Thank you to all the photographers that shared their photos showing people and animals sharing our planet in this innovative and creative photo contest. A special thanks to friend and professional photographer Gino Barasa for his collaboration as a guest judge. Gino Barasa in an Austin Texas based photographer who loves stretching the truth with his work. He borrows from reality and uses it to create stunning images of the familiar.

’ll start by letting you know what was going through my head as I was trying to choose the images that would make up the finalists.

#1 is always going to be emotion. A great image is one that has nothing in it to distract me from the emotion and the story that it is telling.

#2 – The processing. Heavy handed processing is one of the things that distracts from an otherwise good image. Good post processing shouldn’t be easy to pick off.  If I can tell where you dodged or burned an image, that’s not good.

#3 – Organicness. I am not sure that is even a word, but I’m looking for images that seem real and authentic and not too staged.  I know that we stage a lot of our images, but they shouldn’t LOOK staged.

#4 – If you really feel the need to watermark your images, do it in such a way as that it doesn’t detract from it. There was one image in this batch that I really liked a lot, but there was a humongous watermark right over the main image and that ruined the image for me.

So with that in mind, in no particular order, here are the images that made me look at them longer.

“home2030″ by louisekellieskorpil

“Natures beauty” by robbuttle

“IMG_2252 copy” by nakul

“Butterfly on Baby’s Foot” by btrot60

“Dirty Paws” by brianamorris

“josie & max 20 6 13 x1400″ by rachelstandring

“Baby’s Best Friend” by GingerGeorge

“Eyes On” by SeeVee

“Simple Act Of Kindness” by juliebowser

“Making Friends ” by Hippie22

“Snail” by sarahdarvill

“Spring Babies” by lisaholloway

“The Parting” by JessicaDrossin

“Sadhu and Monkey” by antonjankovoy

“Best Friends” by neilbarr

“Violette and Peeps” by skyelightphotography

These were the images that made me stop and look again. There were others that were really good, but the huge, distracting, horribly placed watermark got them ousted. Some had really good ideas but the processing was too obvious for me. One image in particular “Angels Among Us” by Spider1987 was a really cool image, but this contest is about people and animals sharing the planet, and this image seemed more about the “angel bubbles” than anything else. Very cool image, but what is story of this image? That the diver was fortunate to have an angel bubble with him to keep him safe from the shark? I ended up spending as much time thinking about that than looking at the image.

So of the final images that I pulled out and listed which ones really stood out for me?

“Natures beauty” by robbuttle (a girl, a bear, and a butterfly)

“IMG_2252 copy” by nakul (2 camels, the sun and a dude)

“Butterfly on Baby’s Foot” by btrot60 (Just like it sounds)

“Simple Act Of Kindness” by juliebowser (a guy and some birds)

“Making Friends ” by Hippie22 (a thumb and Yoda)

“The Parting” by JessicaDrossin (a boy and his rabbit)

“Best Friends” by neilbarr (a man and his dog)

“Violette and Peeps” by skyelightphotography (A girl and her chicken)

All of these images caught my eye and held up under scrutiny. They started a story in my head just by looking at them, and there was nothing in the images that distracted me away from them.

All of these could have easily been the winner depending on who the judge was of the contest and what internal baggage he or she brought to the party.  But this is a contest, I was the judge, so I must pick a winner!

Amateur Winner

"Great image. What a view. The way the dog is looking attentively at his owner really took this image to the next level. Great story and subtle processing." - Gino Barasa

Grand Jury Winner

"Talk about telling a story! What is happening here? The title seems to suggest that the bunny is going down the rabbit hole and leaving the boy behind for some reason.  But why? Whatever the reason the boy doesn’t seem to think it’s a good one. What a look on his face! The image itself has a bit of a timeless feel to it. The oversized shirt, the ragged hair and nothing else in the image to tell you what time period this takes place. There is a watermark, but it’s not slammed in the middle of the image and it’s not so big or bright that it detracts from the image. The lighting is perfect and the processing is invisible, which is how it should be. Great Story. Great emotion. Great Image!" - Gino Barasa

Runner Up

"Every time I looked at this one a smile broke out on my face. I couldn’t help it! Everything about this image was so well done." - Gino Barasa

Runner Up

"I really liked this image quite a bit. The butterfly seemed a little sharper than the girl even though they have the same relative DOF, so that made me wonder if it was photoshopped in, but since I couldn’t tell I had to give the photographer credit that it was an actual moment caught on film, or pixels I suppose, and what a great moment." - Gino Barasa 

People's Choice

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist

Finalist