See the Winning Photo from the “Unplanned Photo” Contest

In Features by Jim Harmer

The “Unplanned Photo” contest was a huge success.  We had hundreds of entries from photographers who went out and took an unplanned photo this week.  By “unplanned” we simply mean that it wasn't a shoot you were planning, but by keeping your camera with you and looking for opportunities, you found things to shoot.

And the Winner Is…

There were many great entries, but we chose Andrew Hale's photo of a brother and sister on a hammock as the winner.  From a technical standpoint, this is not a flawless photo.  The green is far too saturated for my taste, and Dustin wasn't a fan of the blown out areas in the photo; however, the overall impact of the photo was enough for us to look past the technical things that only photographers notice and enjoy the mood of the photo.

Andrew said this about the photo: “At a family gathering this last week my mother requested that we try to get an action jump shot together. So after many takes (due to poor jump timing as a group), my brother and sister crashed on the hammock to take a break.  With the sun setting behind it trees, it added an almost surreal feel to the backyard. Took this with my Nikon D3100 and a 35mm lens and did some minor raw file post processing (Manual mode, f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/160 shutter).”

Andrew won the grand prize of a Tamron 18-270mm lens!  Andrew, email us at [email protected] to let us know what mount you want (Canon, Nikon, or Sony) and also your mailing address.

From a technical perspective, this photo isn't perfect; however, it has enough of an emotional impact that it stuck out from the crowd of photos.

From a technical perspective, this photo isn't perfect; however, it has enough of an emotional impact that it stuck out from the crowd of photos.

There were many other excellent photos submitted to the contest, and we want to share some of those as well.

Second Place Goes to Kati Toy

At first look, we had a hard time believing that this photo was unplanned, but we read the full story from the photographer and it really convinced us that this was definitely one of the top photos from the contest.  This photo was taken during a night fire that Kati witnessed. The firefighter is being illuminated by headlights from a vehicle. The firefighter didn't even know the photo was taken.

If you look at the photo large, it does look a bit soft especially around the feet, but for an unplanned photo… this is fantastic work.

Kati has won a free online photography class from us at PhotoClasses.com.  Kati, email us at [email protected] and let us know which one you'd like to take.

Second place winner - Kati Toy.  This photo was taken during a night fire that Kati witnessed.  The firefighter is being illuminated by headlights from a vehicle.  The firefighter didn't know the photo was taken.

Second place winner – Kati Toy.

Third Place Goes to Michelle Salsman

We really loved the lighting in this photo, coupled with the expression and fun of a little girl.  Photos of random things you see on the street make for great photography, but photos of little moments with family make memories… and photos.

Michelle had this to say about how she took the shot: “My daughters and I had just gotten home from dinner out.  I decided to run our sprinkler to water the grass.  My daughter asked if she could run through the sprinkler.  I sighed and answered fine.  Then I saw a great opportunity, especially with the direction of the sun hitting the drops of water.  This photo was taken with my Nikon D7000, ISO 100, 190mm, f/4.8, 1/400sec.”

Third place winner was Michelle Salsman with her fantastic and fun shot of her daughter.

Third place winner was Michelle Salsman with her fantastic and fun shot of her daughter.

Michelle has won a free online photography class from us at PhotoClasses.com.  Michelle, email us at [email protected] and let us know which one you'd like to take.

Honorable Mentions

In the running for the finals was April Jasmine Turco (see her photo here), David Nguyen (see his photo here), Deb Harmon (see her photo here), and Shane Hintze (See his photo of the wheat field here).

Thank you!  To all who participated in the contest, to Tamron for supporting the Improve Photography community by giving away the lens as a prize, and for those of you who put up with the Google+ interface to submit your photo.  We'll be doing our next contest through Flickr instead.


About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. He blogs about how to start an internet business on IncomeSchool.com..