Time for YOU to vote for the last three finalists in the M9 contest!

VOTING IS CLOSED!

The last three finalists are Helene Marie Pambrun, Jonathan Cook, and Jacques L. Gudé! Congrats!

Ok guys, here it is. So far I have revealed 12 of the 15 finalists in the Leica M9 give away contest.

To make it even more fun, exciting and suspenseful  I decided to put up 10 more of my favorite selections here for YOU to vote on. Starting now you can vote for your ONE favorite. On Monday Feb 14th at 9am Phoenix, AZ time I will stop the poll and the top 3 vote getters will go in to the finals with the 12 already selected. THEN, those 15 will go to Heidi Klum and Rankin for a final vote for the winner and 2nd place winner.

This contest has been intense, fun, exciting and suspenseful. As with ANY photo contest there will be those of you who disagree with my choices but hey, all of these are worthy of the top spot IMO. So great job to all! I did my best to choose the 15 that spoke to me and told a clear story but it is hard when you have 50-60 great entries to go through. Believe me!

Ok, no more blabbing…the time has come! On to the final step. The 10 below, to me, are equally as good as the ones in the top 12 already so your help is greatly appreciated! Review them and vote in the poll at the bottom of the page.

As for the poll, it will only count ONE vote per person, per IP address. The poll uses IP address as well as other methods to avoid cheating. Sure you can keep voting, but only one will count. Again…There is no way someone can sit there and click away all day as the vote will only register once so make sure you vote for your top pick, only one vote counts!

Good luck to all 10 but only THREE will make the cut! The official top 15 page is HERE!

CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO VIEW THEM IN MUCH BETTER QUALITY!

#1 – Jonathan Cook – “Guy Jones My Arm Was My Pillow”

#2 – Juha Saransalmi – “Finding the power of music”

#3 – Matthew Miller “Operation Mend”

#4 – Eric Poe Miller – “Gaby Reaching for the Finish Line”

#5 – Stefan Viehbacher – “The Journey Of A Goose”

#6 – Steven Caddy – “Too Early For Goodbye”

#7 – Aaron Hardin – “First Snow Penance”

#8 – Dan Moruzan – “Pig & Pork”

#9 – Helene Marie Pambrun – “Some scars can’t be hidden”

#10 – Jacques L. Gudé – “Dreaming”

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233 Comments

  1. Seems most of the photos that made it were those that produced gut wrenching reactions.

    #6 by Steven is truly hard hitting (and so is #5 by Stefan and #8 by Dan, though to a lesser extent). All photographers well knew that in order to have a chance, their photos needed to stand out, and some chose disturbing images to make their point.

    I understand the sentiments of other folks who think that these images are exploitative because the goal is financial gain, and it is tough to figure out if the photographers care about their subjects, or they’re in it just to win a camera. If these images were shown along with an article about the subjects, it would cast a different light on them. Who knows.

    As it stands, the interpretation of the viewer is that any kind of photo would do here, just make sure that the image is disturbing and shocking (Can you make the viewer vomit?). But that’s the nature of the world we live in. No wonder Jerry Springer has such high ratings.

    On a separate note, #5 and #8 are nothing new. See the winner of the Sony Photography awards 2010 (sheep at abattoir; warning, image is very graphic).

    The other images are also hard hitting, but in a different way. #3 by Matthew has an especially positive, uplifting spirit though really hard hitting.

    One way to capture the many sentiments in the future would be to have negative votes as well (kind of like the “dislike” button on youtube. And the winner would be the entry with the most net positive votes.

    Good luck to everyone.

  2. I supposed that may be it would have been a traffic accident in a city which would have caused some
    leg damage an so that is why it is named “scare..” what do you think about this idea??

    I’m sorry but my english is not excellent !!
    By,by

  3. PARDON pour le précédent message interrompu.

    Je supposais,donc, que l’histoire du #9 pourrait être la suivante :

    ” un accident de la circulation dans une ville qui aurait pu provoquer un important traumatisme
    d’une cuisse d’où la CICATRICE ”
    Qu’en pensez-vous les amis

    salut à tous

  4. Bonjour,
    en ce qui concerne le #9 je pense que son histoire pourrait être la suivante :

    ” un accident de la circulation d

  5. Hello Greg,
    thanks for your replies! It seems you couldn’t agree with me 100% at the end but that’s ok, it’s not what you or anyone else is expected to do!
    You may be right about yourself and others but I still believe my consideration is true for most of the entries. Hopefully I’m wrong! 🙂
    My entry was quite meaningless ( perhaps not too convincing as a photo narrative and certainly with no artistic value of sort), so I had no real hopes; but I chose it among the ordinary casual shots I took and unfortunately it was a poor month. I didn’t run out to stage something interesting, even if it was clearly and explicitly allowed from the beginning, simply because it doesn’t belong to my photography. In fact the thing I’m the most happy about is that after several years, even just shooting most of the times with a compact, I realized which kind of photographer I want to be.
    For my mediocre photo set look at here Steve's contest: "Different curiosities" but if you want to see what I consider to be up to my best, check out my blog please http://istanbulphotonotes.blogspot.com/

    Cheers,
    Filippo

  6. After thanking Steve and Seal for this competition (I entered), I would like to share a few opinions that intend to address the main issues discussed till now.
    Obviously most of the photographers played smart churning out catchy images that were able to strike the right note in a general audience; as we know, a dramatic tone (in the topic and/or in the post processing) appeals to the mass. Therefore it’s not Steve’s responsibility if the best entries were like that.
    Second, while I believe this contest pushed people to shoot more, I hardly think it helped any creativity at all; on the contrary, in my opinion, the close deadline had a bad effect pushing most of us towards conformism and lack of originality. This is perfectly normal since any photographer, even the greatest one, can just take a small bunch of great shots per year. So, if we meant to see some art, the format should have been different, allowing entries produced in the last year (for example); everyone would have chosen the best of their best and I’m sure we would have seen less dark subjects and overall much higher quality.
    But complaining towards Steve is ungenerous indeed since he provided the contest for free and he had all the right (and the necessity!) to manage it according to his point of view.
    About the amount of the post processing allowed, I agree with whom thought that adding any object or figure to a photo was forbidden under the rules as expressed originally.
    About the importance of the title, I believe it was a necessary but complementary element: we could use it to describe the obvious happening in the images of course, but much more interesting was using it to drive the understanding of the viewer towards one of the possible interpretations that most of photos and photo narrative allow. I find ridiculous, as strongly advocated by someone, that the title had to be a plain descriptive element according to which judging the validity of the photo story; it’s not reasonable under an artistic point of view and it’s not logic because we can’t expect everyone to read the pictures in the same way.
    That’s all I wanted to say and I hope I could do it in a clear way (sorry for my English, it’s not my first language) and respectfully even if perhaps controversially.
    Many thanks to Steve again!

    • Filippo, I find your post as one of the most reasonable and sober in this thread. I agree with you 100%!

      It would be nice to see your entry, if possible.

      Greg Shanta

      • Sorry, Filippo, there’s one thing on which I may not agree with you completely. It’s about creativity. It is true that had all of us have a chance of using our previous work we would have shown more quality here in this contest. So, according to your idea this is a sign of suppressing creativity, if I understood you right. Yet, the creativity does not necessarily have to be evident in the final output alone, i.e. in some perfectly presented photographs.

        To me, the creativity, first and foremost, has to be present in the search for that perfect image, the creative contemplation: more so than in actual execution of certain photo-idea. The idea, as a child, must be conceived, nurtured in pregnancy, born in agony and then well-groomed to be presented to the Society. In all those stages the creativity insures the quality of the final output. And the contemplation stage is often more fun than its result. That is even more evident if you follow my ‘child’ metaphor.

        What I saw here in this contest, and certainly have experienced myself, was the boost of creative imagination. That’s, for me, the most important achievement here. I’m not so concerned about my actual submission as I am more thrilled by the opportunity to stimulate my creative juices.

        It’s OK not to win the prize (of course, I wouldn’t mind winning). We’re all in the gain here. In my particular case, I was mostly inspired by the diptych format. I never thought of photo-stories in terms of this format before. But now I’m all fired up about it. I think it’s a wonderful challenge and the most natural one, both visually and narratively. Difficult, though… But that makes it even more exciting.

        I dare to assume that for many participants this contest will bear real fruit in the future. We’ll see many inspired photographs here on Steve’s site that will be affected by this event. The First and Second prizes will soon go to their respective winners but there is also a Grand Prize embroidered in the fabric of this competition that is to be issued separately to each participant.

        It would be great to have Seal’s camera, no doubt! Not because it costs so much or because he is a celebrity. He seems to be a vary nice guy (I never met him personally, though) and he is a passionate photographer. This camera was in good creative hands and it would be great to have it. It would also be nice to have the Second Prize, although personally I wouldn’t know what to do with it… But the Grand Prize I’m talking about is much more precious and has a longest-lasting value for one as an artist and an individual. The Grand Prise of…. (drumroll, please) INSPIRATION.

        Cheers,
        Greg Shanta

    • I co-sign with just about everything you posted flippo. Especially the title part, i think if your judging the full narrative the title is another element that has to hint at what you story is about and not blatantly tell you the obvious.

  7. i like #9 cause it was shot with an iphone and the tones and story is quite deep. almost a secret revealed only through glimpses from the reflections. good job.

  8. #9 in the lead?

    Seriously, this flickr-style “seen a million times” pic is leading? Someone has a lot of “friends” on facebook or whereever it seems.

    I voted #6. Although personally I wouldnt want to win something with pictures like these. Feels wrong to me.

  9. I really love #1. I’m not sure why #9 is getting so many votes though. I guess a pretty face trumps all, especially on the internet.

  10. If the proportion of gory / forced sad themes amongst the finalists follows the proportion ot those topics amongst the entries one would think most people who read this blog lead disturbingly miserable lifes.

  11. I wasn’t going to post further on the contest, but I don’t get where everybody is coming from insisting that there’s a bias in this selection or the first 12 toward the dark or as Petr puts it “sad or heartbreaking”.

    Of the first 12, several are outright triumphant and I’d rate 6 upbeat 5 down and 1 neutral (the old school set I take as more nostalgic than either up or down) but even if you rate it downbeat it’s balanced.

    Of these 10, at least 5 are upbeat (if you allow as how the reconstructive plastic surgeon is making people’s lives better after a disaster and therefore positive). I count the goose and pig as neutral since they’re more fact of life than tragic… so long as you’re neither goose nor porker, that is 😉

    I think these selections are balanced among as many different emotional states as life itself. And if the current voting trend continues, one neutral, dignified portrayal of a homeless man, one iPhone shot sad mystery, and one ode to joy and hope will go through. And if that is the case (or if Gabby pulls above her weight in a late rush, Steven Caddy’s heart wrenching set catches up, or Aaron Hardin’s hilarious 1st Snow Penance crashes the party), what a STRONG 15 it will be. I don’t envy the task Heidi and Rankin will face, but whatever winner they choose of these contenders will be worthy of the prize.

  12. btw. this is the first time i found my self regreting that i haven’t seen or experienced anything sad or heartbreaking in january…strange world that is

  13. To be honest i think #10 was the best…

    I mean don’t get me wrong every picture here was compelling and amazing… however look at the Jacques’ photo… you see it and truly believe it is a dream world that little girl is in… Simple storyline that was executed perfectly…

    Jacques’ picture is the only one i saw and said “wow” to…

  14. hmm, just read Bradley’s posts… he’s got a point. who are these people? Perhaps there is no line between pro, amateur and hobbyist. IF this turns out to be a bunch of pro’s batling with eachother, which it almost appears to be, what kind of contest is that actually? Thanfully atleast i’ve learned a lot from what is up here.

    • Hank,

      Yes, there seem to be couple of established photographers but what difference that makes? Majority of finalists seem to be just hobbyists. End at the end of the day it was open contents for everyone to enter so it’s not like we have not know that from the start that there will be few of pro’s around.

      Not sure if someone have seen the website from Jonathan Cook, but there is a video behind his entry which is speaks for itself. Check it out people.

      Vlad

      • I used FxIF to view the the details for each image and there is a pretty wide variety of cameras used, Leica M9, M8, big Nikons and Canons and smaller cameras, point and shoots (like my son 🙂 ) Which shows all types entered.

        My third hand Canon 5D is mid range for the camera models used i reckon. That might change if i win thought….. 😉

        -Dan Hartwright.

          • Yeah, looks that way. As I said there were all kinds of cameras used. You get get FxIF free and then just right click on any image to get the details.

            I know this as i really messed up with Exif stuff in lightroom once – all the images i produced had “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” somewhere in their exif and it appeared on every images as the title 🙂 Its still does on some of my old images…. I found the easy way to view images Exif is to use the FxIF plugin. It makes it interesting as i wander the web checking out who used what to take what and so on….

            For image number 1 at the top here, FxIF shows this:

            Camera Maker: Leica Camera AG
            Camera Model: M9 Digital Camera
            Lens: Leica Apo-Summicron-M 75mm f/2 ASPH.
            Image Date: 2011-01-12
            Focal Length: 75mm (35mm equivalent: 75mm)
            Aperture: f/5.7
            Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250)
            ISO equiv: 800
            Exposure Bias: none
            Metering Mode: Center Weight
            Exposure: Manual
            Exposure Mode: Manual
            White Balance: Auto
            Flash Fired: No
            Orientation: Normal
            Color Space: sRGB
            GPS Coordinate: undefined, undefined

            Pretty cool eh? I know sometimes its funny when a camera manufacture launches a new camera and the promotion shots are done on another manufactures gear 🙂

    • most professionals arent good photographers so dont worry about it, they are good marketers and good accountants.

  15. Ja my opinion would be that Steve himself is still in some darkdays… and why so many stories are so grey and solemn. For sure though, the compositions equate the level of where the images are rated.
    But one thing I’m not following, who votes for what to be in the top 15? We vote for the next 3 to be in the top 15… doesn’t matter what steve says at the top, its not equally distributed. 12 he picked, 10 are selected for us to pick for the top 15…. all or none, or equal weighted in some way.

    • Hey Hank, Im actually in very happy days right now and the sets that were picked were chosen due to the fact that they were the best that were submitted for this contest. There are already 12 selections in the finals. The ten you see here are not finalists. Your vote will determine which three out of these ten join the top 12 to make the top 15. The voting ends Monday morning. Once the top 15 are in place, the two judges will pick the two winners. Thanks.

  16. Entry #9 is beautiful, tells a story, has nice post work, is overall a really nice set of images. Very pretty work. All of the images here are nice for different reasons, and some of the simplest ones draw me the most. Number 5 was my runner up for this group I think, the post processing is int to my personal liking though but i like the witty nature of the shot.

    • I´m sorry, I dont get the story. And if I want “beautiful” I go to Gettyimages. There are already millions.

  17. I just connected several dots and found myself asking this question – Is almost every finalist a pretty established / or even professional photographer with their own website and great equipment already?

    On the one hand, it makes sense if that’s the trend at least, since they get more practice. However it ends up, the best should and will win, but it would also make me feel good in a different way if the person wasn’t just “adding to their collection” or lining up the M9 next to their 1Ds Mark III or whatever. I’m not saying that will happen, but it would be cool if the camera opened some doors for someone who has obvious talent but couldn’t afford a good camera, or something like that anyway.

    By the way, separate question I would be really interested to know, how many people entered the contest who are under 18, or even under 25 and if any made it to the final (this isn’t self-serving, I’m 26). It would be cool to know an approximate number of young people trying for this (besides the camera tastes good kid haha)

    • To follow up on this Steve- When this is all over it would be cool to get some general demographics posted of who entered- countries, ages range and average (approximations of course you don’t have to sit there with a calculator for 1300 entries).

      • Hey Bradley,

        I think that info would be interesting to see once the winner is chosen too.
        I’m not a professional photographer… I’ve been doing photography as a serious hobby for a number of years now and love (love love love) rangefinders. Bought an M8 years ago when financial days were brighter and the only way I could hope for one now would be to win it. I hope to win this particular one because I’ve been a fan of Seal’s for quite a long time. I admit I have a few cameras, but nothing in the real high-end category except for the M8, which is now almost 4 years old and gotten a lot of use.

        I think it’s would have been pretty unlikely to have people without at least a decent camera joining this kind of contest on this kind of site (though I’m sure there might have been at least a few). Followers of camera-review/photography sites tend to be the ones a little more serious about photography (I’d guess), and the kind of people who have one decent digital camera already (at least). And considering Steve’s site is fairly popular in the rangefinder group (and Leica), there’s probably quite a few of us already shooting Leica (film or digital). My only hope is that the winner isn’t someone who will immediately stick the camera up on ebay, but who will love it as much as Seal has himself loved it.

        I’m 41 and live on Long Island. Art Director by trade. Artsy-fartsy middle class New Yorker who is passionate about photography 🙂

      • I’m a 31 year old Australian. Gear-wise I have a six year old, second-hand 350D and the old Mamyia 645 with a slightly borked lens that I used for the shots above. I’m a designer (mostly web) by trade. Photography fits in the gaps between home life, chasing a three year old and racing bikes.

        Bradley – the official Leica blog shows that there are a lot of superb amateur photographers. In many ways amateurs can afford to be more flexible than pros.

        • I totally agree! If it’s not your job you’ve got some extra freedom. Deadlines kill. That many of the finalists are professional hobbyists / hobbyist professionals, or whatever, makes sense though I guess.

          My comment is just a note that several opted out of the contest because they could afford or already had an M9. At least one finalist already has an M9 and even used it for the contest. If you follow the links of some of the finalists’ sites some have *really* extensive camera collections, of really nice cameras. It wasn’t the impression I got of the spirit of the competition, but then again, the top 2 winners haven’t been picked ;-). And if one of the top 2 has the mother-load collection, or #1 already has an M9, I will be curious to see how they gracefully address that to the community (perhaps give Steve their cameras for a new competition 😉

          • There was not a rule stating that someone couldn’t shoot with an M9. If someone used an M9 titanium and they have a great set of images worthy of the top 15, they would be in. The competition was clear. A contest that anyone could enter, using ANY camera (yes, even an M9) as long as they told a story in two photos.

            The top 15 were chosen because of their ability to tell a story (the last three chosen by all of you but I was disappointed there were not more votes) and the winner will be picked not by what gear they used but by the photos they shot and the stories they told.

            No way I would limit entries to those shot on point and shoot cameras or small sensors or whatever. This was a free for all, open to anyone in any part of the world using any type of gear they wanted to use!

            Enjoy! May the best images win!

          • Totally Steve- the winner should be picked regardless of gear and of course the rules were clear that gear had no place as a variable. It’s not your place to limit entries and no one suggested as such. How you did it was perfect.

            Some just chose not to participate solely on the grounds that they already had an M9, or that if they won they would donate their gear to you. That’s their decision to make and I, for one, appreciated it.

        • This post is in response to comments by Dan Hartwright, Bradley, and Jacob.

          The question seems to be: What kind of person that already owns an M9 could use an M9 for this contest to win an M9?

          My answer can be found in two places. In the link below and in my words. I urge you to visit the link first, because my words are so inadequate. The link is the story of Guy Jones, the gentleman in my photos, in his own words (it’s 4.5 minutes long). http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2011/01/20/my-arm-was-my-pillow/

          I’m a grad student studying photojournalism at the University of Missouri. Yes, I own an M9. Yes, I own a nice lens. Yes, I did buy them myself. Yes, I did save a long time for them. Yes, I did use them for the images selected. No, I am not rich. No, I do not own a “collection” of cameras. My camera and lenses are tools and are used and treated as such.

          As an MA student I completed a two-week “bootcamp” at the Columbia Missourian newspaper in January 2011 and during that time I convinced an editor to let me spend a week with Guy Jones, the gentleman in my photos. This week was very touching for me and I left my time with Guy wanting to help him more.

          The audio slideshow linked above has been shown at his shelter and I’m told they have experienced a surge of volunteers each night since. Apparently, Columbia is also considering developing an additional shelter and I’m told the audio slideshow played a small role in that process.

          Both of these things help Guy indirectly but I want to help more directly. If I am so lucky to win (A HUGE IF in this field of competition), I plan to sell my M9, keep the contest M9, and donate 50% of the proceeds to help Guy. I have talked with the church that provides the shelter and other community agencies and am hoping to have local donations match anything I could contribute. The goal is to help create some sort of fund that could help with food, housing, and job training, and make a long-term difference in his life.

          Jon

        • My post wouldn’t fit! PART 2

          BOTTOM LINE: I did not plan to mention any of this because I did not see the relevance at this stage or any earlier stage. All my “plans” are inconsequential at this point. My biggest frustration with even having to respond to this is the distraction it creates from the works of the other fine photographers on this site.

          BOTTOM BOTTOM LINE: There are 14 other amazing photos that I am up against, each with as good or better a chance of winning as I have.

          By the way Dan, congratulations on your spot among the finalists, your pictures are quite endearing. I have a 7-month old son myself and he has not yet grabbed my camera but that day is coming! Bradley, I visited your linked gallery and you seem to have a passion for photography—I wish you the best as you move forward. Jacob, I was unable to find any of your work but you seem to have a keen sense for injustice—this is a good trait for a photographer to have and to use wisely.

          Best,

          Jon

  18. I’m truly humbled (and quite surprised) to have made it this far, and I thank you, Steve, and of course the incomparable Seal (aka ~6), for the tremendous generosity and the opportunity to play along with so many talented shooters. And to Steve Caddy, my heartfelt condolences. I cannot imagine the pain you and your family must have felt at this horrible, and I pray that the photographs you’ve captured will always remind you of the amazing human being you and your wife had the privilege to have been blessed with, if only briefly. I, for one, was deeply moved by your work, and am glad you and your wife allowed us to share this deeply personal moment with you.

    With great respect;
    Jacques

  19. Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all who have participated, enjoyed and learned from this contest! There is no way I can respond to each and every comment on these pages so wanted to write one universal one to say I appreciate EVERYONE who comes here!

    As of Monday the top 15 will be up and within 2 weeks after that a winner will be announced. The contest was/is a huge success and I appreciate ALL comments, good and bad. Im happy to say only 2-3 comments were moderated here, due to personal attacks which are not tolerated. One reader was banned for multiple personal attacks. Not bad for hundreds of comments and so much controversy 🙂

    So thank you all who come here on a daily basis to participate, thanks to ~6 for the M9 donation and thanks to the official Judges, Heidi Klum and Rankin for their time in choosing a final winner!

    Steve

  20. I took these photographs, along with many others, to understand what was happening to us and to make the incredibly short time we had with Thomas solidify into something we could hold on to. The photography of our lives is full of beautiful, happy, joyful narratives, none of which qualify for submission here. I’m sorry to say we didn’t have a lot of joyful happy times during the submission window.

    When these images came back from the lab I saw that they captured honestly our love and grief and loss. And I wanted to share that — it’s important to me to share that. I cannot share these photos with friends, or with my family. I’m still not entirely sure why. But I know how photographers document their lives, and knowing how many of you must also “photograph to understand” l decided (with my wife’s blessing) that this passing opportunity to share was right. I hope that as photographers the camera is there for you when life twists back upon you, that it helps you see yourselves and those you love in a way that helps you understand and process it as it has for us, and that sharing the images you make can help you to celebrate and heal.

    Rich Owen, I the photographer you read about is performing a beautiful and compassionate duty in giving people without our photographic means to participate access to the process I’ve just described.

    To those who said they understood why I submitted these photos because they have lost a child, or known someone who has: thank you. I have the greatest empathy for you and it helps in some small way to have heard from you here. I know you know that too, so thanks.

  21. I still stand by my comments, it’s my own personal view and expression at the end of the day, and this being a public forum/website we are all entitled to say what we feel and see. Congratulations to the finalists I do not feel in any possible way sad or angry for not making the top 15 but rather happy to be part of such a great contents! It was great actually sitting with my wife and thinking what to do before releasing the shutter!

    Once again cangrats to the finalists and let the best story win!

    My Wife’s entry can be seen at our website.

    http://www.foto-terranova.de/

    Cheers
    Vlad

    • “we are all entitled to say what we feel and see”

      Sure, of course you are, just don’t forgot that these are actual people you are talking about.

  22. I am very excited for all those whom have gotten to the final stage. I might not understand every story, but thats okay. The photos were viewed through Steve’s eyes and if he sees it, fine. After all, he announced before that HE would pick the photos and there shouldnt be any fussing about his choices. At least he was gracious enough to give us a chance to vote on the last ones. Thats more than he had offered before. It would be interesting to see what everyone entered. I posted mine now in my blog and explained a bit why I chose what I chose. I am a total amateur, but what counts to me, is having fund taking photos. Of course I am flattered when someone says, nice shot. But its not what counts to me. I noticed on Flickr, that many join groups, basically, just to get comments on their photos. You join a group for beginners and see photos there, that you think are fantastic. And when you go to the persons personal stream, you can tell right away, fancy equipment, fantastic photo shop skills. It irks me when people do this, cause why would they post in a beginners group, when all their photos are so well, so, professional like.
    I dont shoot photos to get comments. My photos are personal to me. Views and glimpses of my surroundings, my life. When I share them, I just want others to be able to see the world through my eyes for a moment.
    Anyway, so, I am adding the link to my page. And hope others will post their entries also. I am very curious to see.

    http://infidelbabes.jimdo.com/blog-1/

  23. I have been mixed about the top 15, but all in all, I think Steve has done a very good job picking out images that speak to him, and to the contest as a whole. I was one of the unlucky 1200+ not to be chosen, but it’s for good reason, as I’ve realized the last few days of watching the top submissions being posted. However…losing a contest is not what I really care about in this situation. More so, I’m just dying to see some of the other entries. Twenty five or so sets just isn’t enough!!! I know this is a tall order Steve, so please don’t take this as a demand. I guess I just want to see MORE MORE MORE of what this contest evoked in terms of creativity and narrative. I love this contest, and can’t wait to enter the next, though undoubtedly for a less extravagant prize.

    My best goes out to all that are in the eventual top 15, and congrats to everyone who pulled off some great work in a month’s time!

    Thanks Steve, Seal, Heidi, and Rankin for doing so much for us amateurs….

  24. Hey Steve. Did you expect this much ethical and moral controversy/debate when you first thought of this contest? Did Seal? I think it’s cool. It’s interesting to hear photographers/artists talk about things other than vignetting, bokeh quality or even foveon sensors. Your websites the bomb.

  25. Steve, congratulations! You did a very good job. First and foremost you gave other people than yourself the opportunity to show their images. I am impressed by the great photographers (men and women) who are out there. In these images I see passion. Passion and dedication. Most creative people need a project to help them create. Your M-9 giveaway contest was a wonderful incentive to express ourselves. Thanks and please, after your postpartum, think of organizing another contest.

  26. One thing I forgot to mention: Steve I hope you will publish all the entries on a flickr account or similar? I really want to see them all… It is true that once you have done this some people will look at them and say x was way better than the chosen y… but who cares? Y was chosen… end of story.

  27. Guys seriously,

    Did you really think the outcome of this contest was going to be any different? Maybe some of you thought that Steve had a moral obligation to pick the 15 top that would be worthy of the M9, what I mean to say is that I think some of you were expecting pictures so incredible in every way (given the prize) that it would appease any doubts you had about the talent behind the camera. When you have a contest such as this one, open to everyone and anyone, with or without any photographic skills and of any age group around the world…. jeez, its only common sense that it would come down to this.

    The bottom line is that Seal and Steve came up with this contest, Seal decided to give away his M9 and Steve to put it all together. Yes its good publicity, yes it builds up his site, nobody forced you to enter, from what I can remember there wasn’t any fee to enter and basically everyone was welcomed. So what’s the problem here? Seriously, why are some of you so frustrated? Maybe some of you think that he shouldn’t of been the one to pick the top 15, maybe, but again it is his contest. I have to admit that in this day an age where most people with a DSLR think they could make it as a pro… well you get a lot of crap and so it get harder to see the good stuff, with substance and beyond what’s obvious. This contest wasn’t about the best skilled photographer or best picture, it was about the best story and if Steve thinks these 22 last ones were the best then that’s that.

    Personally I think that if these are the best 22 out of 1000 or so entries… then I think a lot of talented people missed this contest, many of which deserve a work of art like the M9. I honestly thought I would be blown away… but many were very predictable or cliché. Having said all that, I still think that there are at least two entries who truly deserve to win. But again, that is only my humble opinion and I don’t proclaim to be a photo God… maybe that is why I am so disappointed.

  28. I just voted for Pig & Pork because the photography is excellent, the story is good, and it’s not too dramatic, pretentious, or shallow. It’s great! The texture and the look of the pig is awesome- looking him right in the eye- and the title is superb and makes the story- a perfect title both complimentary to the photos to make the story and witty.

    I was surprised to see “some scars can’t be hidden” as such a popular one. I really like the two photos, and I like the attempt at depth, but #1 I don’t see how the photos convey the concept of the title and #2 I don’t see how it tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end, which is what a narrative is IMO.

    Could some of you who get that entry, or voted for it, just explain how you saw it convey the title and what the story is? Thanks!

    • I have the same problem with “some scars cant be hidden” beside that i saw the 2nd picture already on the web some weeks ago, when making my research about “narrative photography”.

    • I think the mechanism she chose to convey the title is pretty clear. Whatever scaring event she experienced changed the whole way she sees her world. It went from pretty clear black and white to a smeared sickly yellowish haze. Same view out the window and she may look outwardly the same, but the scar within alters everything about the way she sees her life.

      What I’m not at all clear about is what the scarring event is. All that content would seem to be in the small mirror reflection. I can’t see enough of the figure or figures in the left frame to get a confident feel for that. It’s a small view and resolution is not high, so it could be her with her hand on a slightly swollen belly. If so, you can fill in the rest a couple of ways.

      Or that could be somebody else’s hand on her and that hand is now gone, leaving the loss and its scarring effect.

      Or maybe, it’s a depiction of the onset of a clinical depression, where everything may look all right from the outside, but nightmarishly wrong from the inside. In that case, the hand is again hers on her leg (I think), but with approval on the left where she likes herself, replaced by the averted distant gaze on the right where she doesn’t.

      Or maybe she reads too much Shelley, but whatever it is/was it’s changed her outlook drastically.

      TDK, to my inquiry above, suggested she’s wheelchair bound, limited to the view out the window. In which case the hand is hers on her leg, which she’s lost use of and become invalid. I don’t see any evidence of a chair, though, and paralysis would be open evidence of scarring which the title suggests is actually hidden. So, while that’s surely an interpretation that can’t be ruled out, I lean, based on the title, to more emotional, internal scars without a physical manifestation.

      It is an interesting effort. Apparently the only one shot with an iPhone. I like it because it does such a great job of depicting an emotion. Here, I think, a gut wrenching life changing trauma from the inside out. In that regard, I thought it superior to most of the others here, and by it’s subtlety, more to my taste. Despite my difficulty with the why, and the fact that #2 & #10 also do a nice job with less wrenching emotions, I’m leaning that way with my vote.

      • doubleg EXCELLENT interpretations thank you so much for your comments. I have a much more sophisticated and appreciative view of the entry now. It’s not for my taste but I can appreciate it so much more. Your comments sent my girlfriend over the top (who also entered) and now she’s definitely voting for that one (and she was leaning towards it before)

  29. Steve- I think you have to take any negativity with a pinch of salt. At the end of the day the fact that some people will never be happy is an absolute given in a forum such as this. Spend any time on an internet forum and you will quickly note that there is always someone who says something nasty- insults someone else they do not know- or generally goes off half cocked throwing spanners into the works. There are know it-alls, self proclaimed experts and general nay-sayers. Many times it seems as if these types thrive on attention no matter how negative that attention is.

    I certainly wouldn’t let them bother you- or allow them to make you reconsider future competitions. As the Buddhists note, it is not the thing that affects us so much as our reaction to the thing.

    Now back to the final images: when I was planning my submission I thought of going to a Hospital and photographing a dying person. Or to a cemetery and catching a funeral… Then I thought of going to the dog pound to photograph poor dogs in cages… I thought perhaps I could make the dog images ‘lighter’ by photographing a little girl picking a nice puppy out and thereby ‘saving’ it….

    In the end I couldn’t bring myself to do it and I took some images of happy kids at a fair ground…

    Perhaps this is why I am not a very good photographer… In truth a lot of my favorite photographers document war, sadness, death, disease, madness, poverty, etc. It takes a certain mentality/skill to go out into the world- up close to the suffering and point a camera directly at it. There will always be a question as to whether such images are documentation or exploitation.

    What is certain is that such images have a very wide appeal- so I am not at all surprised that many in the top 15 aimed towards the darker side of life.

    • 100% agreed. Please ignore the negativity Steve, and have a look instead at what you achieved. You got 1500+ people (there would have been at least 200 try it, but not submit images) thinking more about the photography, about what their photos are saying, and thinking about the art of storytelling with photographs. That’s a minimum of 10,000 people you’ve just contributed to seeing better photos, that tell better stories, likely for the rest of their lives (the sparks that are generated by this kind of thinking burn, at least as embers, for a very long time).

    • I am angry on myselve because of what You mentioned. I felt right from the beginning, that the finalists will be very emotional pictures about hard struggles in live like death or sickness… I had my father nearly dying some weeks ago on the intensive care in hospital. I thought about making pictures of him and my little son, to create something emotional. I have a badly handicapped little 6 year old at home. I thought about going and making something very emotional with her.

      But the I decided not to do it. It did not feel right and appropriate for me and for me. It was a moral decision for me. Instead I tried to make a funny story.

      And now i see 2 dead/ dying children, 2 handicapped people, 2 homeless people, 2 dead animals, a dead soldier, a junkie among the finalists. Some of the stories behind i simply dont get (the goose/ pig, or the drug addict…)

      I am disappointed about this. I cannot judge Steve for choosing the pictures, as it is his contest, and he may choose whatever he likes. And the pictures are of course very well done. I also cannot judge people seeing no problem in it making pictures from others suffering. I am also not convinced that there are no other good stories between the 1300 entries, but have to take the word of the organizer of this contest!

      But I am disappointed, that I decided differently. And i am disappointed that we have so many “dark stories” among the finalists.

      However – sorry for being too honest perhaps – much luck too all of You, may the best storyteller win!

      • I appreciate your opinion. I was surprised at the darker emotional content too. It’s not my cup of tea, because I’m into comedy. I totally understand what you’re saying.

      • You shouldn’t feel disappointed that you made a choice. At the end of the day, these finalists are there because of subjective reasons(I’m not ripping on steve – it’s his contest and the rules were clear). You chose to shoot something happier because maybe you’re an optimist or at least your glass is half full. and you want to see things that way.

        I would never apologize for choosing the way you did. I would feel gross manufacturing a situation where actual people were suffering for my own gain.

        That being said – I voted for #1 because of two reasons. First, it had the most authentic impact for me the first time I saw all the finalists. Second, when I reviewed the photos and thought about them it seemed the most genuine out of the ones I liked. That man looks proud even though he’s struggling.

        Before I get crucified for being happy – I thought several of these were dark and boring. I liked 1, 9, 10 and the sledding images, and the man smiling after surgery.

        • Thanks for Your comments. I know why You like, what You like, and feel the same way. I for my part, am not apologyzing. I am just angry on myself, that, despite knowing somehow what direction of stories will be preferred, i did not listen to myself. Perhaps i have a strange morality? However. Cannot change it. Was still a lot of fun, to engage into this contest. Great idea! A lot of things learned,…

  30. @dovla
    i totally agree with you ! thats just sick, besides that how can you even think of taking a picture like that, shows where peoples morals are now a days ! i personally was discusted by that picture !!!

    • So let me get this straight. A fellow photographer decides to share the grief of losing their child with us through these heartfelt and touching photos, and you somehow twist that into it being something disgusting and immoral? Is that really what you just said?

      Are you really trying to make someone who lost a baby in the last 6 weeks feel WORSE (if that was even possible)? I can’t even get my head around what kind of person would want to do that.

      • Hmm TPTB, Steven Caddy’s photos are very gripping and in a sense they are forced upon the viewer. I think it is a perfectly natural human reaction that Boris and Dovla displays.
        Just as we should respect the photographer´s choice of motive we should respect the viewer’s first-hand reactions.
        Isn´t that what photography is all about? Getting a reaction out of the viewer!
        When mr Caddy decided to use these photos for the contest he himself opened up the venue for this kind of discussion. As with all other art you just have to live with the fact that everyone’s entitled to a opinion and the right to publicly express it.

        You write: “A fellow photographer decides to share the grief…” Well, the thing is that that wasn’t what the fellow photographer did. He decided to enter a contest with his grief. The photographs were no doubt so good that Steve would have published them out of competition.

        To use your choice of words (which I strongly oppose): So let me get this straight. When a photograph evokes a strong reaction you seriously think that you get to censor that reaction?

        To Steve: Thank you for a great contest! Both the photographs and the discussions around them have in some cases touched the very core of depicting art 🙂

        • “you seriously think that you get to censor that reaction”

          It’s nothing to do with censorship, it’s got to do with treating people with respect. Calling someone disgusting and immoral does not hold up to that test.

          • And before someone points out that I would appear to be doing the same thing in reverse – I’m asking the question, trying to work out what it is they are actually saying. “Is that really” and “Are you really” are actual questions, because I’m having a hard time fathoming where that reaction comes from and I’m trying to work it out.

          • But TPTB, for a large portion of humanity it is immoral and disgusting to display one´s personal life in such a manner. That aside. When an artist takes his art to the masses he/she does that fully aware of the possibility of negative reactions. This is especially true when dealing with such a emotionally charged subject as death.
            Dovla and Boris raise valid points. They might have expressed themselves a bit more eloquently but you can’t refuse someone their right to express their opinions freely just because they aren’t gifted with words.

  31. I really enjoyed the way some of the shots were composed here. Now we all know what it is like to look through pictures upon pictures of stunning entries….well only 10, but still… 😀

    Best regards Steve,

    Anthony K

  32. Does anybody, other than the photographer herself (sorry Helene Marie), want to express an opinion on what scar can’t be hidden in #9? Is the left frame a hand on the woman’s leg or belly?

    The complete change of view is obvious life no longer clear or clean, somehow colored by what happened, but I’m having trouble with why. Am I being obtuse or blind, or is the reason why obscure? And, yes I acknowledge those are not mutually exclusive states 😉

    • I voted for it – although it is a bit unclear what the scar was, I think I like the mystery.
      My guess is the subject is wheelchair bound.

  33. There were some interesting stories here, some particularly well done. It was tough but I have cast my vote.

    My own submission was not among these, but for anyone interested I have published my submission on my own blog: http://bluefilter.co.uk/0Z

    I look forward to seeing which three go forward, and more importantly which two are adjudged to be the winners. Good luck to those shortlisted, and well done to everyone that took part.

    • Sensibilities vary and, as we say in my business, the judge is the judge. Still, I must say that I’d rather have seen your delivery room depictions on this page than BOTH a dead goose and dismembered pig. Thanks for the link. Nice work, Michael.

  34. The winners never give up. Who give up never win!
    Congratulation to all, who entered for this GAME – and also who win.

  35. Steve

    I think this is more of a psychological and social experiment than a photo contest. I love reading all of these responses and the depth at which everyone is analyzing these images. If you would have posted them up as a one of your daily inspirations they would have never received the kind of scrutiny and evoked the same passion that they do when an M9 is at stake.

    Wow! When the stakes are raised, the human condition rises from the ashes.

    Garon

    • Sorry, but I have to write this: I think #9 doesn’t tell a story at all. Not even intresting…
      Lousy compositions and unknown meaning. These look like just experimentations or boring snapshots to me.
      How come it could get so many votes?

      No. 1 and No. 6 are BY FAR the best of these. BY FAR!

  36. Voted for Jonathan Cook, Something about it I liked. The images with the title maybe. Anywho, better get back to reality. Thanks for the contest Steve and Seal, great fun. Good luck to all the finalists. I put my entry on my website under about me. It probably didn’t make sense in terms of the contest, but I think it might work well on my site. bye all.

  37. I have to say that ‘too soon to say goodbye’ struck me deeply, having lost a child due to pre-term labor. And as everyone has an opinion, I’m fine with the pictures being posted/chosen. I wish every story could be a happy one, as with the 2 year old I now get to hold in my arms, chase around the house, and practice my photography with. I know that one day we can be a family again in heaven, and I pray that those that were hurt by the pictures will find healing.

  38. I’m not the “artsy type” so for me most of these are really dark and depressing and I really don’t want to be brought down when I look at art. “Dreaming” is beautiful with the little girl shown in her dreamworld. Nice photo on the frozen lake with the mist hanging.

  39. I love the format of the competition. It is an excellent idea.

    After a promising start , however I’m now a little disappointed with some of the entries.

    Too many of them are contrived, made up, deliberate and heavy handed.

    I find I am charmed by the simplicity of Dachsunds in the Snow. It’s more honest somehow.

    IMO of course.

    • “Charm” – interesting choice of words Rufus. I think charm was a story trait undersought by those who entered. And now that I think of it, because of how feel-good the contest is with the generosity of those running it, I can say that “charm” is what my expectation was for most of the photos, regardless of whether that’s good or bad. Thanks for that.

  40. Why are so many people assuming submission #6 is dealing with death? I see two other possible stories given the title. It could be that the mother – dressed in her street clothes – is visiting her infant in the neo-natal ward. She is unhappy to be saying goodbye and leaving her baby alone in the hospital until she is allowed to visit again the next day.

    Second, the mother may be experiencing post-partum depression, and it may not be the untimely departure of the infant from this earth that is the focus of this story, but potentially that of the mother instead.

    So soon after child-birth, a mother is in a heightened state of emotion. There are many reasons the woman expresses herself as she does,and many possible interpretations as to what is going on in her mind.

    • Jeff: Because it’s called “too soon to say goodbye” and the baby is so incredibly tiny to suggest that it is a premature child that didn’t make it.

    • While I sincerely hope that you are right, I don’t believe so. (A baby that small would most likely have tape on their face for the tubes, oxygen, CPAP, and monitors attached, etc. Steven’s baby does not.)

      That said, isn’t that part of the richness of this competition? That you can interpret the meaning and story behind the images for yourself?

  41. These are so well done and many are such good “stories” that I will spend some decent time Saturday reading and re-reading the contest guidelines tomorrow before voting. The pig, surgery, infant, and sled I think best combine the clearest stories and most well-done photographically, so I will likely be choosing from those.

    However, can someone please help me get the story of #1? I feel like a story is there and I’m missing it. Does it have to do with someone named “Guy Jones?” Please forgive my ignorance. Thanks.

    • Hi Bradley,

      I photographed that story. I responded fully in post #8 above so I’ll refrain from retyping everything. Basically, Guy Jones is a homeless gentleman that I spent around a week with. The two pictures are from a bus station where he was trying to warm up.

      Thank you,

      Jon

      • Thanks Jon! Amazing. Way to “get out there,” do some fieldwork for this project. That’s admirable. Congratulations on your place among the finalists!

      • It was the one that I thought most authentic and least kitchy of all the ‘dramatic’ entries. Enjoy my vote sir… 🙂

          • Hi Richard,

            Thank you, it does make sense to me. For those who are curious, I didn’t spend time with Guy in order find 2 images to submit for this contest. My work with Guy is part of a larger project on homelessness that I’ve been working on for the past 6 months and I just felt that these two images told a small part of a much larger and more complex story. Again, thank you for your thoughts.

            Jon

  42. i question your objectivity, steve. amy medina, helene pambrun and megan baker – out of 1200 photographers who entered, these three – who’s either been featured on the site or you know – are among the finalists?

    considering the images they’ve entered – with the exception of amy medina, perhaps – it doesn’t taste right.

    sorry, but that’s my honest opinion.

    • Well thanks for your honest opinion! As for your accusations and doubt, I do not “Know” Amy, Helene or Megan any more than I know the thousands of others who are on my facebook or this site. There are MANY of you that I DO know and HAVE spoken with AND met that did not make the finals.

      If you are even suggestion for one second that I have cheated or placed people in the finals that did not deserve it then you are way off base Adam. At the end of the day YOU guys are choosing the final three and a third party is choosing the winner. I am confident that the winner will be the one who deserved it most.

      But as for knowing the entrants, I know hundreds of the entrants by way of e-mail, facebook, etc. The only one I have ever met in person that made the finals is Amy Medina. Her set was chosen for one reason and one reason only. IT TOLD A STORY and TOLD IT WELL.

      Thanks for your comment anyway…

      Steve

      • Jeez Steve,

        Whilst you were handing out shoe ins for those you ‘know’ (wrote an article, on your facebook, swapped an email, conversed on the forums with, replied in a comment to, or generally said hi to) I was floundering in wait since apparently you’d forgotten that we had that one talk that one time.. remember.

        I’ll expect a check in the mail since you clearly overlooked one of your ‘friends’ (despite being a stranger in real life)..

        Postdated is fine fwiw.

    • Causality: the relation between causes and effects.

      Amy and a couple of others demonstrate skill and willingness to share
      Amy and a couple of others contribute via email to the site
      Amy and a couple of others use said skill to enter contest and, unsurprisingly, place.

      I know, it’s not fox news worthy.. but I’d say it adheres, as a conclusion, much better to Occam’s Razor.

      I’d be freaked out if I didn’t see any contributors in the finals.. would make me wonder what sort of photographers are writing guest spots.

      full disclosure.. Amy and I have had a couple of nice message exchanges on facebook.

      hey if she wins maybe she’ll give me her m8.. you know.. since we’re friends.

  43. I just had a very good story but as i was about to sent it i realized it had to be taken within the contest tiime frame 🙁 too bad for me, in any case, All finalist did a great job 😀

  44. This contest is really different from what I was expecting. I thought it was about image story-telling, but it ended up with photoshop drama-telling.
    Every comment is enthusiastic about these staged stories as if drama is the quality indicator. Images here just slap you in the face with the cruel part of these realities without respect for people that really live them. I haven’t seen a single picture approaching the subject with delicacy of feelings and tact. It is even worst having people relying on these fake situations to win 8000$!! This contest is meant to win a piece of hardware that for sure will not be used to give life back to a death soldier or to prevent people from eating hams. I also wonder if people shotted thinking about the drama lived by the people being photographed or if they just thought about having more and more drama to reach the top 3 for a Leica.
    Do we really need drama to tell a story? Do we really think that to make a story with 2 pictures one should be the start and the other one the end? I don’t know about you… but I have memories of my childhood where after “drawing” sun, 2 hills, one house and one road the whole afternoon could have been spent imaging stories.
    Anyway these are just my 2 cents; everyone here is just happy with what it came out.

    Paolo (Milano)

    • I understand where you are coming from. It is unfortunate that the vast majority of the images are really dark. I would love to see a followup contest in which the mandatory entry requirement is joy, happiness, humor, etc.

    • Well, I guess is something like a private contest, and the organizer (Steve Huff) chose the ones he liked the most. I think that’s correct. I think everyone would pick different pictures based on their own subjetive likes. I would do the same if I was giving something away in a contest. Remember that we didn’t pay a cent to enter the contest, so strictly speaking we shouldn’t be arguing why the pictures were chossen. Of course you can discuss about the images themselves and the messages they convey, but I guess we cannot question the contest itself. You could suggest running a contest of happy story telling if that is what you want. Even though, I partially agree with you, but as someone else said, it appears our human nature gets more impressed by the drama and pain than by the happiness.

      • adeuksom: I think Paolo is effectively avoiding the suggestion that Steve chose dramatic / intense entries because that’s what he prefers, and is instead suggesting that a significant number of entries, including the best ones, are dramatic. In that case, by choosing the best Steve necessarily chose a lot of dramatic entries.

        • Yep. In fact my incipit is about what I was expecting and my way of seeing things. I don’t like all these dark images, and I thought the contest would turn the other way around. I accept the rules of the game and respect Steve position, that’s why I do not complain about finalists. I just don’t like the final outcome of the contest 🙂 It’s like going to the cinema for the long awaited movie and discover that it wasn’t as you expected.

          Paolo

          • By the way, my comment as been moderated so it means that Steve gives me the opportunity to express an opinion (as far as it is respectful for participants)… and I think it was 🙂

        • I chose the entries that I did because they were the best of the bunch that told a story using two images. If there were more cheerful good submissions, believe me, I would have chosen them. In no way do I “prefer” dark stories 🙂 What you see here on this page and the top 12 page was the best of the entries for THIS CONTEST. Plain and simple.

          Seal and I had a few more contests planned but with ridiculous behavior aimed at me and finalists by some of you it’s leaving a bad taste in my mouth, so I will probably rethink it.

          Bottom line is that this is a contest on MY site. The rules were clear and the finalists chosen were the best of the bunch out of the 1300 sets for the criteria of the contest. Happy, sad, tragic…I wasn’t looking for a dark theme but the best stories.

          BTW, this reply is geared towards Scrollone who called this contest one of “Photoshop Drama Telling”. One photo used photoshop to enhance the story, and this was 100% allowed. Staged stories? I welcome it. I did not say this was a documentary contest. I can reply with this same thing until I am blue in the face but there are still those who feel it is there contest, and their rules because their entry wasn’t chosen. If there were more documentary style submissions that were worthy of the top spots, they would have been here.

          Out of 1300 submissions about 80-100 were good. 15-20 were excellent. 3-4 were superb. The rest were all great attempts but fell short for one reason or another.

          For those who feel they have been slighted because their entry didnt make the cut I am sorry but as someone else pointed out, this was a generous contest and no one had to pay to enter. The prize is unheard of for a blog contest and I am running it as honest as I can. Getting accused of cheating, readers telling me to be a man and remove a finalist and others who are just whining about not being a finalist, well, it’s pretty sad.

          Thanks to all who commented so far and good luck once again to these finalists. They all deserve the spot.

          • Steve,
            If there is one thing you should let sink in it’s everyones appreciation for the contest, the generosity, your site, your choices, your work, and in general how extraordinary you and all this is- not one or two of these ridiculous accusations or insults. Brush them off we all knew they were coming. I think most didn’t even think they were worth your reply as we rolled our eyes at them. Let others contest them on your behalf most of the time.

            The process actually convinced me I dont deserve an M9! I think 99.9% of those who participated and those who didn’t are calling this a resounding success and the most spectacular photography contest in terms of entries, participation, growth, discussion, accessibility, opportunity, and selections. And the internet photography world is a big place.

            Let that sink in when you begin to think about another contest.

          • Haha Steve! You hardly ever respond to praise so it’s like you aren’t letting the community’s love sink in! I mean, in Biden’s words, “This is a big F’in deal!”

          • Steve, I think there were just a few really negative posts aimed at you personally or at the top contestants, like 1% or so. Most people here express very positive feelings for the contest idea and you and Seal for putting it all together. I want to join them and thank you for this great idea that had inspired my creativity a great deal. I think I will be coming back to this two-picture story format over and over from now on.

            My entry didn’t make it to the top and I didn’t really expect it to. Besides, I already have an M9. Anyway, I enjoyed it immensely! Thank you, Steve!

            What I’m trying to say here is that I hope the bad taste in your mouth would go away and we’ll see many more exciting contests here.

            We have a joke in Russia about bad aftertaste. After a house party the host tells one of the guests that he won’t be welcome there anymore. The guest is surprised and asks why. The host explains that he had some silverware missing and he thought that that particular guest took it. The guest tries to defend himself but the host says, reassuringly, “Oh, don’t worry, I found the missing silverware! But I still have a bit of bad taste in my mouth about you, so please don’t bother coming again!”

            We’re all human and sometimes we say strong things. But I believe in most cases we don’t really mean it. So, Steve, please enjoy the good things being said here and just ignore the bad. It’s your site and your contest. You were nice enough to try and put some rules together but it’s still your show. I wouldn’t even bother with any rules if it were my contest. I’d just say that whose pictures I like the best gets the Leica, period. Don’t like it, don’t play. Easy.

            Here’s my entry, if anyone’s interested:
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregshanta/5384504439/lightbox/
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregshanta/5377710869/lightbox/

            Cheers,
            Greg

    • And if it was the other way around, everyone would be complaining about how shallow and superficial the contest was, and asking why it didn’t deal with any issues of weight …

      • thepowersthatbe: Perhaps you are right! To be fair, there is a good mix in this last batch (for example the sled, the music, dreaming, and the dead animals aren’t as intense as the one of the infant). I like this batch though. I think that the dramatic ones in this batch come across as dramatic without the pretentiousness that some other ones in the previous batches did, but that’s just my imperfect unprofessional impression.

  45. First, again, thanks to Steve for the contest; Seal, for donating the top prize; and Leica for donating the runner-up prize. I have also found this to be an enjoyable contest even though my light-hearted entry did not make the cut. As to #6, Steven Caddy’s entry, there is actually an organization here in the States that provides photographers for situations such as the one Steven was privy too. I have even seen one photojournalist that was profiled in the NPPA magazine NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER and does it, if I remember right, in black&white film. Some of his images were like Steven’s, very emotional and moving, especially for someone like me who has lost a child.

    While the compositions were not always as good as I thought they should be (very subjective point there), the stories were excellent. Even the one that was disqualified!

    So, congrats to the finalists, and I do not envy Heidi or Rankin in having to pick the final top two!

  46. OK, now I’m going to ask a very unpopular question: if the contest rules prohibited explaining your entry with your submission, how is it appropriate to be getting explanations from the photographers who took and submitted these sets that we’ll vote on, at least prior to completion of the voting process?

  47. Steve, what is going on? Are you trying to shock? I have enjoyed looking at the finalists until today when I scrolled down the list and saw 3 death photos #s 5, 6 and 8 …

      • Yes, the three images combined made me feel very uneasy and question why they were picked – was it to get a reaction?

        • Oh please, let’s get a grip. Open a newspaper, CNN, whatever. What sells? Controversy, death, revolutions, murder. It’s about visual impact, emotions. it’s just human nature. Sad love songs always sell more than happy ones, just as darkness, anguish, struggle and death are more visually powerful than happiness and smiles, therefore bound to get more attention.. aside from nudes, obviously which always tend to get high marks for some reason 🙂 Come on already, move on.

          • Why didn’t someone save the pig and the goose? Couldn’t the dog have pulled them away to safety? The Doctor could have reconstructed them, make them better than they were…stronger, faster. PETA is going to have a strike in the forum. I can feel it.

        • Michele I totally agree with you. Do we need drama to get reaction? Probably we got lost with all the bad things happening around… but luckily these are just a small amount of possible stories and there are still photographers being able to entertain and make you dream without drama. However… not in that contest 🙂

          • Guys, one thing to keep in mind is that many people believe a story has to be intense or significant to be “good” to have a chance in a contest such as this, and that probably led to a TON of intense entries for that reason (although all intense entries aren’t for that reason), including by many amazing photographers and storytellers. Point being, if Steve is choosing the best of the lot, and a huge amount of the best are intense, then choosing them for the finalists is what there is to do.

        • Well, a story is made to get a reaction. That’s its purpose.
          About death – that is an integral part of our lives. In fact, I am more surprised of how people get annoyed when it is shown to them.

  48. Pff.. i won’t be in the top 15.. BUT.. i’m in love for #2 – Juha Saransalmi – “Finding the power of music”!!
    because.. no more pathos : just abstraction and life!!
    (sorry, that’s a french mind.. .)

    • I also voted for that one! Why? Because the pictures don´t tell another “extremely emotional border-line experience” like the most other pictures but a plain simple – and yes harmless – story. It must be human nature, that we tend to see the “extremes” only and look over the simple things of live 😉

  49. Steve! Big question!!!!! Can’t people just call up their friends and tell them to vote for their photos??? Isn’t that a bit unfair if someone gets majority votes due to lots of friends and family members??? Is the system built where it only let allow one vote from a registered member on this site? and how old must that registration be? I say one month at least to be eligible to vote… =/ I don’t know how the voting system works but it seems like people can pull a quick one on this.

    • No, you do not have to be registered to vote. Why? Because A: The poll software doesn’t allow for that and B: I wouldn’t do it anyway. I feel anyone and everyone can vote. Only one vote per person will count. If someone has 20,000 friends and they all want to vote then so be it. That is not cheating. I remember being in a pretty major contest once. I was in the top 10 and everyone was telling their friends to vote for them, including me. The person who eventually won deserved to win though, even with the hundreds of friends voting.

      In something like this I would not exclude friends and family members from voting. It is a poll and anyone can vote. I think people stress too much about things like this. At the end of the day I will bet that the three that truly deserve to head to the top 12 will.

      Besides, requiring registration to vote would exclude so many votes as many people would not want to register to a web site just to place a vote. This is an open poll, and I feel anyone and everyone can vote. But be assured, only one vote per person gets counted.

      This web site has gets a lot of traffic. Someone would have to have a LOAD of friends to skew the results.

  50. I agree with a lot of the comments. There are tons more in this list of 10 that I like far better than the first 12. Better stories… more interesting subjects… better angles… more impact. I went with #4. Love how the finish line is “man’s best friend.”

    • I agree with a lot of the comments. There are tons more in this list of 10 that I like far better than the first 12.

      Funny because I knew people would say this 🙂 Even if these were the top choices and the official top 12 were here, someone else would say the same. Its all subjective. The goal of the contest was to tell a story. The top 12 did and these did as well. Many other photos that didn’t make the cut were more creative but didn’t tell a good story. Wasn’t about the angles, lighting or composition in this one guys, but about the “story”. I congratulate not only those on the top 12 and here, but also EVERYONE who entered.

      More contests on the way 🙂

  51. Now this selection has everything! Such a shame only 3 can go through, as I personally prefer more of these 10 than in the previous 12. They are variously moving, well composed and beautifully thought out!

  52. Some excellent entries in there. Did any photos shot on a mobile phone make the cut? Nah didn’t think so. It’s a real shame you can see the results of the vote. It would surely be more exciting if we couldn’t see. Guess that’s the limitation of the cote system plug-in. Good luck everyone!

  53. Steve, I think you’re handling this quite well, I’ll be on the lookout for future contests. Hats off to all the finalists. Good luck!

    • Also, the contrast of him being in uniform and acting like a kid flying down the hill, only to do a face plant. Totally hilarious. What drives it home is his friend laughing, so we know it isn’t serious.

  54. Well now I’m officially bummed at not making the top 22. My story was very differant and I’m not terribly surprised it didn’t speak to Steve. I do think he stayed true to his artistic integrity while picking his favs which is all we could expect. Hopefully all the contestants did the same while making their pictures. I know I did. Here’s a link to my submission http://archives.morenaphotography.com/p406728914. Feel free to comment and critique. Overall this process was rewarding for me, I enjoyed concieving and producing my pics and I thank Steve and Seal for inspiring me to create.

  55. Personally, I got lost in the meaning and story of no. 6. I had many feelings and thoughts as I looked and studied these 2 photos. Although I would not have take a shot like that I feel the photographer was honest and sincere in his approach and would in no way threaten the fragile and loving feelings that sourrounded those in that room.

    So for me, he could have taken that with a cell phone and the meaning still would have come across. Thanks Steven for sharing and good luck.

    • I know someone will question my “got lost” comment above: meaning I was hooked line and sinker. It did captivate and hold my attention……
      Lost in translation,
      Cheers

  56. All the entries represent a slice of life as diverse as the world we live in. I really don’t think morality is a valid criticism for any of these. Yes, some deal with hard subjects and are very moving, but they represent the reality of life, the joy, the pain and sometimes the darker side.

    I have enjoyed the whole process involved in this contest. I have learned a great deal – simply seeing the new sets of photos each day. Thank you Steve, for your work and passion – what a great little community. Good luck to the finalists, you have all done a great job! Thank you for sharing your vision, your reality, and for some places the make us all a little uncomfortable.

  57. voted for number 9. i like poetry in images. i enjoyed this contest and i find the quality of the pictures very good. the only aspect i liked less is the the rhetoric i see in many chosen images. this is just my personal opinion of course and does not change the fact that i found this contest very positive. thank you
    nicola

  58. The problem with entries like #6 is that focus is turned away from the art of storytelling and directed towards the tragedy instead. I do recognize it as a great work of art and I truly feel compassion for all fellow human beings so brutally caught up in the universal drama of life and death but I still question using it in the contest.
    It seems that even though it has an important message to convey to me this isn’t the channel for it.

    This is in no way a critique of Steve’s choice of nominees. Ask yourselves: Could you have turned down such a gripping narrative? I know I coudn’t have. Letting all of us decide seems in a way as the perfect compromise.

    But, I just wish that the photographer had chosen another means of reaching me.

  59. I have seen the second picture of entry #9 ““Some scars can’t be hidden”” somewhere on the Net some weeks ago… But where?

  60. Well, i didn’t make i t to the final 15…but no regrets, it was a tough contest and i wasn’t the best. But i will be, one day 😉

    Big Thatks for Steve and Seal!

  61. No comments on the quality of the pics, but all of they all represent a sort of “dark side”. That’s my personal opinion. I would have liked more positive sceneries, like the child and the jumping dog in the snow from the already chosen finalists. That’s why I’m sorry to say that I won’t vote on any of these ones… Nevertheless: good luck to all of who’ll make it to the final 15!

    • I was also surprised that the contest overall had so many “dark” images. As I was shooting for this contest, and encouraging my sister to shoot an entry also, I kept thinking that the winning shot would be a cell phone image and that it would be an uplifting picture.

      I’m surprised that all of the winning entries were done by skilled photographers, and I’m surprised so many were dark.

      What a great contest though. I’m not upset at loosing to most of these entries.

      • “In the black and white photography, and that their relations in a much wider range of tones can be controlled. This makes for a dramatic effect to be achieved, which is rare in color. The colors always have a certain kind of dazzling effect. When looking at a picture and the color, no matter what is behind the man’s eyes brighten up.”

        János Vajda – Hungarian photgrapher.

      • I agree, Erwin. I expected more uplifting entries. I cried at #6! I’ve seen that so many times before when working at the hospital.

        I did think #7 was hilarious though. What got me was his friend laughing. I can totally see this happening. Someone always does a face plant when flying down the hill on those sleds. I’ve seen it done on skis too.

      • People vote for dark and for sexy, this competition is all about the big money prize so people are gonna put the images they know have a better chance of winning. Naked people tends to only get half the vote, grim tends to get all the vote.

  62. Well, I guess we all suppose Steven Caddy’s shot is a real story, if it is, WOW, I could not take a picture like that because I would be crying. If it is posed, what a strong idea and good actress. Please don’t get me wrong. I like the picture, even when I don’t know how to feel about the story. I just can feel admiration for the photographer.

  63. My favorite is number 6. And yes it’s a kind of funny but indeed it’s Seal’s number … It has all a great picture should have. Lot’s of emotion, a story, and nice black and white colors.

  64. Number one is lost on me and a few other friends who have looked.. anyone care to expand on it to help us understand?

    Is number 4 documenting animal cruelty?

    • Hi AzX1,

      Since I took the photos I’m happy to respond.

      Guy Jones is a homeless gentleman who I met and spent a week with. I spent a night in the shelter with him, recorded around 3 hours of audio interviews and spent several full days photographing him.

      One of his quotes was “my arm was my pillow,” explaining what it’s like to live on the streets.

      These two images were among my favorites from my time with him and were taken in the bus station where he goes to warm up his hands after walking in the cold. One day I spent with him it was 5 degrees and windy.

      I was greatly touched by the time I was able to spend with him. There is much more to his story and he has some incredible accomplishments but I’m not sure I should link to my larger story about him here–if you are interested I’d be happy to PM you a link.

      Thanks,

      Jon

      • Thanks Jon,

        I thought that was a radiator in the second shot! Thanks for taking the time. Congrats on being in the showcase showdown!

        • Thank you for looking! I’m excited about the contest of course but I’m also excited about the chance people have to see Guy.

          In my community these photos have already received some attention and have played a small part in some positive changes for Guy and the homeless here in Columbia, Missouri.

          As I alluded, he has an amazing story that I would love to share it with a larger audience.

          Steve, after the contest is over could the finalists have a space to talk about their subjects a bit?

          Thank you,

          Jon

    • Why so many people try to understand or explain the pictures? It is just a story. As is on ly two photograps you can interpret the way you want. The pictures are not to document anything, juat to tell a story. By the way, would you consider eating chicken animal cruelty? You have to kill animals somehow and IMO that images just tell the story of a goose.

      “To early for goodbye” is extremely powerful and real. I know it will be in the finalist set and will probably win. It deserves it. It makes me want to cry. I’d like to learn from the photographer how he can approach someone in this situation. Steven Caddy, can you please teach me how do you do it? Did you spend some time talking with the woman? So intimate.

      • Asking for clarification when unable to come to a reasonable conclusion is not unreasonable.

        Second, recount. I was asking for clarification on another subject, you were too hot and heavy to jump down my throat to realize the image I asked about.

        Finally, asking if something means or is recording something is not a judgment. were I judging morality (doesn’t happen) I would have said.. blah blah blah, can’t believe there’s an animal cruelty photo blah blah..

        So basically, remove head, open eyes, clear mind, reconsider

      • “You have to kill animals somehow…” It’s sad to hear that, adeuksom.

        No, you don’t have to kill anyone. You are not being at gunpoint to do some atrocious thing or die. And yes, I do consider eating chicken animal cruelty. One doesn’t even need that to survive. It’s all a matter of taste and habit. Some people have the taste and habit for killing other creatures and eating them. It’s cruelty, however you look at it. And you don’t have to do that at all.

        As for the “Journey of a Goose” picture or the “Pig & Pork” picture shown here, unless the authors were trying to create awareness of the cruelty factor, I would find it highly exploitative. In my humble opinion, no one has to give up their life for my pleasure, be it enjoying a cool new camera or having a tasty meal.

        Leo Tolstoy once wrote an article entitled “I can’t keep silent…” I guess this is my “can’t keep silent” response. It’s an ethical issue and I just can’t be numb about it when I come across it. Sorry…

        So, I’ll say it again: you don’t have to kill anyone.

        Greg Shanta

        • Butchering of animals is a part of many peoples lives, especially those who live away from the big cities, grow up and live with it. If it wasent for the need to eat these animals they would never have been allowed to be born in the first place.

          • Eric, I don’t want to start here a lengthy discussion on this subject. After all, this forum is about photography, not animal rights. I’ll be more than happy to discuss these issues via email (gregory.shanta@gmail.com). Still, since some dialogue has been started here, I want to say a few things in response to your ideas.

            Butchering of humans was (or maybe still is) an accepted practice and part of the cultural tradition of some nations. Why do we, civilized people, condemn it then? Shouldn’t cannibalism be respected as part of some people’s culture and therefore considered normal? It’s a rhetorical question, of course, but it leads to some thinking on the right and wrong and on where we draw the line.

            Regarding your idea about some animals being “allowed to be born” to be later slaughtered and consumed, do you mean it’s some kind of blessing on our part that those animals should be thankful for? I’ve heard this idea more than once before and I’m sorry to say that I find it the most heartless, cynical and egocentric. And very cruel, too. Those animals are flesh and blood, like us and they are capable of feelings of joy and pain, like us. On what grounds, other than outright cynicism, do we find ourselves in the right of giving and taking away lives? Just because we want to put something in our belly? That seems utterly barbaric and unethical to me. We can easily do without such practices. And let the “remote nations” decide for themselves. You and I and billions of other people aren’t in that category.

            Eric, there is no sound and civilized argument in favour of animal butchering. As I said, it’s all the matter of personal taste, habit and certain barbaric customs (no matter how widespread). I am ready to discuss this issue with anyone with a heart and sound mind (in private conversation, preferably). I have nothing to say to the heartless people. They know they’re in the wrong but they will never admit it.

            Eric, let’s discuss it further privately if you’re interested. Sorry for another of those “can’t keep silent” outbursts. And no, I am not affiliated with PETA. I’m just a guy who likes taking photographs and doesn’t like killing anyone.

            Greg Shanta

    • #4 is by far not animal cruelty. It’s a weight pulling competition for working breed dogs. Working breeds were bred to do this and it comes very naturally to them and they love it. In these events, the handler (person) is not permitted to touch the dog, use bait, use a leash, or anything. The dog has to pull on its own and if the dog doesn’t wish to pull, it doesn’t have to. There are many weight pulling assocations throughout the country and the primary focus is to showcase the inherent work ethic that certain breeds possess. All of them have a priority to the health and safety of the dog. If you look up information with the IWPA, UKC, or with the breed’s national club (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America for the one in the picture) you will see all the safeguards in place to ensure nothing wrong is happening and the safety of the dog is the primary objective. Again… speaking for a lot of experience. Certain breeds LOVE doing this and it’s very good execise and low impact on their joints.

      • Thanks, I am unfamiliar with that practice.

        but I’d like to reiterate (again) asking if an image is recording something is not a judgment.

        “does x represent y?” != “omg I can’t believe y is allowed here, you’re all going to hell!”

        • Me too; I don’t normally think of dogs pulling loads, so I wondered what was up with the picture at first.

          What made those two pictures great, for me, is that the unfamiliar shock of “What exactly am I looking at?” made me take a second and closer look, at which point the details of the story emerged in a really naturalistic way. On closer inspection, I saw the AKC logos on the whiteboard, the posture of the human beings, and most importantly the happy proud look on the dog getting skritches from its handler.

        • Ok just in short, it appears the photographer was documenting dog training, contest, or something similar. It appears it was not a case of animal cruelty, but only the photographer can say it.

          • Hey there… as the owner of the dog in the picture and also the proud person who’s butt you see in the first, I’ll explain. vtspam is correct. This is a weight pulling competition. Gabby is my best friend. This is such a fun activity for us and she loves doing it. I had asked Eric to come with me while I trained her at a weight pulling facility and take some pictures. He got some amazing ones to say the least. Gabby is my family. I would not do anything in the world to hurt her or jeopardize her health. We pull together in various competitions… and we actually have one tomorrow. In the picture, she pulled 21.7x her weight or 2000 lbs. When I first started training her, she would only do 800. As she did more training, her confidence increased and so did her drive. After each pull, she gets a ton of praise and attention. Another thing to note is that the rules govern the age a dog has to be to pull and the maximum it is permitted to pull (if too young). Once a dog is old enough and they are grown, then you can work them harder, but as young pups, you don’t stress anything. I did not start working her until she was 18 months to ensure she was sound. If the dog has had enough or doesn’t want to pull anymore, we help them finish their last pull so they get a sense of accomplishment. All dogs end on a high note. There are various organizations that sponsor pulling events and like vtspam said, safety is the utmost importance. There are specific judges who monitor the dogs to see if they look too tired, injured, etc. Being that Gabby is a female, she’s not permitted to pull while in heat, pregnant, or shortly after a breeding. Thanks for the interest in these pictures. I’m so proud of Eric and the story he captured… which boils down to the fact that this is a breed that loves to please their owner/handler. It’s what gives them the drive. I wish you could see the other pictures he took that weekend where after completing a huge pull, she was jumping up on me in excitement and we were horsing around.

          • Thanks novadog.. there really was no implication, I just hadn’t seen that sort of contest before.. instead seeing mostly agility training and the like.

  65. Although I was not in the finals, I did not regret joining this contest. It’s enjoyable and cahallenging. Let us wait and see who will get the absolutely beautiful M9! Good luck, all finalists! Jealous me!

    PS Thank you Steve for holding this contest and bringing us such wonderful reviews! I am looking forward to new reviews, especially reviews about the NEX-5! Keep up the good work, and like many others, we are waiting for more upcoming contests!

  66. Too early for goodbye is an extremely powerful set of images, as I knew that would surely be in the top three I voted for another one to give it more chances to be in the top three… Best of luck to the 15 finalists, I know Heidi’s and Rankin’s act of choosing the top 2 will be very hard as most of the sets chosen are excellent ! Cheers Steve for that excellent contest !

  67. Wow, touched and honored to have been selected! To clarify, Guy Jones is the name of the gentleman that I spent a week with and photographed for these images. Steve, could you please include his name in the red font with quote marks around it? I just don’t want to confuse others as to why there are two names next to the photos.

    Thanks!

    Jon

  68. WOW….. #6 is unbelievably powerful. It is, in my opinion, better than the 12 already selected. I almost didn’t want to vote for this set cause I knew it’d jeopardize my own selfish want for the M9 but geez.

    • Dear God how could someone use that photo for the competition! It is just morally wrong! I do not mean to be trolling and starting stupid comments but thats just wrong.

      • I believe you assume too much in making your comment. Steven’s photos tell an incredible story (in fact, I think it is the best set of he 22 we’ve seen so far), but we do not know all the details. It may be the truly heart-wrenching story it appears to be. Or, the second image may be the child’s mother grieving at the thought of losing this precious child, while she hopes and prays for its (his or her) life. Second, we don’t whose child this is–it may be Steven’s child! But even if this visual story represents the passing of a child unrelated to the photographer, I don’t think it is our place to declare it immoral. Yes, it was submitted to win a competition, but its impact on me, the viewer, is to make me cherish life, and the lives of my children, even more. If it has the same impact (or other good impacts) on other viewers, I’d say that is a fantastic way to ‘redeem’ such a tragic situation through the photographs made of it.

        • Well said, John. Amy Medina’s and Steve Caddy’s are the ones to beat in my book. That’s the power of a set like Caddy’s. It is extremely sad, but it can also be viewed under a different light if one wishes. It’s very, very powerful, it’s reality and photographs have been used for a very long time to portray stark reality. And, photographs of stark reality have been used for ages to sell magazines, books, win contests etc. Nothing wrong or immoral there.

          • Agreed. And next to the very powerful content, the photographs are also great from a more technical standpoint. And yes, it is heart-wrenching to watch….

      • and.. here we go again.

        You personal morality has no place in judgment of art.

        Powerful imagery is seldom without controversy, it’s a story.. and a powerful, yet creepy, one.

        • Sorry, but that’s nonsense. I can think of quite a few morally repugnant things would not qualify as art….personal and societal morality is the framework of all artistic expression. If I posted a series of child molestation images wouldn’t I deserve repudiation?

          In so many ways the extreme financial value of the prize in this contest is bringing out sad behavior in both the artists and commentators on this forum.

          • If you arranged for the child molestation to take place, you would. If you could have stopped it, it would almost have been as bad. But if you documented something you could not influence, it would be a different story. But most of us would probably not want to see it anyway, but it is possible it could serve a purpose. All that is obviously academic as the images would be illegal to spread on-line, and some sick minds would probably enjoy them. But otherwise I think AzX1’s comment is relevant.

          • That argument is called reductio ad absurdium or you could go with slippery slope.. either way, your argument is a logical fallacy. We are not talking about a violent crime against a victim here anyway.. nor can we cite exploitation without insight to the mind and situation well beyond two photographs.

            The defining of morality is based on culture. Each culture will vary in their acceptance of a given topic. I posted a couple of photographers in another comment on the main contest page, and what I said there stands true. Whilst I may not understand, appreciate, or enjoy what they do – it is not my place to impose a moral judgment on an accounting nor define for the masses what should be accepted as creative. That is up to the individual.

            Were I to push my taste or morality.. a great deal of ‘modern art’ would live in dumpsters.. fortunately for future generations, I hold no such control.

            Should no photographer ever have documented infanticide, war, murder, etc?

            Come on.

      • If this were the photographer’s baby, it may be his way of grieving. If it were a friend’s, they very well may have requested the photographs as many want something permanent they can keep of something they lost much too early. I’ve been asked several times at funerals to take photographs of the deceased and the mourning family. Everyone has their own way with dealing with very painful situations.

        • I don´t know if that picture is morally wrong, but I do find it exploitative and am really horrified that the majority of stories considered “good enough” to feature in this competition are sad, dreary, and sentimental. There seems to be no depths to which people won´t sink to win a camera: photographing dying relatives, children in hardship, suffering animals… this doesn´t reaffirm my joy in life at all. Where are the simple but telling moments of birthday parties, holidays, daily life? Why is everything so unrelentingly dramatic? It seems that all that´s necessary to win this contest is to go to a slaughterhouse or a hospital.

          • Quote: “There seems to be no depths to which people won´t sink to win a camera: photographing dying relatives, children in hardship, suffering animals… this doesn´t reaffirm my joy in life at all.”

            – I can not see that any of the photographers you are referring to has sunk to any deep, unmoral or unethical place at all. We do not even know if any of the subjects were about to die or any animals were suffering. These pictures are merely telling you a story that might be just fictional. Either way, some of these photographers are great storytellers.

            Quote: “Where are the simple but telling moments of birthday parties, holidays, daily life?”

            – Come on! Thats not how life is for the majority of the worlds population. Being a norwegian who has spent a few years in america I recognize this as a very american approach to life: “If we see no evil – there is no evil´ Lift your head and take a look around you – you will discover a totally different world than what your daily life is…

            Great photographs are provocative! They provoke the minds of the on-lookers. They provoke our thoughts, philosophies, religions, politics, the very perspective of the world around us. Great photographs show us the world as it is outside the bubble we live in. Great photographs make us change our way of behavior and maybe even turn us around so we can find something more valuable to hold on to.

            Surely there are people in this world that are happy from birth to the grave, but it is not so for the majority of the population in this world. I sincerely believe that people need to look at pictures of others struggles etc. etc. We need to hear those stories without happy endings too! Life is not happy for most people…

          • If you think this photograph is exploitative, read Susan Sontag’s On Photography.

            Keep in mind too that the contestants aren’t just “people” but photographers that normally document these circumstances anyway and not just to win a camera. Read the father’s comment below, and as I suspected, he took the photographs as part of coping with the experience. Unfortunately, this wasn’t just a “dramatic” occurrence for him and his wife but part of their daily life; sadly, it is for more people than you think.

    • My story wasn’t there 🙁

      Never mind, I enjoyed it and the finalists deserve their place. Thanks Steve, the competition inspired me to have a go and I am glad I did. I enjoyed the whole process, so please do it again if you can.

      Malcolm

    • I thought this one was the best at telling a story. Very emotional and great imagery. And…. the baby does not need to actually be dead to create the emotion, the imagery speaks for itself. I hope it was only staged!

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