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Announcing The Spirit Of Triathlon Photo Contest Winners

Paul Phillips announces the winners of the "Spirit of Triathlon Photo Contest."

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Two months ago, Competitive Image’s Paul Phillips launched the “Spirit of Triathlon Contest” and asked for amateur photographers to send in their favorite triathlon-related images. Today, he’s announcing the top-three submissions and sharing the top-20 images with Triathlete.com. See the analysis and announcement of the three photos below.

In January our Spirit of Triathlon Contest began with:

“Everyone who spends time around triathlons and triathletes understand there is a special spirit that surrounds the sport. Thousands of triathletes are racing every weekend and tens of thousands of photos are brilliantly shot showing off their amazing efforts.”

Now two months and over 100 entries later, we’re ready to share the top-20 entries. Before I announce the top finishers, here’s an idea of what I was looking for.

A successful photo must tell a story, be visually appealing and emotionally stirring. The image must immediately draw the eye of the viewer to its key element and must leave a lasting impression.

There are three critical elements in achieving a successful photo – content, composition and color.

Content is capturing a peak moment, which may be a spectacular sunrise, a close-up view on the bike or a battle for the finish line. This is the story, it is not an image of random activity; it has direction, flow and meaning. Content may also convey a sense of place or time. This is what the viewer will relate to and remember. Keep in mind that if you are able to capture this moment and it is out of focus – you missed the shot!

Composition is a key element of a great photo. As spectators we see everything from eye-level, but from a photographic standpoint most photos from eye-level tend to be fairly mundane. The best way to view something is from an angle nobody else gets to see. It is important to have a nice, clean background to avoid distracting the view from the image.

Color may be the tonal variations in the literal sense, but there is also an emotional factor. I have galleries on my website dedicated to “celebrate” and “suffer” – these images are for pure emotion.

With this in mind, here are the top three photos!

RELATED: How To Take The Perfect Triathlon Photo


The winning image is entitled “Swimming into the Sunrise” and was submitted by Debbie Faulkner from Nottingham, England. A sunrise start is one of the most inspiring times in triathlon. It is the only time during the race when you have a substantial group of athletes together. Here the group has one lead swimmer, captured between strokes. Adding to the context is an earlier wave swimming back with much greater distance between the swimmers. The slight fog rising from the lake adds to the atmosphere of the morning environment so you can almost feel the chill in the air. The image is visually pleasing and draws the viewer in to have a closer look at the group.

The number 2 image is entitled “Anticipation” by Dave Martinez from Atlanta, Ga. and is from the Mountain Madness 70.3 race in Ellijay, Ga. This is clearly a view that cannot be seen by a spectator. Hats off to Dave for being able to shoot the athletes’ view of the start.

Rounding out the podium is “Second Place Suffering” by Terry Van Oort from Ankeny, Iowa and was taken at the 2012 HyVee 5150 U.S. Championship. This image features four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper wearing his USA Triathlon race kit with its red, white and blue side panel. Hunter is leaning over a stanchion covered in red, white and blue fabric, perfectly mimicking his race kit. Those who know me know that I believe that every shot is a lucky shot. No matter how great your planning, there was no way to anticipate that Hunter will stop and rest at exactly that spot setting up the perfect background for the shot. Terry did a great job in recognizing it!

Your Think Tank Photo gear will be shipped out to you shortly, congratulations!

The remaining 17 images are presented in the slide show and are in order of the photographer’s last name.

Thank you all for participating. Race season is starting and it’s time for more photos!

PHOTOS: Spirit Of Triathlon Photo Contest Top 20