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Winners of The Rotarian photo contest

In this year’s photo contest, we received more than 600 entries from 59 countries and geographical areas — from Argentina to Zimbabwe and many places in between. Through your photographs, we traveled to a glacial lagoon in Iceland and a mountainside in Bolivia. We saw Rotarians working on projects and met the people they encountered along the way. Taken together, the photos you sent us create a composite portrait of our world and the ways Rotarians experience it.

Our judge, George Steinmetz, brings to the task his decades of experience traveling and photographing the world. Steinmetz shoots from the elevated perspective of a paraglider, where the landscape almost becomes abstract art, so he can appreciate a photo both for its aesthetic qualities and for the story it tells. In addition to the winners and honorable mentions in this issue, you’ll see photos from the contest in The Rotarian throughout the year.

First Place

Photographer: Santosh Kale
Rotary Club of Shirol, India
Location: Pandharpur, India

Steinmetz: I love the energy of this picture. It documents the flow of humanity experiencing the Pandharpur Wari pilgrimage and shows the architecture of this Indian site, the vibrancy of its storefronts. I also like that the photographer had the prescience to wait for his subject and took an unconventional approach by shooting the action with a time exposure.

Second Place

Photographer: Chin Fung Hou
Spouse of Yeong Hsiou Chen, Rotary Club of Taipei Hwachung, Taiwan
Location: Taipei, Taiwan

Steinmetz: The photographer made creative use of what many would consider a technical problem — raindrops on the lens front. Most people think great photos need good weather, but pros will tell you that bad weather is a photographer’s best friend. This picture of Taipei is very original and impressionistic.

Third Place

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

Steinmetz: This photograph perfectly captures a public event at the Palio di Siena, a twice-annual horse race in the heart of the city. The rider’s expression and the faces in the foreground convey a lot of emotion, but then your eye travels around the image and you see the context of the town square. Framing on a tilt makes it feel like you are part of the scene, being jostled in the crowd. It’s a great way to capture the energy of the moment.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Yeong Hsiou Chen
Rotary Club of Taipei Hwachung, Taiwan
Location: Keelung, Taiwan

Steinmetz: This picture has a wonderful way of showing calm in the middle of an urbanized seaport. I like the subtle accents of color framed between a monochromatic sea and sky, and the surprising blurring of the boat in motion in the foreground.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Tono Valdes
Rotary Club of Guatemala Sur, Guatemala
Location: Guatemala City

Steinmetz: Sometimes you like a picture for what it doesn’t show. Here, you can’t see the ground or the background, just the emotions. What the smoke conceals creates mystery. In a way, it is like the mystery of religion itself. And this is a very sensuous photograph; you can almost smell it.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Roberta Kayne
Rotary Club of Dublin A.M., Ohio
Location: Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Steinmetz: We shouldn’t project human feelings onto animals, but you can read the child-parent relationship in the postures here. I think of times I have seen this sort of scene in the wild, with bears on the shore catching salmon.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Lee Won-Geol
Rotary Club of Daegu-Chungsan, Korea
Location: Andong, Korea

Steinmetz: The few bits of color make an otherwise monochromatic scene come alive. The snow adds beautiful texture to the traditional architecture, and the leaves and branches in the foreground create a nice frame. This is a landscape you want to explore.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Chris McDiven
Rotary Club of Sydney, Australia
Location: Niagara Falls, New York

Steinmetz: I’ve seen this kind of situation, a rainbow created by mist, many times in photographs, but this is one of the finest versions that I’ve come across. Sometimes simplicity is best. I love the placement of the boat at the end of the rainbow. It’s simple, powerful, and unexpected.

Honorable mention

Photographer: Roberta Kayne
Rotary Club of Dublin A.M., Ohio
Location: Westerville, Ohio

Steinmetz: Newspaper photographers are asked every year to photograph something that conveys the idea of patriotism for Memorial Day; this is an excellent version. The lines of flags create perspective and depth, which makes the person walking through stand out.

Get ready for your close-up

The next edition of The Rotarian’s photo contest will open on 1 October 2019 and close on 15 December 2019. For more information, go to

Meet our judge

Our judge, George Steinmetz, brings to the task his decades of experience traveling and photographing the world. Read story.