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Winners of The Rotarian photo contest

Steve McCurry faced a daunting challenge in judging this year’s photo contest. We had over 600 entries from more than 50 countries. We saw inspiring images of teamwork, powerful images of the people Rotarians are helping, breathtaking images of nature. In addition to the three winners and six honorable mentions on the following pages, you’ll see photos submitted by your fellow Rotarians in issues of The Rotarian throughout the year. Let these images inspire you, as McCurry suggests, to get out there and photograph with your heart and with your distinctive vision. And start gathering your best photos for next year’s contest – look for details in the fall.


First Place

Photographer: Chun-Ta Lin
Rotary E-Club of District 3490, Taiwan
Location: Manila, Philippines

McCurry: This photograph gives us a powerful visual juxtaposition that tells a story about society. Below, the people are poor, they’re desperate, they’re living in this precarious way. Above, people are jetting from place to place, on vacation, flying to meetings. The image makes us reflect on what it must be like to live there, with the jet noise a constant reminder of that social inequality, and it does that visually with the contrast of above and below.

Second Place

Photographer: Scot Sargeant
Rotary E-Club of San Diego Global, Calif. 
Location: Quito, Ecuador

McCurry: Here’s a familiar subject, a rainbow, but with an unusual twist. The dark, dramatic sky gives way to the blue sky, and then the wonderful light hitting this town. We know rainbow photos, but this one gives us the contrast of the ominous dark top and the glowing light on the city.

Third Place 

Photographer: Doug Nicotera
Rotary Club of Hershey, Pa.
Location: Ik Kil, Mexico

McCurry: This image feels almost surreal or magical. We don’t quite know what is going on. People are floating in water, but it almost looks like they could be falling, and they’re so small in an image dominated by the vines. It’s all a bit disorienting at first glance, but that first moment of ambiguity and mystery is part of its attractive quality.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Jose II Ramos
Rotary Club of Marikina, Philippines
Location: Imus, Philippines

McCurry: Once again we have a powerful use of juxtaposition. Above, these heroic figures in dramatic poses, and below the everyday, the bicyclists, but above and below we have the visual echo of the flag. It’s that repetition within difference that makes it powerful.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Saravana Raj
Rotary Club of Madurai North, India
Location: Madurai, India

McCurry: This image has a nice sense of action captured in the moment and a sense of an ongoing story, but it is also a bit abstracted, almost like a Renaissance painting of a biblical scene – wrestling with the devil, or the eternal struggle. There’s a sense of epic struggle in the human form.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Lisa Graydon
Spouse of Michael Graydon of the Rotary Club of Mullumbimby, Australia
Location: Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar

McCurry: This is a great example of how to use less color to make a successful color photograph. There’s so much white, which makes the pink of the robes stand out. Color is often best when there is less. Too many colors can be distracting. The repetition of the shapes gives it visual interest.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Jason Whiting
Rotary Club of Lloydminster, Sask.
Location: Southwest of Lloydminster in Alberta

McCurry: We have all seen millions of lightning pictures, but that central area of light from which the lightning emanates makes it unusual. What is that strange area of light? I also like that in a lightning photograph, we are still solidly anchored in the landscape, with the ground in the picture.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Robert Alan Williams
Rotary Club of Reno Central, Nev.
Location: Virginia Lake, Nev.

McCurry: There’s a strong sense of visual composition here, an interesting design stacking the ducks in the picture. The color is exactly right, with the muted color palette giving the orange of the duck’s feet extra pop. The visual rhythm – the duck, the duck’s reflection, and another duck – just works.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Helena Dahlin

Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime, Calif.

Location: Lompoc, Calif. 

The dramatic action of people skydiving is naturally interesting, but here the photographer adds the message about polio. The expression on her face is friendly and appealing, inviting us to be inspired. A lot of planning went into this, and the story behind the making of this picture catches your imagination.


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