowing it down until I got down to 67 images I really liked, and then I finally had to get down to just those 11 (whew!). Because I take this so seriously, it takes a lot of time, thought and careful consideration and every single image gets viewed, and reviewed and considered and reconsidered. There are just so many intriguing images that getting down to just a handful is really daunting, but at the same time, getting to admire so many beautiful photos from all over the world is also a real treat.

Now it’s time to reveal this year’s Finalists and Grand Prize winner
Don’t forget, you’ll still get to make your own picks in our People’s Choice Award, and we have a Leader’s Competition, and my Honorable Mentions (revealed in a special video posted here tomorrow), so while these are the official announcement of the Top-10 Finalists and the Grand Prize winner, the competition phase still has a few more components left.

OK, without further ado….drum roll please….

Here are the Top 10 finalists (in no particular order):

By Anil Kumar (Bangalor, India Photo Walk)
What a wonderful combination of color and composition. I love how all the different shades of red work so wonderfully together but beyond just the color, I think the way the lines all come together in this shot to create a really graphical look just made it really stand out to me. I love how the gap between the stairs themselves and the bottom of the railing create a zig-zag pattern, and it’s like someone added a big rectangle on the top right corner just to balance the whole photo. To find all this in the scene and compose it the way Anil did takes a really great eye. Nicely done!

By Zain Hakim (Halifix, Canada [Northwest] Photo Walk)
When I see this portrait, it really makes me want to meet the guy in the picture, and I think that says a lot. I love his smile, I love the lighting, the color is wonderful and even his pose —- off to the far right and leaning — has great gesture. The composition of the shot, with so much blue on the left, really gives it a dynamic look. It’s very simple, very engaging and the colors just work so well together. Nice work Zane!

By Leonard Rall (Miami, Florida USA [Midtown] Photo Walk)
What a great capture! The color is spot-on fantastic; her position within the frame versus the image in the background is just too perfect, and her gesture during her leap into the air fits so perfectly. In fact, it almost looks like she’s part of the illustration in the background. Plus, she just looks so pleased, almost as though she knows it’s going to make a great image. It’s just a really well-crafted photo all the way around.

By Trevor Morris (Frederickton, Canada Photo Walk)
This photographer did a marvelous job of taking something that isn’t beautiful by nature (mushrooms) and displaying them in a new light to create a beautiful, moody photo. I love the atmosphere surrounding the image and the way he composed the shot. The lighting is subtle, and the low angle almost gives you the feeling that you’re peeking into a tiny world of life you rarely see.

By Per Kronvold (Vejle Syddanmark, Denmark Photo Walk)
What a captivating scene, with bold colors, great geometric shapes, and image that begs more questions than it answers. Are these two sisters? Friends? Twins? I love the matching hair color and I just want to know what they’re doing there, what they’re talking about, and what comes next. Just a great, simple, clean image and the kind of photo that makes you want to know more, which I love.

By Srinavin Kumar (Chennai, India Photo Walk)
Of course the lighting is beautiful, the texture is beautiful, our subject is beautiful, the composition is interesting with the choice to leave so much “white space” above her head (once you know the rules, you can break them at will), but it’s her expression that reveals the real beauty of this shot. There is a grace in her gesture that makes you want to know her, to hear her story, and learn about her spirit, sorrows and joys. A beautiful photo of a beautiful woman.

By Yann Montiqné (Grenoble, France Photo Walk)
Sometimes it’s really hard to describe why you like a particular photo — it has a certain something that’s hard to define, but when you first look at this, it’s a baseball court and a soccer [futball] field, and the colors are all muted and it’s just a bunch of lines, and leaves, but somehow it all just works and I love it.

By Waheed Akhtar (Ras Al-Kahimah, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Photo Walk)
The simplicity of the shot, coupled with the perfect choice of black and white, really makes for a compelling, long exposure image. That little tip of the dock (I’m assuming it’s a dock) was just enough foreground to make it interesting without taking away from the bigger picture. Very nicely done, indeed!

By Michele Miller (Fort Wayne, Indiana USA Photo Walk)
I love an image that really makes you want to be there, right there, at that moment, and this is surely one of those for me. I love the colors, the low perspective she used to frame the image, and the wonderful leading lines that make you want to stroll along this path and enjoy the fall colors. It’s one of those images that makes you smile when you see it and I think that says a lot.

By Gerald Grote (Braunschweig, Germany Photo Walk)
I love how the left side of this image looks so lush, crisp and colorful, and the right side looks foggy  with muted colors, almost like she’s looking into a different world, even though she’s technically standing in the same place. I love her position in the frame, the overall quaintness of the image, and the fact that she appears to be one of the Photo Walkers just puts the icing on a very clever cake.

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AND THE GRAND PRIZE WINNING IMAGE IS:

By Raul Policarpio (Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon Hong Kong, China Photo Walk)
This is just such an intriguing image to me. Any of these images could have been chosen as the winner, but I found myself coming back to this one again and again. It really seems as though a very real, very simple, probably very routine moment of this shop keeper’s life was captured as turned to art as he went through his daily routine. The colors are normally vibrant, but appear muted here. I love how the lines in the trap intersect and play off the vertical lines on the wall below it, and the whole image seems like a small slice of a bigger story. There’s a beauty to this image that is very subtle and kept me coming back to it. It’s the kind of image I would loved to see framed, large, hanging on the wall of a gallery, and hopefully maybe one day it will be. Congratulations to the Raul for this wonderful capture.

A Big Thanks!
A special thanks to Canon, our Premier sponsor (and provider of amazing Canon prizes) and to all our sponsors for their gracious support and prizes; to our Walk Leaders who did such an outstanding job once again of giving of their time and talents to make their local walks happen, and to the wonderful photographers from around the world who created such inspiring, creative, and beautiful work.

P.S.: Tomorrow I’ll be posting a video here on the blog with a look at these images, PLUS the unveiling of the Honorable Mentions (images that didn’t win a prize, but that are so good that I felt that needed special recognition), so make sure you stop by for that. Don’t forget: Although this phase is over, we still have the People’s Choice Award to pick, and a special competition for your Walk Leaders, so there’s more to come. See you here tomorrow.