Photo contests always seem to be very subjective things to me where more often than not it seems that a ‘good’ photo is one that matches the judges own person style or taste and not one that necessarily has objective merit to it. I certainly sense some of this in the results of the National Geographic Traveler photo contest.
For example, I find the first place photo sort of mundane and the second place shot too predictable. However, I find merit prize 5 and merit prize 8 to be much more interesting. This merit prize shot is exceptional for its spontaneous nature and probably would have suffered if it had been staged.
Don’t get me wrong, they are all great shots; I’m not sure that some of them are ‘all that’. Which brings us back to the subjectivity thing.