Each year, it’s one of the toughest things I do — looking at images that have already been chosen as “local winners” (by the walk leaders themselves), and then going through the best shots from nearly 1,000 walks around the world and narrowing it down to just 10-finalists and one Grand Prize Winner.

If you’ve never judged a photo contest, I can’t tell you how challenging it is. Especially when there are so many great shots from every corner of the world, and you could make a case for over 100 or more to be at least finalists, but you only get to choose 10, and one Grand Prize winner.

I put a lot of careful consideration into my choices, and I anguish over them like you can’t believe because there are so many cute, clever, amazing, beautiful, funny, intriguing images, but in the end, you finally just have to make a choice. As hard as it is, it’s still a treat to get to view so many fascinating images from all over.

Even though this round of judging is over …
You’ll still get to make your own picks in our People’s Choice Award, and we have a Leader’s Competition, and I always list my ‘Honorable Mentions’ (images that are so good that even though they didn’t win a prize, still deserve recognition)  so while this is the official announcement of the Top-10 Finalists and the Grand Prize winner, the competition phase still has a few more components left.

Now let’s reveal this year’s Top 10 Finalists (in no particular order):

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By Christine Johns (St. Peter Port, Guernsey Photo Walk)
There’s a joy and timelessness about this photo that really drew me to it. I love how the store windows she’s running by are empty, so there’s really nothing there to draw you away from her expression and movement — it looks like she’s running for the sheer joy of running, which is an awesome thing. I also feel the black and white treatment really suits the image. Very nicely done.

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By Tamer Nour (Cairo, Egypt Photo Walk)
There’s such an interesting perspective and angle to this shot, and the contrast of colors between the cool outside and almost greenish color inside, just makes for a really interesting photo. Did the man walking away just come from inside that room? I think the shot creates that feeling that it does — that it’s somehow all tied together. I also love the walking gesture of the man — he seems like he’s happy — even strutting though we can’t see his face or expression. This one caught me immediately.

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By Navin Bahirwani (Hyderabad, Telangana India Photo Walk)
There weren’t nearly as many architectural images submitted this year as in previous years, and that might have helped this one to stand out, but I think the overall symmetry, color and design of the interior just makes it so interesting. The blue colors in the adjacent rooms really adds quite a bit, as do the two windows up high on either side. I love the bright outside of the window panes just above the left stairs. There’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye.

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By Sakhile Vanqa (Columbus, OH Photo Walk)
Such a simple shot, but very intriguing. If that one bird to the right of center wasn’t flaring its wings, it wouldn’t be as strong a shot, but it is, and so it is. I imagine the photographer took more than just this one shot of this scene, and perhaps he was drawn to this frame for some reason. It’s that interruption of the pattern that makes a difference, and the solid white background, and seeing the two buildings on either side — it’s a really simple but powerful image. Kudos.

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By Catherine Lewis (Grand Rapids, Ohio Photo Walk)
This shot is just so beautiful. The patterns in the reflection in the water are just gorgeous, and the whole image looks like a watercolor painting. Good eye to capture this subtle, beautiful image.

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By Genua Antonio (Livorno, Tuscany, Italy Photo Walk)
How did this simple photo of a dog make the cut? It’s because of the composition — it’s really on the money. The low angle, the position of the dog, the position of the people in the background, the placement of the horizon line, the leading lines in the barriers and the tile — it just all comes together in a very neat way. If you see this as just a dog napping, you’re not “seeing” yet.

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By Viven Balsomo (Singapore, Singapore Photo Walk)
When I first saw this image full-screen, I immediately liked it because of the composition and colors, but when I read the sign, it took on more meaning and a humorous slant as well. Great timing and well composed.

A shot taken during the World Wide Photowalk 2015, in Stockholm, Sweden

By Jonas Hellsén (Stockholm, Sweden Photo Walk)
This is a really nice use of an HDR effect without going over-the-top and keeping everything very subtle. This shows a real maturation of the HDR look and my hat’s off to the photographer for how their look has evolved. The bikes in the background help convey the timelessness of this image, which I really think helps to take it over the top. Nicely composed image; good subject; great post processing.

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By Chris McNaught (Boise, ID United States (East End) Photo Walk)
It’s hard to take a fruit shot that doesn’t look like a snapshot, but the combination of colors (dig the blue containers), and the composition of the scene is just a winner. Liked it the moment it appeared on my screen, and it kept making the cut again and again. Nice job.

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By Joel Schilling (New York, New York Photo Walk)
There are a lot of “shot through the store window” shots entered this year but none more captivating than this one, which makes you want to know what kind of store/business is this, and what are they doing. There’s so many cool things going on in this image, from the color to the round reflections in the window,  the out-of-focus versus in focus areas, but it’s the people that draw you into the story and make you want to learn more. Really a brilliant image on so many levels.

 

AND NOW: THE 2015 GRAND PRIZE WINNING IMAGE IS:

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By Mohammed ayman (Cairo, Egypt)
This shot pretty much has it all. The textures; the subtle light; the atmospheric effects of smoke (which help to enhance the light from above); the subject’s working while the image is being captured; the darkness that surrounds them on both sides — it’s a peek into a world seldom seen and I found it absolutely captivating. I kept coming back to this image again and again, and I want to know what it is they’re working on; where they’re working, and why. The post processing is also right on the money. You don’t notice it, so it doesn’t take away from the image and only adds to it. Just an outstanding image, and my pick for the Grand Prize Winner, which includes:

> Canon 5D Mark III camera body
> Canon PIXMA PRO-1 printer
> A full  1-Year subscription to the full Adobe Creative Cloud
> 1-year membership to KelbyOne.com online photography, Photoshop and Lightroom training
> Wacom Intous tablet and wireless pen
>$200 B&H Photo Gift Card
> Airport Essentials Photo Gear Backpack from Think Tank Photo.

Thanks to our sponsors
A special thanks to our Premier Sponsor, Canon, (who gave us some amazing Canon prizes) and to Elinchrom, KeepSnap, flickr, MeFOTO.com, Adobe Systems, Peachpit Press, Tamron, Wacom and B&H Photo — thanks for all your support this year and for offering such awesome prizes to our winners (we are very grateful).

Thanks to our Walk Leaders
It’s a lot of work, and a thankless job (and one made harder than usual due to some issues on our part, for which I’m so sorry), but who still did such an outstanding job once again of giving of their time and talents to make their local walks happen. Lastly, thanks to all the talented photographers from around the world who created such inspiring, creative, and beautiful work, and a special thanks to those of you who contributed to the Springs of Hope Orphanage — it means more than you know.

P.S.: We still have the unveiling of the Honorable Mentions (images that didn’t win a prize, but that are so good that I felt they needed special recognition), so make sure you stop by tomorrow 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. :)

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About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.

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