First, I want to congratulate all those photographers who had the courage to submit work. I hope that you'll all take the time to look through the 5,000-plus submissions and learn from each other. I've been learning by looking at my colleagues’ pictures for more than 30 years. And I’m still learning!
The images that rose to the top were those in which the photographer worked with light, composition, and moment to tell a story in a single image. This was a photojournalistic assignment, so all these elements were important—but storytelling was most crucial. Captions are really important, so be sure to include the when, where, why, and how of your images to to give your work context.
I was most impressed by the images that showed compassion and the human spirit. I was least impressed by pictures that seemed to simply record the tragedy of a homeless or destitute person, without any creativity or investment by the photographer.