Through Our Readers’ Eyes

SMITHSONIAN’s second annual photo contest generates more than 30,000 entries

After a daylong drive through Maui, Maize and his wife, Kim, were pulling into a hotel parking space when he discovered the head of a green anole lizard "peeking around the edge of a leaf, I shot about three, four pictures, but [this] one was my favorite." Howard Maize
"I was bored waiting for a bus on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, so I started taking photos of people sitting on the benches. When the bus came, the benches emptied out and I noticed the beautiful curve and color of the bench and concrete. I missed the bus because I couldn't stop taking photos." Jane Linders
"I really needed a haircut, so i stepped into Benny White's Arco Barber Shop. I sat down in that old, red chair and received one of the most attentive and quality haircuts of my life. Afterward I thanked White and asked him if he wouldn't mind me taking his portrait." Joshua Dudley Greer
During a visit to Cambodia's Angkor Wat, Goodwin saw the bullet holes from the country's civil wars above where "two young monks [were] talking and laughing quietly. The peacefulness of their expressions in the middle of an 850-year-old temple made time irrelevant." Jeff Goodwin

Some photographs are happy accidents, others the painstaking result of careful planning and even years of practice. Some are intimate portraits, some sweeping landscapes. But each successful photograph is a personal take on the world. As you'll see in these pages, the range of subjects that caught our readers' eyes is almost as varied as the photographers themselves.

When SMITHSONIAN held its first-ever amateur photo contest last year, the more than 12,000 entries convinced us we were on to something. This year's response is even more exciting. Right before the contest deadline—New Year's Eve—our Web site was logging up to 26 submissions per minute. All in all, we received more than 30,000 photographs, from all 50 U.S. states and 92 countries—California to Kyrgyzstan, New York to New Zealand.

From this wealth of images, our editors chose 50 finalists and 100 runners-up in five categories: The Natural World, Travel, Culture and the Arts, People, and Americana. (It wasn't easy!) The finalists are teachers, students, lawyers, retirees, engineers and actors, ages 19 to 85. Most are passionate about photography. Their work, along with that of the runners-up, can be seen on our Web site. And the 50 finalists' photographs are on display through September 5 in a special exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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