The judging part keeps getting harder
Imagine trying to pick one winner…from nearly 1,000 walks all around the world, and every image you’re looking at has already won a contest just to be considered — each image is the winning image from a local photo walk. It’s so challenging and frustrating to narrow it down to just 10 finalists and one Grand Prize winner. There are so many images that deserve to be in this list, but narrowing things down is what I have to do today, and I’m delighted to present to you this year’s 10 finalists and our 2018 Grand Prize winner.
Note: If you want to learn more about the judging process, and how I came down to picking these images, scroll to the bottom of this post.
Here are this year’s Top 10 Finalists (in no particular order):
By Janos Leo Andanar (Dapa, Philippines)
There is such joy in this image. Some of the children are aware of the photographer, but none of them are posing, and the backlighting is awesome, and the color is vibrant without being over the top — it just all came together for this shot. The photographer probably took dozens of shots of this scene, but the timing and position of the kids on top makes it a really special frame. Very well done.
By Marco Van Apeldoorn (Haarlem, The Netherlands)
It’s tough to make a really captivating shot of reflections on a car, but this photographer pulled it off big time! Great color and composition, and a really intriguing image. This would make a great desktop background image.
By Elousagun (Candon, Philippines)
This is just such a cool shot, and the outfit our subject is wearing just fits so perfectly into this scene. I loved it the moment I saw it. If I had taken this image, I already know what I would title it. “Top shelf!” Such a cool shot.
By Prapoport (São Paulo, Brazil)
This one should be used in college courses on composition. The placement of the subject in the frame, and the colors surrounding our subject, and the arrows on the ground and above our subject, and the way the buildings are leaning in from the fisheye lens — this is really a special image. Great, great eye!
By Alfie Narisma (Doha, Qatar – Pinoy Shooters Club)
This is just a really intriguing shot, and I’m not usually drawn to photos of people taking photos, but in this case, it just works. Also, I’m usually not of fan of the flat-looking post-processing that’s going on here, but it so perfectly suits the shot — it really helped take an interesting image and move it up a big notch.
By Jing Esteban (Downtown Boise, Idaho, USA)
How beautiful is this? The light, the colorful, the movement — it all comes together in this gorgeous shot. Very nicely done!
By Debora Suterko (Claremont, California, USA)
This is such a peaceful, beautiful, timeless image. So simple — yet it makes you want to not only see what’s inside, it makes you want to be inside, with its art on the easel and fresh flowers in your foreground. Beautiful light, very nicely post-processed. Great capture all around.
By Susan Chapel (Belcrum Breda, The Netherlands)
I know this “person standing there looking at art” has been done many times before, but I think this one is particularly intriguing for a number of reasons. I love how our subject shows the sheer scale of the image, and I love that it’s a woman looking at these images because it really makes you wonder what she’s thinking about them. Compositionally, not only is she in the perfect position, but the way her blond hair pops on that dark background immediately draws you to her. There’s more going on here than you see at first glace. Top job.
By Jer-Sandel (Bulacan, Philippines)
Of course, the color is amazing, and for a silhouette to really work, you have to immediately be able to identify what the shapes are, and you certainly do here, but the gesture of the little boy on the left — that takes it over the top. Such a great photo.
By ValeriaBD (Copenhagen, Denmark)
I kept looking at this image again and again, and I kept coming back to it. The reflections are just so amazing here — this photographer has a really great eye for composition, balance, and for taking something simple and making it really captivating.
And the GRAND PRIZE WINNER is…
Who wins all the stuff below, and more…
Is this image:
By Omar Shebl (Alexandria, Egypt)
There is just so much going on in this simple shot. A living legend of photography, Jay Maisel says it in his seminal book “Light, Gesture, and Color” and this shot has it all. The light is so appropriate without calling attention to itself. The color tones, from the color of their skin to the dominos to the board to the table to the floor — they’re almost too perfect, and both player’s gestures are so opposite of each other that it gives you a hint as to each players personality. Add a wonderful shooting perspective and you feel like you’re right there in the middle of all it. This was an instant stand-out to me, and I knew from the start the photographer had captured something very special. I love it.
How I do the judging
I look at every single winning image from all the walks around the world. I do find that the great shots jump right out at you, and I make those as picks to go back and look at again. I was able to get down to 106 shots after going through all of them. That’s a big cut, but a very long way from 10 finalists and one winner.
I try not to be swayed simply because an image was taken in an exotic location or somewhere I’ve never been or never seen — I wanted to pick a photo, simple composition or not, easy to capture or not, post-processed brilliantly or not — that is simply special. Maybe it’s the right light, expression or mood, or story or a combination — I search for whatever that certain something is that makes me come back to it again and again — and I want to give every image fair and open-minded consideration.
What makes this process harder is that these are already curated. Each image was already judged and chosen as a “winner” by the local walk leaders, from nearly 1,000 walks. Narrowing it down — it’s just so hard, and you second and third-guess your choices along the way because you want to give every image a fair shake.
You could easily make a case for hundreds of images to be chosen as finalists, but you only get to choose 10, and one Grand Prize winner, and you finally just have to make a choice. It is literally one of the hardest things I do each year, but also one of the most rewarding because I get to see so many great images during the process. I hope that gives you a little insight into my judging process.
Even though this round of judging is over …
We still have our Leader’s Competition winner coming next week 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.
Thanks to Canon USA and all our sponsors
Special thanks to our Premier Sponsor, Canon USA, (who gave us some amazing Canon prizes) and to Adobe Systems, Peachpit Press, Tamron, 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, so let me be the first to say “thanks.” We couldn’t do any of this without our volunteer walk leaders around the world, who do such a great job of creating the walk; working with the walkers, and making the whole thing happen on the local level, and that means a lot.
My personal thanks to our own Jeanne Jilleba, who did an amazing job again this year of keeping the communication flowing, working with the leaders and managing walks in nearly 1,000 locations all over the globe. It’s a very challenging job, but she does it like a boss and I’m very proud of the job she does (even better this year than next). Thank you, Jeanne — we are all indebted for all your hard work and dedication to making the photo walk a success.
Lastly, thanks to all the talented photographers from around the world
who created such inspiring, creative, and beautiful work, and special thanks to those of you who contributed to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya — it means more than you know.
More to come as we reveal more winners next week.
All my best,