I've spent literally my whole day on this. Nearly 1300 entrants in this one category, and doing the math that means there were 1000 entries that did not make it. Also, it's important to note that the initial screening is done by me alone, which means it can be very subjective (meaning I may or may not like it, someone else might do just the opposite).
I've been getting a lot of feedback, most of it good, but I can see there are many people who are upset in that they feel they are going against "pros". I am going to reject this for a number of reasons. One of which a 16 year old non-pro won last year. Ive also seen some pretty awful work done by pros, and amazing work done by beginners. Once the technical side is out of the way, it is all about artistic creativity. Also, it would be an absolute nightmare for a pro to win, simply because pros are not supposed to enter in the divisions in which they specialize, and if they did end up winning, (even after we check out the names of the winners before handing out prizes) it would pretty much make them look like cheaters. Especially if we were to find out after the fact. (and yes for example portrait photographers can enter in other divisions no problem).
Same is true for those who have used the same images in other contests. I really do my best to screen entries out and try to keep it fair, but with 6000+ entries, it is possible for something to slip by. Additionally, this contest is about being YOUR best. I wont give you a prize for being an amateur or mediocre.
If your image didn't make it, please do not take this personally. Look at all of the amazing images that did and ask yourself how you can improve? I am learning so many wonderful ideas from what I see in judging- things I would have never thought of. Its really a huge blessing for everyone to learn from everyone else and it should be a positive experience even if you do not get nominated or win.
I hope to have this contest every year, which means you can learn from your mistakes and start shooting for the next contest today! You have a whole year to improve!
BTW- There are 2 shots in here that are ABSOLUTE "show-stoppers". I gasped when I first saw them. Which ones do you think they were?
Great work to everyone who entered. There were literally hundreds I wanted to include, but had to be brutal on the judging to get it down to 300.