Year over year, people have been taking great photos with just their iPhones, so Apple decided to put users to the test with their Shot on iPhone Challenge. Enthusiasts had a little over two weeks to submit their best iPhone photography for consideration, and Apple has just announced the 10 winners who will see their imagery used online, on billboards, and in select retail stores over the next year.
The winning photographs range from dreamy landscapes to bright and bold abstract compositions, with each showing off the technical prowess of the iPhone. While there are plenty of professional photographers in the mix, the contest was really open to everyone—professionals and amateurs. In fact, stay-at-home mom Elizabeth Scarrott couldn’t contain her excitement at being named among the winners. “I never dreamed of any of this happening when I entered this contest,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m just a stay at home mom who enjoys taking photos on my iPhone, so being selected with this group of 9 professional photographers is such an honor!”
Entries were judged by an incredibly qualified panel of judges that included Pete Souza, chief official White House photographer for President Obama; Luísa Dörr, a photographer who shot TIME’s Firsts issue exclusively on iPhone; and Arem Duplessis, former design director of The New York Times Magazine. Also on the panel were a number of members of Apple’s marketing and software development teams.
Take a look at the winning images and see what the judges had to say about each “Shot on iPhone” photograph.
Brooks Kraft, professional photographer who covered the Bush and Obama administrations for TIME says: “A portrait that captures the wonderment of childhood in a beautiful setting. Great composition that shows both the personality of the child and the experience in the surroundings.”
Pete Souza says: “Nice portrait and use of background to provide context. The placement of the child’s face is in an optimal place—lining her up so the background directly behind her is clean and not distracting. The setting is a familiar—I’ve probably stood in this exact spot. But the picture is not like any I’ve seen from this location.”
Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, says: “A reflection that looks like a painting, two worlds have collided. You are compelled to think about where and how this photo was taken, the bird flying in the corner provides the single sign of life in an otherwise surreal composition.”
Chen Man, Chinese contemporary visual artist and entrepreneur, says: “Distortion and reflection at a strange angle—this photo creates a fantastic feeling.”
Jon McCormack, an accomplished photographer who currently leads Apple’s camera software team, says: “This image is very well thought through and executed. The background pattern holds the image together and the repeated smaller versions of that pattern in the water droplets create a lot of visual interest. The creative use of depth of field here is excellent.”
Sebastien Marineau-Mes, vice president of Software at Apple, says: “Very unique composition and color palette, playing to the strengths of iPhone XS. What I find most interesting is the background pattern, uniquely magnified and distorted in every one of the water droplets. I’m drawn to studying and trying to elucidate what that pattern is.”
Austin Mann, iPhone photographer, filmmaker, and creative, says: “This image took a lot of patience and great timing … with the iPhone’s zero shutter lag and Smart HDR, we’re able to see both the raccoon’s eyes and the deep shadows inside the log … something that would have previously been nearly impossible with natural light.”
Phil Schiller says: “The stolen glance between this raccoon/thief and photographer is priceless, we can imagine that it is saying ‘if you back away slowly no one has to get hurt.’ A nice use of black and white, the focus on the raccoon and the inside of the hollow log provides an organic movement frozen in time.”
Sebastien Marineau-Mes says: “Love how the heart shaped water puddle frames the subject, capturing a glimpse of the world as the subject hurriedly walks past.”
Brooks Kraft says: “A unique perspective and a new take on the popular subject of shooting reflections. I like that the subject is evident, but you are not really sure how the photo was taken. The puddle is the shape of a heart, with nice symmetry of the subject. The depth of field that iPhone has in regular mode made this image possible, a DSLR would have had a difficult time keeping everything in focus.”
Kaiann Drance, Apple senior director in Worldwide Product Marketing, says: “Looks like a simple scene but a good choice of using black and white to elevate it with a different mood. Helps to bring out the dramatic contrast in the clouds and the surrounding landscape.”
Luísa Dörr says: “I feel like this landscape was treated like an old portrait. The texture of the mountains evokes an old wrinkled face. Portraits and landscapes are the oldest way of creative representation by humans. There’s something about it that belongs to the realms of the subconscious mind, and this is mainly what appeals me of this picture; the part that I’m not able to explain.”
Austin Mann says: “I love how accessible this image is: You don’t have to travel to Iceland to capture something beautiful, it’s right under your nose. The way the lines intersect, the vibrant color, the sense of old and new … this is just a great image.”
Luísa Dörr says: “I like the simplicity of this image, the composition, light, details, everything looks good. Then you see one small line that looks wrong and makes me think what happened, where is this place, who was there. For me a good image is not only one that is strong or beautiful, but makes you think about it—and keep thinking.”
Kaiann Drance says: “Gorgeous dynamic range. There’s detail throughout the photo in the meadow, trees, and clouds. Beautiful deep sky and pleasing color overall.”