As I sit here in the early morning hours, I can’t tell you what a challenge it’s been choosing the winner, and runners up for contest part of my Worldwide PhotoWalk.
I was so impressed with the winning entries from around the world, and honestly, you could make a case for nearly any one of them being the winner, because what I was looking at was a collection of 237 local winners from around the world. These photographers images were already good enough that their local leader had chosen them as their best shot from their city, and now I was looking at nothing but winning shots. It’s harder than you’d think.
I’ve been a judge for many photo and design contests over the years, including my stint for years as one of the judges for the Photoshop World Guru Awards, and I had to lean on some of what I learned in that role. One thing that always stood out to me was now a particular image would “hit” everyone at the same time. For example, when we judge the Gurus, we sit in a darkened room and bring up the images on a projector screen one by one (with the entrant’s name hidden from view). As an image would appear on screen, usually you heard silence. Every few images you’d hear one of the judges say, “I like that one!” or “That’s a nice shot” but mostly it was silent. Then, an image would come up, and almost simultaneously, the whole room would go, “oooooohhhhh.”
It wasn’t always the sharpest image, or the one that was technically perfect, but it was always a photo that had some sort of emotional impact. Whether it was color, or texture, or composition, or whatever it was, it had it enough that the whole room was moved at the exact same moment to say, “ooooohhhh!”
So, when I was going through these images, I waited to hear my own “ooooohhh.” They’re all great photos, but I wanted the ones that made me personally go, “ooohhhh.” Each time I saw one of those, I marked it as a potential runner up. I could only choose 10 runners up (each of which wins a copy of Lighroom 2), and of course, I marked more than 10, so I then had to back through those and find out which ones moved me the most.
Then it came down to choosing just one image from that group to be the Grand Prize Best of Show. I thought from the very beginning that one single image would literally stand out from the crowd, but unfortunately it just wasn’t that easy. As I said, you could make a case for any of them, and I knew that no matter what I chose that, because this is such a subjective thing, that other photographers would say, “He chose that one?” because I’ve done that same thing about the winning choice in other competitions I’ve seen. But at the end of the day, I had to make a pick.
So, how did I make that pick? I asked myself this, “If I could only choose one of these 10 runner’s up to have framed and hang on my wall, which one would it be?”
For my Grand Prize winner, (drum roll, please) I chose Suhaimi Abdullah’s shot from the Singapore walk, of a bird flying overhead an industrial-looking street. To me, everything from its composition to its colors told a story. It looked almost surreal, and at the same time, totally believable because we’ve all been in a concrete jungle and have been suddenly reminded of nature and it’s inclusion (or exclusion), and I thought this image just portrayed that beautifully. In the end; I just couldn’t stop looking at it, and it is the one I’d want hanging in my home or office. For whatever reason, it just spoke to me.
So, congratulations to Suhaimi, who takes home the Adobe Creative Suite Premium, Lightroom 2, a $500 B&H Photo Gift certificate, a Wacom tablet, the Peachpit Book Bundle, and MPIX prize package, and more!
Here are my comments about the 10 finalists (who each won a full copy of Lightroom 2; courtesy of Adobe Systems):
(1) Hakon Senderland’s photo of the guards in Oslo, Norway (above)
I really like the reflection in the car’s window; the motion of the guards, and particuarly the way one is looking at the camera. I loved the dark moody sky, and the way all the colors in the photo worked so well together. I also like the fact that you could see past the reflection into the car itself. Just a very clever shot.