Photo Contest Finalists, March 2011 Contest

After much deliberation by a stellar panel of writer-photographer judges, the top five finalists in the first-ever “What I Saw” Amateur Photo Contest have been selected. Congratulations, finalists!

Now it’s your turn to vote, comment and experience your own chance to win great prizes, as explained below. VOTING NOW CLOSED. See winning photo, voting prizes.


If you vote and leave a comment below, you could win one of three prizes:

  • A copy of New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt’s Pictures of You
  • A copy of debut novelist Therese Walsh’s novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy
  • An 8 x 10 signed print of your choice (on Metallic Finish Paper) from Damien Franco’s photography gallery

All you have to do is vote and comment below (please I.D. the photo you’re commenting on. Thoughtful responses appreciated.). Judges were asked to select the top images that “told a story,” illustrated creativity, clarity and overall “wow-ness.” Which is your favorite? Why did you choose the photo you chose? What stories did you see behind it? Was it difficult to pick a favorite? Why?

Winners will be randomly selected. The grand prize winner of the Amazon certificate is not eligible to receive book or photo prizes (But contest entrants are eligible and encouraged to vote and comment).

Voting open March 21-March 27. Winner announced the week of March 28.

View the fabulous entries submitted by all amateur photographers (and feel free to leave them a note about their inspirational, out-of-this-world images).

Which is your favorite?

  • J. Bonstein ~ Stairway to Heaven (57%, 169 Votes)
  • O. Camejo ~ Ride the Galaxie (18%, 52 Votes)
  • M. Beaudet ~ Ghost Trees reflected in Little Crater Lake (13%, 38 Votes)
  • J. Sommersby ~ How I got over my fear of thunderstorms (11%, 34 Votes)
  • M. Morgan ~ Red Flagged (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 297

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84 Responses to “Contest”

  • avatar Erika Robuck Says:

    These pictures are gorgeous!

  • avatar K. C. Says:

    My favorite is Ride the Galaxy. I love the angle, the grittiness, and overall beauty in the simplicity of the shot.

  • avatar Katcudziff Says:

    Love this pic…great shot!

  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    Love the red flagged photo!

  • avatar NestorB Says:

    J. Sommersby = Awesome

  • avatar D. McCall Says:


  • avatar Rodrick Webb Says:

    Stairway To Heaven, WOW!!! It makes it feel like it’s a physical location that you can go to and visit Heaven whenever you want. Great shot!

  • avatar Sonja J Says:

    Ride the Galaxie! I love the focus, angle, and clarity. Very thoughtful…

  • avatar Lauren Albrice Says:

    J. Sommersby and her lightning, gets my vote. The way she captured that moment in time, amazing!

  • avatar Natalia Sylvester Says:

    Gorgeous pictures! I voted for O. Camejo’s Ride the Galaxie because I love how the headlights seems to be staring at me, and the rust on the car gives you the sense of how many roads and stories it’s seen.

  • avatar Tony Davis Says:

    This is the most professional with how the center-focus of it is on the taillight and the car (Ford Galaxie)and everything else begins to fade out.

  • avatar Tammy R Clark Says:

    The photo is very unique Oscar, it takes me back to childhood days. You have a Great Eye, that’s very rare. Keep moving foreward.

  • avatar Judeth Reed Says:

    I vote for Ghost Trees! The image of the trees reflected in the water makes me think of a surrealistic painting. This photo is unique. “Normal” people would just take a photo of the trees…

  • avatar Tyisha W Says:

    All the pictures are wonderful but I really love Ride the Galaxie. i love old cars. I love how he captured the colors and how he framed the shot. Great job!

  • avatar Nina B Says:

    They’re all beautiful, but #1 “Stairway to Heaven” seems to evoke the beginning of an adventure where I have no idea what will place. I like the openness and suggestion of possibility.

  • avatar Jen Erickson Says:

    An invitation to a daydream. “Stairway to Heaven” is the comforting softness of the shaft of light, framed by the cool calm of the lush ferns. The wooden steps beg for a moment, twirling a leaf in your hand, to have the sun pool down around your shoulders and illuminate your dreams.

  • avatar Didi Says:

    These pics are all great but the first one reminds me of LOTR for some reason.

  • avatar Cynthia Robertson Says:

    Oh, they are all so beautiful! But I like the Zen quality of Stairway. Looks like a lot of others do too 🙂

  • avatar Michele Tater Says:

    Love how the light shines just right onto the stairs giving an eerie, but fanastic look at the same time. Photograph had a great eye to capture this one just right.

  • avatar Suzie Ivy Says:

    Loved all the pictures but the lightning wins for me. It shows the power of mother nature and also her beauty.

  • avatar Julie Says:

    I love Ride the Galaxy! They’re all amazing, but that one stood out to me. The angle, the colors, the contrast… It’s like it came out of movie and I want to see the rest of it.
    I would love that image as the cover of one of my books. It tells a story about the past, but with somewhere to go.
    Hope it gets more votes!

  • avatar Steve Renner Says:

    I voted for Ride the Galaxie. I believe it best fit the theme of this contest in terms of telling a story through an image independent of captions. It made me think about who drove it, where has it has been, how it ended up where it is now, and whether it could be restored to it’s former glory. I think it is also the most technically complete of the finalist in terms of tone, exposure, depth, sharpness, and composition.

  • avatar Jamie Says:

    I love all the photos, but my vote goes to Ride the Galaxie. The photo is stiking on so many levels. I particularly love the combination of rich color with the overall starkness of the image. Just as Steve said above, the picture makes me wonder all kinds of things about this car and how it came to be there. The photo is the start of a what could be an amazing story – or maybe it’s the end of that story. Whichever it is, it’s a wonderful picture. Congratulations to all the finalists! Thanks for creating such an inspiring contest, Melissa!

  • avatar Judy S Says:

    Ride the Galaxie makes my imagination run wild with a story of the car – who owned it, the adventures they had, etc…

  • avatar Libby Says:

    I voted for J.Bonstein Stairway to Heaven!

  • avatar Pandora Says:

    I love “Staiway to Heaven.” Life is being rather harsh on me recently and this photo just evokes the feeling of light and higher being. When you see natural beauty like this, you cant help but think that there is a higher power out there to help get your through. To sucessfully translate this in a photo is difficult and wonderful.

  • avatar KDN Says:

    They are all really great, but my favorite will have to be “Ride the Galaxie”. I love how simply and complex the shot is. It tells the story of life…filled with “grittiness” and beauty all wrapped up in a very unexpected package. Love it.

  • avatar EE Wilder Says:

    Stairway to Heaven reminds me of a trail I took on Maui – can dream I’m starting it again.

  • avatar Gloria Wilson Says:

    I voted for the stairway to Heaven With all the strife in this world we know that God is there-just take the stairs to Christ for comfort.

  • avatar Downith Says:

    They are all wonderful but I like Stairway to Heaven the most. The sunlight streaming through looks like a path straight up to heaven and the light and the light on the bushes makes them seem almost spiritual.

  • avatar Erin Says:

    I think my favorite is Ride the Galaxy. It’s gritty and makes you want to know the story and the people who drove it!

  • avatar Rachna Chhabria Says:

    My favourite is

    J. Bonstein ~ Stairway to Heaven

    The picture depicts many hidden emotions. It could be a secret pathway to a mysterious temple, it could be Divine Light falling as Grace, it could be a place where two lovers meet secretly, it can also be the Stairway to Heaven.