Competition Honors Best Travel Photos Captured On A Smartphone

 @MarkJohansonIBT on December 12 2013 5:45 AM

Who could have predicted five years ago that snapping cell phone pictures would go from tacky to trendy? Who could have guessed 16 months ago that grainy photos would become more popular than high-resolution pixs? There’s no denying that in the blink of an eye the smartphone has turned the everyman into an avid photographer, which is why it should come as little surprise that there are now photo competitions catering exclusively at shots snapped on your cellular.

One of the first to latch onto the trend was Celebrity Cruises UK, which announced the winners of its #SmartSnaps competition earlier this week. Celebrity created its contest after its survey of 1,000 travelers earlier this year found that 67 percent of them now use their mobile phones as a camera while on vacation. A competition for budding smartphone photographers, it decided, was not only relevant but also long overdue.

Like any proper photo competition, Celebrity lined up an impressive coterie of world-renowned photographers, including photojournalist Ian Berry, environmental photographer Art Wolfe, movie camera-operator Massimo Vitali and documentary photographer Stuart Franklin.

After much deliberation, the eclectic panel awarded Briton Zoe King top honors for her colorful snapshot of the Gangaramaya Viharaya Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka. “This is a very complex image, with a lot going on -- color, line, repetition and movement. This complexity is what makes it interesting and draws me into the scene,” judge Wolfe noted in an announcement.

King said she snapped the shot while traveling in South Asia with her boyfriend. “We were very lucky that when we visited the temple it was decorated with the Buddhist flags,” she explained. “I remember crouching down to take the photo but couldn’t really see it on my phone until afterwards as it was so sunny. Later on, whilst browsing through my photos, this one really stood out to me as I loved the contrast of the bright sky and flags with the Buddhist statues.”

King will now become Celebrity Cruises’ photo ambassador for 2014, and she will embark on a free 14-night voyage through Scandinavia and Russia in May. Five runners-up will hop aboard Celebrity Eclipse for a photography workshop with one of the judges, Franklin, whose iconic 1989 shot of a man defying a tank in Tiananmen Square won him the coveted World Press Photo Award.

Scroll through the slideshow above for a look at the winning shot and the runners up.

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