Fall signals the start of contest season for the Gazette photo staff. Iowa Newspaper Association and Inland Press both have early fall deadlines, so last week we laid out prints of our favorite photos from the year to choose our staff entries. It can be inspiring to see the work of my colleagues, but it’s occasionally frustrating too, to discover that a favorite photo was never printed. Only photos that have been published (either print or online, depending on the contest) are eligible, so until we started publishing galleries online with more frequency earlier this year, many of our photos languished in the archive. The photo above has only appeared once, as far as I can tell — on my own oft-neglected blog – but this image has stayed in my mind since last summer. Her expression and hands reaching toward the children below were just perfect.