October 2015 Results

The judge for October's POM Contest was Todd Korol, Toronto Star staff photographer (@toddkorol). Thanks to Todd and to those who submitted.

These are some of my thoughts in judging the images for October.
I understand you want to be photojournalists, storytellers and communicators. We do this through our photography. In most categories I often had no idea what was happening in your photographs. Your photos should tell a story of what is going on in the photo often they did not.

Watch your compositions, and clean up your backgrounds. There were wires coming out of people’s heads, messy backgrounds, other people just in the background. Find a clean angles, use a lens or aperture that will help get rid of unwanted items in your background. Move around and look for the best place to shoot.

Watch how you crop images. Often some of the crops that were used hurt your photographs. Quality seems to be a bit of an issue as well, I saw some very noisy photos entered leading me to believe that exposures were way off. Learn what your camera can and can’t do.

If you want a job at a newspaper you will need to show images that have story telling moments. Images that use great light. Sport photos with arresting high action clean backgrounds. Portraits that capture a moment and connect with the subject. Stay away from shooting skateboarders and concerts; we have all seen way too many of those images. Right now, newspapers need smart journalistic photographers that tell stories by capturing moments while using strong elements of composition and light.


1st- Although the quality is lacking in this photo and the crop is a bit off, it’s a funny moment and I get what was going on here.
(10/17/15) Toronto, ON - A young woman flashes an embarassed smile while walking past the Stag Shop on Yonge Street. Dancers hired by the shop strut their stuff behind her, causing noticeable reactions in passersby. The window display is part of a Halloween promotion for the adult store. Photo by Curtis O'Connor

2nd- I like the art photo, the woman in the mirror almost mirrors the painting of Kahlo. Too bad there was a guy in the background, that hurt the image.
MANHATTAN, NY (14/10/15)— A Freida Kahlo fan admires her work at the Musuem of Modern Art in Manhattan. Kahlo had apparently gifted this piece to a friend— along with the mirror— so that they could look at each other even when they were apart. Photo by Hannah Lawson

3rd- Lovely composition and light, but not much going on in the photo.

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (03/10/2015) – The internationally known Janette Sue Fishell was performing on the organ of the Bridge Street United Church in the honor of the 200th Anniversary of this congregation in Belleville. This organ is the biggest in the area between Toronto and Montreal as we can count 4000 pipes. Janette Sue Fishell had played a wide range of melodic repertoire as she founded that this particular organ was producing eclectic and romantic sounds. Photo by Audrey Caron, Loyalist College


1st- I like the quiet moment of the boxer, but not sure why part of his reflection was cut off in the mirror.
Belleville, Ont. – (22/10/15) – Jordan Graham takes a breather during his daily training at Loyalist Martial Arts Academy. Jordan is a Muay Thai fighter and at 21 has already accomplished a lot in the sport including fights worldwide. Photo By Isaac Paul.   

2nd- This was a good use of reflection, but the quality is a little shaky and I am not sure what is going on here.
(26/10/2015) BELLEVILLE, Ont. - Miss Lily of the Kingston Show Girls prepares for a Halloween themed drag show at the Belle Pub. Photo by Chris Donovan

3rd- A simple portrait, but again, no real emotion or telling sign of what is happening.
BELLEVILLE, Ont. (09/10/2015) - Michael MacGill is sitting quietly while taking a coffee and slowly warming up in the Nightlight Cafe in downtown Belleville. MacGill is living in Belleville since 2013 and lives there independently. He have suffered of rejections in his family and do not wish to make friends anymore as he finds difficult to trust people. Photo by Audrey Caron, Loyalist College


1st- I like the fact that you can see inside of their helmets.
KINGSTON, Ont (10/01/15) Will Sanderson (middle) a player for La Salle Black Knights trys to power through the Ernest town Eagles. La Salle won 27-7. Photo by Emma Gardner

2nd- A nice moment where you can see she is in pain and what is happening in the photograph
BELLEVILLE, Ont. (10.21.15) – Loyalist Lancers' number 7, Sara Way, is treated by the team's medic during their game against Fleming College at Loyalist College. The Lancers won 1-0. Photo by Marissa Tiel

3rd –The background is very busy, but the photographer captured the player getting away from a tackle.
SCARBOROUGH, Ont. – Robert Seguros, running back of the Jean Vanier Boys Flag Football team runs past his opponents from Pope John Paul II Boys Flag Football team at Mary Ward’s field in Scarborough on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. Jean Vanier went on to lose the game 6-13; they did not place in the event. Photo by Beatrice Serdon, Loyalist College


1st- A good reaction to an obvious election win.
OTTAWA, Ont. (19/8/15)—A raucous group of Catherine McKenna supporters celebrate her MP victory at the Richmond Road Clocktower Brew pub in Ottawa on October 19, the date of Canada's 2015 federal election. McKenna was running for liberal MP in the central Ottawa riding. Liberal nominee for the same riding in 2008— Penny Collenette (front, left)— is among McKenna's supporters, along with her husband the honourable David Collenette (left, second row). Photo by Hannah Lawson

2nd- Not sure what’s going on here, but it’s a nice moment
SCARBOROUGH, Ont. (23/10/15) - Amanda Walther, member of Juno-awarded group Dala, laughs as her bandmate Sheila Carabine plays the piano at Songs for Syria, an event held in Mary Ward CSS in Scarborough on Friday, October 23, 2015. The duo performed for free in an event that will support incoming Syrian refugees to Canada. Photo by Beatrice Serdon, Loyalist College.

3rd- A messy fire picture, photographer should have looked for a cleaner angle.
(10/02/15) BELLEVILLE, ON - Firefighters put out the last flames from an explosion that destroyed a home Friday afternoon. The explosion occurred after construction workers in the area struck a gas line. As of early Friday evening police had evacuated residents within three blocks of the home. Photo by Curtis O'Connor
The current standings for the 2015-2016 Photo of the Month Contest.
Points Awarded
345 - Charlie Vilagut 
310 - Hannah Lawson +150
275 - Beatrice Serdon +75
260 - Zachary Prong  
200 - Marissa Tiel +50
175 - Isaac Paul +100
160 - Andrew Johnson 
150 - Audrey Caron +50

150 - Chris Donovan +50
135 - Nakita Krucker
125 - Curtis O'Connor +125 
110 - Phil McLachlan
100 - Emma Gardner +100
50 - Elliot Gould 

September 2015 Results

The judge for September's POM Contest was Deb Baic of The Globe and Mail. Thanks to Deb and all those who submitted! (@Dbaic, DBaic@globeandmail.com)

Here are my choices for your POM. If anyone has any questions, feel free to send me a note. Keep in mind there were images that should have been in other categories and would have done well in the case they were in the proper category.


First Place – PRTSepHML2
This has great composition. The lines draw the eye to the subject framing her. I like how you positioned her with the light. The choice of having the subject look into the camera conveys her strength and determination. I immediately understood what the subject of the portrait was about. Well done 

TORONTO, Ont. (29/9/15)— Tari Ngangura, 21, a journalism student and one of the organizers of #AllBlackLivesMatter: Black Communities Take Back The Night event in Toronto on Saturday Sept. 26 shares about her passion for the movement #BlackLivesMatter. "My blackness in itself makes me a part of this movement. It's an issue that is very close to my heart: anti-black racism, and fighting that, and fighting police brutality and state-sanctioned violence. This is something I'm very passionate about, something that's very close to me because of my blackness."  Photo by Hannah Lawson
2nd – PORSepEJG2
I like this moment and the framing/composition of the performer. The subject is in the perfect position for the light to frame her face as she dances. 

BELLEVILLE, Ont (25/09/15) Misty Mac, A recent addition to the Vintage Showgirls Drag show gets into the moment during a performance at the Belle Pub. Photo By: Elliott Gould

 3rd – PRTSeptCEV3
This photo conveys a kind sadness about the subject. Life has probably been tough on this guy. There is grittiness about him and the moment. I think a slightly looser crop would work well for this photo.

LAVAL, Qc. (26/09/2015) - Mac Miller bleeds through the fog to uncover the ultimate beauty that is music, Sept, 26. Laval, Qc. Photo by Charles Vilagut


This portrait is interesting and almost there. It tough, you can’t always get a clean background but using a longer lens and shallower depth of field can help blur out the background a bit and help your subject standout more. You could have also focused more on her face. See this cropped version.

BELLEVILLE, Ont.  -- Newcomer drag queen Misty Mac, aka Brandon, backstage during the Showgirls Vintage drag show at the Belle Pub in downtown Belleville Friday, September 25, 2015. "At first when I was developing my look, I didn't really have the confidence to go out on stage or anything. So what I did was I went out to the straight bar in Cornwall. By getting the positive and the negative feedback I learned I could deal with anything, and that gave me the confidence to perform". Photo by Andrew C. Johnson

1st –NEWSepZVP2
Captured the tense interaction between protesters and police. A bit more dramatic, tense moment than 2nd place.
Cropped a bit too tight. 

TORONTO, ON (15/09/19) - Members of No One Is Illegal Toronto, an activist group that advocates for complete freedom of movement for all migrants and refugees, clash with security and police outside of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The protesters were attempting to shut down a rally by PEGIDA Canada, an anti-Islam group that opposes the allowance of Muslim refugees and immigrants into Canada. Photo by Zachary Prong.

2nd – NEWSepACJ2
Captured the tense interaction between protesters and police

TORONTO, Ont.  (2015-09-19) -- Protesters scuffle with police and Legislative Assembly security as they attempt to shut down a rally staged by supporters of PEGIDA, a German anti-Islam group that opposing the allowance of Muslim refugees and immigrants into Western countries. The PEGIDA supporters were forced to disperse their rally in front of the Ontario Legislature at Queen's Park in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Saturday September 19, 2015, when pro-refugee groups including No One is Illegal, organized a counter-protest. Photo by Andrew C. Johnson

3rd – NEWSepZVP3
Good interaction between protestor and the pedestrians on the street
You really get the frustration of the person stuck trying to get out of the situation

TORONTO, ON (15/09/28) - A member of No One is Illegal Toronto (left), an activist group that advocates for complete freedom of movement for all migrants and refugees, argues with atendees of the federal leaders' debate on foreign policy at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Sept. 28. The protesters laid out lists leading up to the entrance with the names of 20,000 dead migrants and refugees printed on them. Anyone who walked across the names to enter the debate was heckled and booed. Organizers said they wanted to call attention to what they see as overly-restrictive immigration policies and a lacklustre response to the refugee crisis. Photo by Zachary Prong.

This one could have been a contender for 2nd or third but I feel like it was cropped way too tight and you start to loose the context of what exactly is happening
But has the [potential to be a good news photo

TORONTO, Ont. (19/ 08/15) - Anti-racist demonstrators push up against Toronto police in efforts to shutdown the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA, who met in front of the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Saturday afternoon. The police struggled to maintain a line separating the two opposing groups. Photo by Nakita Krucker

This one was cropped way too loose. I see what you are trying to show the frustration of the people with the protest but it gets lost in the image
TORONTO, Ont. (28/9/15)— Various groups protest outside Roy Thompson Hall on Monday evening before the Munk Debates on Foreign Policy commences. Attendees of the debate queue outside the hall, packed side-by-side with angry and passive protestors alike. A list of dead immigrants— the size of the line of people outside the hall— has been set up by No One Is Illegal, one of the protesting organizations. People are forced to either stand in a ridiculously long and slow-moving line walk across the list of dead immigrants and risk being heckled by protestors for being disrespectful to the dead. Photo by Hannah Lawson


1st –SPTSepMBS2
Nice moment with the huddle of the team and the team name on the wall. Composition is great as well with the reflection in the floor. Some thing different than usual game action. It shows thinking outside the box.

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (24/09/15) – Loyalist Lancers gather around a circle for their pre-game huddle before they face the Ottawa University Gee Gees in Belleville on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. The Lancers went on to lose this preseason game, 119-72. Photo by Beatrice Serdon, Loyalist College.

2nd – SPTSeptCEV1
Nice action but mostly I like the composition and the rim lighting of the subject

BELLEVILLE, On. (16/09/2015) - Liam Just, a high school student from Belleville ollies out of a bank over a pole at the Belleville Skate Park on a warm evening Sept. 16. Photo by Charles Vilagut

3rd - SPTSepNAK3
Love that you got close but maybe a bit too close. I feel like I need to see a
Bit more of the action of rowing and that she is part of a team

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (22/09/15) - The Belleville Dragon Boat Club (BDBC) trains for their last race of the season on the Bay of Quinte with high hopes and excitement. Photo by Nakita Krucker

Good Action

BELLEVILLE, Ont. - (19/09/15) - Will Morris of Trent Excalibur holds possession despite the entourage of Loyalist players in the first game of the season played at Loyalist College this past Saturday. This trend continued throughout the game ending with Trent at 72 points, Loyalist Lancers, 5. Photo by Phil McLachlan


1st – FEASeptCEV3
The composition and repetition of the action in this image made it stand out.

BELLEVILLE, On. (22/09/2015) - Belleville Dragon Boat Club paddler Dominique Lutz keeps her eye on the finish line Sept. 22, as her and her teammates practice on the Bay of Quinte for their upcoming meet in Cobourg, Sept. 26. Photo by Charles Vilagut

2nd – FEASeptCEV2
This image needed to be cropped tighter so you can really focus on the dancer and her face. See crop..

TORONTO, On. (16/09/2015) - Flag dancers parade down Bloor St. during a Jesus Parade in Toronto Sept. 16. There were approximately 800 people at the parade all with their own groups praising Jesus. Photo by Charles Vilagut

 3rd – FEASeptCEV1
Nice sweet moment with what looks like a dad and son at the football field.

TORONTO, On. (12/09/2015) - Father and son watch as the University of Toronto Varsity Womans soccer team practices on their home field Sept, 12. Photo by Charles Vilagut

I think this should have been a News image and another example
Of outside the box thinking so I wanted to include it as an HM.

TORONTO, Ont. (15/09/28) - Attendees of the federal leaders' Munk Foreign Policy Debate at Roy Thomson Hall stand on the names of Alan, Galib and Rehana Kurdi, Syrian refugees who drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece. Activists from No One is Illegal, a group that advocates for complete freedom of movement for all refugees and migrants, laid out sheets of paper leading up to the entrance with the names of dead refugees and migrants printed on them. Organizers said they wanted to draw attention to what they see as a lackluster response to the refugee crisis from the leaders of Canada's major political parties. Photo by Zachary Prong.


In reading past judges comments I don’t think student have been taking this to heart. Go back and read the judges comments on providing information and what should comprise a multi-picture submission.

There we only two submission one of which had some merit, so…

While it is not really entirely clear what you are trying to say with this submission, the collection of portraits on this has potential. I would suggest working on a style for these, such as cropping square and going black and white… just a thought. See the crop.

Halie Mackillican, 20 - "That my dad had paid child support to my mom or she had financial help in another way."

Katlyn Anderson-Miller, 15 - "To live back with my mom."

Ramone Jimenez, 25 - "I grew up mostly in children's aid, I watched my mom struggle financially with 4 kids on and off. That was hard. Dad was an alcoholic and wasn't aloud to be around us. So as a result, my mom had a few nervous breakdowns, and she suffers from depression. I'd change that, and her MS. She was recently diagnosed."

BELLEVILLE, On. (27/09/2015) - Kyle Paige in front of his dad. "I wish I hand't had started doing drugs" says Paige, Sept. 27, 2015. Photo by Charles Vilagut

Jessica Moore 24 - "Probably having better better relations with my dad. Definitely."

The current standings for the 2015-2016 Photo of the Month Contest.
Points Awarded

345 - Charlie Vilagut + 260
260 - Zachary Prong  +135
200 - Beatrice Serdon +100
160 - Andrew Johnson +60
160 - Hannah Lawson +110
150 - Marissa Tiel
135 - Nakita Krucker +35
110 - Phil McLachlan +10
100 - Audrey Caron
100 - Chris Donovan
75 - Isaac Paul
50 - Elliot Gould +50

Summer 2015 Results

Our judge for summer 2015 entries was Scott Gardner, Photo Editor at the Hamilton Spectator (@Scottatthespecsgardner@thespec.com).

We split up this contest in particular to encourage participation from the new students and to show them that they can get their work seen by pros who are happy to critique their work.

As you can see by Mr. Gardner's comments, this sort of insight from a working professional is invaluable to newcomers such as ourselves.

Thanks to our judge and all participants, and keep submitting!

Here are the results, with the judge's comments:

First Year

First Year News:

Nothing awarded. There was only one entry and it was a photograph that I would not really classify as news. Regardless, the caption was necessary to understand what was going on in the photo. It’s one thing for the caption to expand upon a powerful image but if it is essential to understand the image, the photograph isn’t really conveying what it needs to. My only suggestion would be to perhaps key in on one of the faces for more impact. The loose composition detracted from any impact that may have been there. 

First Year Feature:
Only first place awarded. Beautiful image. Low key that works. A bit of a stretch for a photojournalism feature but sometimes we overthink this category and forget to include images that are just pleasing to look at. This one is just that. The other entries failed to have enough content to make them either visually or emotionally interesting. Feature is not just “anything that isn’t news or sports”. The lighting, composition, timing etc are what contribute to an eye-catching photograph. The other three entries didn’t hit the mark on this in my opinion.

SAINT-PAUL-D'ABBOTSFORD, Que. (21/07/2015) – On the late afternoon of July the 21st 2015, Mont Yamaska’s orchards was under another violent storm. In the province of Quebec, this summer temperatures were hard for fruit growers. With an average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius and a lot of rain, it was impossible this season for delicate fruits such as peaches to grow. Photo by Audrey Caron, Loyalist College

First Year Multi-Picture:
Nothing awarded. Again, only one entry but that entry didn’t tell the story. The captions were required for this. It is tough to tell a story with one photo. When the photographer has the option of using several images, it is usually easier to convey the story. This entry was just several images from an event that required the caption to understand what is going on.

First Year Sports:
Only one award. Decent action with decent timing and in focus. All elements of a decent sports photo. A great sports photo has peak action and excellent timing (being in focus is really just a given). The ball milliseconds before it enters the glove might have added some tension to the moment (did he catch it?) but also makes the photo easier and quicker to read. I had to look to see that there was indeed a ball in the glove. Also, don’t be afraid to shoot tighter, crop and then maybe crop again. The player is not off the ground so keeping his feet and the grass in the photo is not necessary. The photo is all about what  is going on from the shoulders up-the facial expression of the player and the hand making the catch. Lose all the other elements that only distract from the meat of the image. No we don’t all have giant telephoto lenses so get as close as you can and don’t be afraid to crop. (There is a wide range of opinion on how much to crop and it really comes down to personal taste. There are no rules barring “don’t ruin the photo”. I love to crop out ANYTHING that doesn’t add to the photo and that includes arms, legs and whatever else is taking away from the image in my opinion. Ask yourself “what is it that makes this photo interesting?”. If it doesn’t add anything, crop it out. Take a look at the now famous Bautista bat flip photos. There are some that come in tight on the flip and some that include the cheering fans in the background. Both excellent images with some different ideas of what details add to the photo and what details are deemed distracting).

SCARBOROUGH, Ont. (05/06/15) – Justin Chung of the Mary Ward Wolverines softball team catches a ball at Mary Ward’s softball field in Scarborough on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. The Wolverines went on to lose against the Falcons 12-7. Photo by Beatrice Serdon, Loyalist College.

First Year Portrait:
Strongest category for sure. There were at least three winning images to award.

A few general comments about portraits. Portraits aren’t just photographs of people’s faces. There needs to be some point to the portrait. The idea is to tell the viewer something about the person. The photographer needs to be in control and know what they are trying to say about the subject. Sometimes real emotion is present that can be captured which takes a keen eye and reflexes.  Sometimes the photographer is relied upon to create a situation that conveys who the person is with posing, props, location etc. (Mark Seliger is a master of this IMO).  

First Place: There was just something about the man’s face and expression and the tears that made this a compelling image. It appears to be a “real” moment which also makes it particularly effective. I get that he is at a tough spot in his life (which reading the caption revealed to be true). Nothing fancy-just real emotion framed tightly to make it easy to read.
(16/05/15) SAINT JOHN, NB - Saint John resident Royden Kenney mourns the loss of his personal possessions in an apartment fire on Coburg Street. He was particularly upset about a life-sized stuffed tiger that he referred to as his best friend. The fire was contained before nightfall and no one sustained serious injuries. 
Second Place: This was a close second. I liked the lighting which kept the elements fairly simple and clear to read. The use of the simple prop is also helpful. This just didn’t make first because there wasn’t as much emotion or sense of who this person is as the first place image.
Powassan, Ont. (15/08/09) - Musician Nolan Giesler takes a cigarette break and displays a well used pick guard from his first electric guitar. Photo By Isaac Paul
Third Place: I just like this character. The image captures his personality and blowing out the background a bit still allows some context without too much distraction.
Belleville, Ont. (15/09/06) - Resident Andy Karr poses for a portrait on Front street, Historic Downtown Belleville. Photo By Isaac Paul

Second Year 

Second Year News

First Place: This was the photo that jumped out at me immediately. It is not an in-your-face news photo but the photographer created a striking image with good context by keeping things a bit loose. The tiny helicopter shows the massive scale of the fire and the orange haze makes the image visually interesting but also keeps the things clean but keeping the contrast of the background a bit more subdued.
Port Alberni, B.C. - (06/07/15) - A 5 hectare fire increased by an estimated 30 hectares overnight on Dog Mountain, Port Alberni. Smoke has spread to cover the entire southern half of Vancouver Island. Cabins close to the water have been evacuated and police are not allowing locals access to their homes. As of 5'clock today the fire reached the bottom of the mountain. Photo by Phil McLachlan

Second Place: I personally hate covering politicians at events because the entire thing is a contrived event that they are trying to pass off as legitimate news and journalists lap it up by continuing to cover these photo ops (I’ll save my rant for some other time). However, the sharp photographer will look beyond the “famous politician doing something” that is offered as the photo and find some actual real moments in that pop up despite the best efforts of the PR flack to keep everything on script. This photograph is one of those. The forced smile of Mulcair contrasted with the confused look on the supporter’s face adds an element of humour as well as an interesting juxtaposition of slick and natural. IS it a comment on the ridiculousness of posing with a politician for a photo? Perhaps. The moment is unbiased and the viewer can decide. Either way, it is a real moment captured in the midst of a sea of posed, sterile photo ops. ( I should add that the photographer entered two other photos from the same event. The one of Mulcair on stage is an example of the sterile posed op. Just because the major media is covering this doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate news photo worthy of a contest. Great for paper but not one for a contest .Be careful that the subject is not driving the implied importance of the photo. A good trick is to imagine the photo with the famous politician or whatever replaced by joe blow. Is the photo still interesting or was it the fame and recognition of the subject matter that made it appear “big league”. When I started doing this, a LOT of photos in my portfolio got ditched. Don’t let big league event equate big league photojournalism. )

BRANTFORD, Ont.  (2015-08-27) -- NDP leader Tom Mulcair mingles and takes photographs with supporters as he drew hundreds to a federal election rally in Brantford, Ontario on Thursday, August 27, 2015. Mulcair's NDP party has vowed to oust incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper and is running on a platform of change ahead of the October 19, 2015 election. Photo by Andrew C. Johnson

Third Place: This is just a good bread and butter news photograph with all the elements to tell the story. Simple as that. It is framed fairly well and has many interesting elements to study that help tell the story. My only quibble is the victim is somewhat obscured by the standing firefighter. A second or two sooner or later and the firefighter might have moved and that distracting element would be gone. At spot news  it’s easy to let the adrenaline take over. You still need to be pay attention to the technical details (lighting, composition, depth of field, separation from background etc )of the shot to make it really sing. 

BELLEVILLE, On. (10/07/2015) - Collision on Cannifton St. N involving two people on a motorcycle and one woman in a car, July 10. The man and woman on the bike are in critical condition with the woman having life threatening injuries. Photo by Charles Vilagut

Second Year Feature:

First Place: Beautiful light, interesting subject nice slow shutter technique. Just a pleasing photograph to look at.

NORTH BAY, Ont. (22/08/15) - The attendant at North Bay's Heritage Carousel relaxes as he watches the last ride of the night go round and round. Photo by Nakita Krucker

Second Place: I’m a sucker for graphic feature photos and is just that. The use of the longer lens and the interesting lighting make a nice photograph out of a guy riding his bike over a bridge.

EDMONTON, Alta. (3/5/15)—A bicyclist is lit up by colorful LED lights while they cross Edmonton's high level bridge. The aesthetic lights were lit for the first time last summer on Canada Day  and were crowd funded by Light the Bridge. People could buy individual lights and have them dedicated; the movement was created in order to brighten up Edmonton's skyline. Photo by Hannah Lawson

Third Place: Nice composition using the flag to frame the couple in the window which is balanced with the similar smaller flag. Keeps things simple, clean and easy to read. Demonstrates a good eye and an ability to see what might work before it instantly presents itself and then make it happen.

TORONTO, Ont.  (2015-06-28) -- Spectators watch as the 2015 Toronto Pride Parade passes down Yonge Street in Toronto, Ontario. Pride is a weeklong event, culminating in a parade which is the largest of its kind in the world and draws thousands of spectators and participants to the city every year. Photo by Andrew C. Johnson

Second Year Portrait:

First Place: This photo stood out for several reasons. Interesting light and composition as well as the piercing gaze of the two subjects. Shooting through glass also gave an ethereal quality that made it all the more interesting. Lots of elements to look at.
CAIRO, Egypt (15/08/12) - Rania (right) and her little sister Miriam look out from the back of a bus window after a night of shopping in downtown Cairo. Photo by Zachary Prong
Second Place: Yes, this photo is a bit of a cliché but it is still done well. Decent separation from the background, nice lighting and a nice hook with the mirror image reflected in the water adds to the impact of the photo. Tight framing gets rid of extraneous details. A bit more fill on the left side of the frame and waiting until the marks from the goggles on the swimmer’s forehead were gone would have raised the bar on this one.
Connor Bissett, a Whitecourt swimmer, has qualified for the Special Olympics World Games 2015 in Los Angeles at the end of July. He will join Team Canada to swim freestyle, backstroke and relay events. Bissett was at the Allan and Jean Millar Centre on July 8, 2015 to train for the upcoming competition.  Photo by Marissa Tiel
Third Place: Interesting use of light and shadow to add some visual impact. The rich colors of the background and the dark shadows work well together to create an eye-pleasing palette and some mystery. The inclusion of the tapestry detail in the upper right adds some more information and also give the viewer some more visual material to examine. I found this distracting at first but eventually thought it actually added to the photo by giving the composition some balance in addition to the previous comments.
CAIRO, Egypt (15/08/17) "I want to go to live and work in Europe or Canada but they won't give me visa. Egyptians can't leave Egypt…Here I am very poor." Samaan Montiro is a 27-year-old Coptic Christian from Manshiet Nasser, a sprawling slum on the outskirts of Cairo. His neighborhood is known as "Garbage City" and the people who live there are called Zabaleen, literally "garbage people." Most of the residents live amongst the enormous amount of trash they collect and recycle from across the city. Photo by Zachary Prong.
HM: Gave this an honorable mention because it just nicely lit and composed. This type of lighting can be tricky and the photographer pulled it off well. Simple as that.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, (18/08/2015) - Dakoda McMillan, a construction worker in Alberta, watches the sky pass on his was to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic for a well deserved vacation. Photo by Charles Vilagut
Second Year Sports:

First Place: Nice moment. Nice timing. Nice lighting. Nice composition. That’s a winning combination.
Joaquim Fontane Maso of Spain throws his boat around in Garburator during semi finals at the 2015 ICF Freestyle World Championships on the Ottawa River on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. This year the event took place at the Garburator feature, near the town of Beachburg, Ont.  Photo by Marissa Tiel
Second Place: The low angle makes for a cleaner composition with a wide angle lens which adds some reference as to where the action is taking place. Good composition and good peak action.
BELLEVILLE, On. (15/07/2015) - Justin Magee ollies huge over this gap on Pinnacle St. Belleville, July 7. Magee has been skating for well over 10 years and has no intentions on stopping anytime soon. Photo by Charles Vilagut
Third Place: This image has some great action and a great facial expression as well-two qualities that make for a top notch sports photograph. The only thing that lowers it to third is the framing which includes the two out-of-focus heads which can’t be cropped out and do nothing but distract from the meat of the photo.  The photographer has focus and timing down for sure on this one.  Unfortunately, the one  aspect of sports photography that is rarely discussed but can make or break a photo is position. Knowing how to put oneself in the “right” spot to allow all the right elements to shine is what separates great sports photographers from the rest of the pack.  Better positioning might have helped this photo. That’s a big “might” since we don’t really know the layout of the venue or available shooting positions. Kudos to the photographer for continuing to shoot even if it didn’t frame up great in the viewfinder. Always better to come away with something decent than  gambling on spectacular and coming up empty handed.
MISSISSAUGA, Ont.  (2015-08-10) -- Moises Batista of team Brazil is knocked over after attempting to score during a wheelchair rugby match against Colombia at the 2015 Toronto Para Pan Am Games in Toronto. Wheelchair rugby, known for its violent collisions, is an event for the first time ever in the Para Pan American games in Toronto this year. Photo by Andrew C. Johnson
I absolutely guarantee that some of you will be thinking that my choices were totally out to lunch. “How could that photo win over this one? Is this guy clueless?”. Herein, lies the nature of contests. It is all so subjective. What I like in a feature may not be what someone else likes. The same goes for composition, lighting, etc etc. Photography  is such a subjective endeavor. Don’t get hung up on contests. It’s a good way, especially early in your career, to gauge where your skills may be in the general scheme of things.  But, if you put all your self-worth as a photographer into how you do in contests, you are risking stifling your own creativity. You may begin to doubt your vision because some judge didn’t happen to be into it. You may start to copy the type of photos that seem to win contests and fail to develop your own style. I’ve seen numerous trends in the contests over the years (black and white, tilted frames, cropped out faces blah blah blah). Somebody did it for a reason and won a prize so now everyone does it and thinks it automatically makes a good photograph. Learn what makes a photo effective and be able to articulate why (because it won first prize is not an answer). Why is black and white a good tool here? Why should I shoot wide as opposed to tight? If I tilt the horizon, what does that communicate?  You will end up building a skill set beyond the purely technical and be able to apply those skills on your own style of photography and be able to communicate what you want to with your gear. IF the viewer gets something from your photo, it is a success regardless of what some judge thinks. You just have to find your niche and pursue that and you will be happy with your work.

The current standings for the 2015-2016 Photo of the Month Contest.

Points Awarded

150- Marissa Tiel
125- Zachary Prong
100- Andrew Johnson
100- Nakita Krucker
100- Phil McLachlan
100- Audrey Caron
100- Chris Donovan
100- Beatrice Serdon
85- Charlie Vilagut
75- Isaac Paul
50- Hannah Lawson