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Common Ground: Rotary Magazine 2021 Photo Awards

In a time of separation, our winning photographers used their cameras to make connections

It was a challenging year for photographers. Once the pandemic hit, travel plans had to be changed or canceled. That was reflected in many of the submissions for Rotary magazine’s 2021 photo awards: Many more photos than usual were taken close to home, sometimes as close as the backyard. We did see breathtaking images of some photographers’ journeys, many from the days before the pandemic limited travel. Others took this year to experiment with extreme close-ups of a flower petal or a bird in flight. Many photos captured the way COVID-19 has transformed our world and our daily lives. And, perhaps reflecting the fundamental optimism of Rotarians, there were many images of hope, joy, and simple beauty.

Our judge, photojournalist Barbara Davidson, evaluated the photographs with an exacting eye. “I look for use of color as an element of composition, I look for degrees of tones in black-and-white images, and I look for strong composition and an advanced level of photography as craft,” Davidson says. But the technical achievement has to be in service of something. “The images that stand out invite one to linger on the photograph and successfully inspire an emotional response.”

In addition to the winners and honorable mentions that appear in this issue, the magazine will feature more of the photos submitted by our readers throughout the coming year.


First place

Photographer: Hansruedi Frutiger
Rotary Club of Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Location: Yuanyang County, Yunnan, China


Second place

Photographer: Luca Venturi
Rotary Club of Siena Est, Italy
Location: Siena, Italy

Third place

Photographer: Randy Nickerson
Rotary Club of Oshawa, Ontario
Location: Longsheng County, China

Honorable mentions


  1. Photographer: In-Hyuk Song - Rotary Club of Daegu-Dongshin, Korea. Location: Daegu, Korea

  2. Photographer: Krysia Mager - Rotary Club of Batavia, New York. Location: Monterey, California

  3. Photographer: Ting Yu Yu, Spouse of Yi-Cheng Chen of the Rotary Club of Taipei Asia Link, Taiwan. Location: Miaoli County, Taiwan

  4. Photographer: M A Taher - Rotary Club of Sonargaon Dhaka, Bangladesh. Location: Sonargaon, Bangladesh

  5. Photographer: Luke Stango - Rotary Club of Jackson, New Jersey. Location: Havana, Cuba

  6. Photographer: Beate Rosalie Holzwarth - Rotary Club of Bad Dürkheim, Germany. Location: Northern Tanzania

  7. Photographer: Rick Rogoway - Rotary Club of Clackamas, Oregon. Location: Sunriver, Oregon

  8. Photographer: Geetanjali Dhar - Rotary Club of E-Connect, India. Location: Mechuka Valley, India

  9. Photographer: Steve Begnoche - Rotary Club of Ludington, Michigan. Location: Ludington, Michigan

Get ready for your close-up

The next edition of Rotary’s photo awards will open on 1 October and close on 15 December. For more information, go to

This story originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Rotary magazine.

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