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Last month’s photo challenge theme was “Fun Phone Photos.” Some say the best camera is the one you have with you all the time — for many of us, our phone. And, while the technical quality of our phones is not that hot, it is getting better all the time. Personally I’ve really enjoyed playing and practicing composition with my phone camera. I hope you all enjoyed this challenge, too. Our guest judge this month was April’s winner, Anne Murray, whose first-place pick is below… ** First Place goes to tpcooking for “Cellular Sea” ** Second Place goes to wdesign519 for “Old Watering Can” ** Third Place goes to Sparmley for “Deeper_Underground” ** Honorable Mention goes to jurphotographer for “Graduation” FIRST PLACE – CELLULAR SEA This photo really played to the theme. Not only did the photographer capture it on their phone, but the photo’s subject uses a phone to photograph the scene before him. The title “Cellular Sea” was very apt, too. I like how we’re drawn into the picture by the composition of the boy looking into the frame and the lovely lighting. Our eyes are automatically drawn toward the beautiful brighter blue-turquoise light at the top right, and you can just imagine the busy movement of the fish. I also like how you can just see the edge of the boy’s face and glasses, with the light catching his silhouette, as he’s intent on taking his photo. SECOND PLACE — OLD WATERING CAN This shot struck me right away. I love the “painterly” quality of it. It looks like a fine art piece — the still life, the vine-textured wall, the colors, and all. If I were the photographer, this is a shot I would try to recreate with my big camera. The processing effect that the app gave is really nice. THIRD PLACE — DEEPER UNDERGROUND The app worked great with this shot, too, giving a lovely border. The green color, the curve of the stairs, and the motion blur of the woman all come together to make this a fun phone photo for me. With our phones, it’s great to let things that might otherwise be a technical problem, be a plus to the shot. Phone photos and apps have the advantage of restoring creative joy, surprise, and mystery. HONORABLE MENTION – GRADUATION While technically not a “phone photo” (I think), this is an exceedingly clever take on the theme. I love the focal point being on the hand and the phone in the foreground, with the graduates soft in the background. It’s a bit contrast-y, and I might try to brighten it up a bit in processing (it actually looks as though it was darkened by the photographer), but I love it. It’s a great conceptual idea that would work well for stock, too. Congratulations to each of our winners!! The first-place winner will get a $30 gift certificate to the AWAI E-Bookstore, and all winners will be entered into the Hall of Fame to compete for the $2,000 Grand Prize in October. Remember, this month’s theme is “Clouds.” Submit your photo by 8:00 a.m. EST, Monday, June 27. If you’re a first-time user, you’ll need to register first on the “register” link on the right side bar. Once you have a username and password, click “Enter to Win” to upload your photo. Only one photo entry per challenge. [ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Perry from Portland, Oregon, specializes in people photography, what she calls documentary or lifestyle portraits. She is known especially for her imaging of children. Shelly’s concern for people is reflected both in her sense of purpose and the images she produces. Her images have been seen all over the globe on music CD covers, books, magazines, catalogs, websites, ad campaigns and even on TV. Her work has also appeared in several local exhibits and gallery shows.] [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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