See the Winners of the “Edit My RAW File” Contest [Announcement]

Last week, I announced an “Edit My Raw File” Contest.  The idea is that I uploaded a photo that I took, and then put the file up for download so that all of us could take a crack at editing the exact same photo.

This was, easily, the most FUN contest we’ve done, because it gave everyone  the opportunity to see MANY different ideas of how to approach the exact same photo.  I got a TON of new ideas on how I can approach my post-processing by seeing how everyone edited the same photo.

There were THOUSANDS of people who entered this contest via Google+ and Pinterest.  I personally looked through each and every photo and chose about 100 of the best photos.  Then, I split up the 100 best photos into three categories: (1) the best edits that left the photo natural, (2) the best photos that made medium strength edits, and then (3) the best composite photos.  Then, we selected one winner from each category so that everyone had an equal chance of winning no matter if you went crazy or just kept it natural.

By the way, many people had their photos “disappear” after adding them to Google+ or Pinterest.  This was because the websites thought the photos were spam since so many of the same photo were being uploaded.  Rest assured, we went through all of these photos and marked them as “not spam” and reviewed them for the contest.

Thank you to all those who participated and made this a fun contest!

Winning photo

Overall Winner – Edited by Donnis Sealey

And the Winner is….

Overall Winner: Donnis Sealey.  We loved this photo because it accomplished all three of the things we wanted to see from a winner: (1) it looks good, (2) there aren’t any technical issues, and (3) it’s creative.   Donnis wins a $100 gift card and a free online photo class.  Donnis, email us at to claim your prize.

UPDATE: Read here to see how Donnis edited the file to achieve the winning results.

Best “Natural” Image: Lekimcol Silver.  After looking at HUNDREDS of variations of the same photo, what we focused on most was the skin smoothing.  Most of the skin smoothing made the photo look downright blurry, but this one was done very nicely (which may be tough to see in the youtube slideshow below).  LeKimcol, email us at to claim your online photography class.

Best Composite Image: Sandy Le.  We loved the pastel colors in this photo, as well as the clever color change of the model’s dress.  While we weren’t so thrilled with the creative blurring, it still was very creative and is our third place winner.  Sandy wins an online photography class from us, which she can claim by emailing us at

Several Honorable Mentions were also selected.  You can see those by viewing the photo below.  In the video, we showed a lot of composites.  While many of the natural photos with just simple edits were beautiful, we chose these photos for the slideshow because we wanted everyone to have the opportunity to see some of the more creative ideas from the group.

You can see a slideshow of our favorite and most creative edits below (or click here if viewing this post via email).

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. says

    gotta say, the last one is my favourite :P

    Any chance we could have links to hi-rez versions? it’d be great for those of us learning retouching to compare and see how the detailed areas were really treated.

  2. Disappointed says

    A little disappointed and shocked, I seen several amazing photos that should of won or at least should of been mentioned. Congrats to the winners though.

  3. also disappointed says

    I’m also disappointed. As I went through all the pictures, I couldn’t help but notice how many people just submitted pictures without having any idea of what they were actually doing, which hurt the people with real talent. Maybe next time you make a submission form with what skill level you are(or think you are)….

    Also, the winner looks like there was some skin softening, armpit touch up, and the obvious 2 second color change on the shirt…seems like the rest of us who actually fixed the photo didn’t have a chance.

  4. Dorian says

    Congratulations to the winners and well done everyone else !
    If you did not win – well don’t be bitter it was for fun!

  5. Stephanie says

    Editing in that background and blending it in with the original picture took time and patience. It was creative. Congrats to the winner, you deserve it – everyone else is just sorry they didn’t think of it!

  6. connieg says

    Congratulations to the winners! I learned a lot doing this and enjoyed seeing how everyone else tackled the photo.
    I’m a little disappointed though, I thought we were going to see how Jim Harmer actually did his edit.

  7. Lindy says

    In reading the instructions for editing, it told us to make her look her best. I disagree with at least one of the photos shown in the video, as they changed her enough so that she looked like an entirely different person from her original photo.

  8. disappointed as well says

    I agree with Disappointed and Also Disappointed. Every single winner or finalist either over edited and left in blatant mistakes, such as not removing spots, not removing the really obvious corner of her bra strap poking out from her shirt, etc., and just slapped something together that didn’t really make the model look her best, like the contest rules required. Going with something “trendy” in your edit instead of editing to make the photo as good as it can be doesn’t teach you anything. It just doesn’t look even remotely good.

  9. Kayla says

    Like all forms of art, what one person thinks is great may not be so great in the eyes of another. That being said, congrats to the winners! Love the blog and the podcast!

  10. Krista says

    There seems to be a lot of buzz over the contest results. My only suggestion would be to have the entries uploaded somewhere where they can’t be seen by everyone until “reveal day”. That way all ideas are original. Thanks for the contest, it was fun.

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