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RESULTS: ‘The Portrait’

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Our fourth and final “super-judged” photo contest for 2012 was titled ‘The Portrait’, and we were honored to have legendary photographer Albert Watson be its head judge. Albert shares his thoughts about what makes a great portrait, and the final results follow…

“For me, great portrait photography can have many characteristics, but one essential one has to be memorability. So as I went through all of the finalists many times over, the most memorable images to me were the most powerful.

“Portrait photography can fall into many categories: iconic studio, iconic reportage, natural reportage, etc… It can be observational, or the photograph can be a result of a direct, intense relationship between the subject and photographer.

“Lighting, natural or artificial, can also play a major part, and ultimately for me: the final printed image, which in my opinion should always be handled by the photographer himself.

“Overall, the standard of entries submitted to this contest was excellent.”

— Albert Watson

(click here for the Gallery of all submitted images)
(click here for the Winners Showcase for this contest series)
(click here for the PhoozL Points tally for this contest series)
(click here for this contest’s Instructions & Rules and information about the Judge)

Results…

(NOTE: click on the images for larger views)
 

Grand Prize (1st Place Overall)
“Save Our Earth”
by aliusmanwahyuhidayat
Judge’s Comment: “Simple, yet not so simple. Why is he without a shirt? Why is he holding a crushed globe? Is he questioning the photographer? Is he nervous or confident? This picture is surreal yet is as simple as a passport picture. It has all the essence of a great portrait. Even after seeing this image only once and looking at 100 others, I remembered it clearly. Well done.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

(NOTE: the Grand Prize is a very special, 1:1 communication with judge Albert Watson about this winner’s photographic work. Winner also receives a custom icon for posting on sites and blogs.)

 

2nd Place Overall
“Alvaro Nunez”
by Carlos-cespedes
Judge’s Comment: “This image has beautiful color, it’s graphic, minimal, and almost has a religious quality to it. This lighting is exquisite, with only his face ‘apparently’ fractionally above the surface. Any photographer looking at this simple image might say I could have done that, but just try! Well done.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

(The 2nd Place Prize is a free book voucher from Course Technology PTR from their great Digital Photography & Video book category. Winner also receives a custom icon for posting on sites and blogs.)

 

3rd Place Overall
“Child on Fire”
by zarnoosheh
Judge’s Comment: “Sometimes textural events like the pigment dust festivals in India (Holi), dust storm pictures from the Sahara, or religious festivals in the Mediterranean can be an easy target for photographers. A lot of the visual energy is already taken care of, all you have to do is hit the shutter and you should get something. This image is a different story. Yes, it’s full of texture, but the combination of the child’s positioning and the adults’ hands contrasting with the child’s, give the picture an other-worldly appearance overall. It’s unusual to see a portrait like this being framed with six hands. Excellent contrast and color. Well done.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

(The 3rd Place Prize is a free, one-year gift subcription to APERTURE magazine. Winner also receives a custom icon for posting on sites and blogs.)

 


Honorable Mentions

Six more great images chosen by the judge in the Honorable Mention category (click here to see the Gallery of all submitted images)…

 

“Fortune”
by Anatolie Poiata
Judge’s Comment: “Of all the pictures I saw, this picture absolutely captures the soul of this child. The child, of course, looks like a child, but look again, and the face has maturity. I would have rated this shot even higher had the composition been more iconic. This could easily have been achieved by reframing this image and adding contrast. I would like to be closer to this child visually, but it’s definitely a moving image.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

 

“Gaze”
by Ayan Mukherjee
Judge’s Comment: “Immediate, direct, great color, lighting is terrific. What is he licking?”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

 

“Previous Birthday”
by ekambourian
Judge’s Comment: “One of the few environmental portraits that I saw, and definitely the best of the genre. The picture is full of mystery. Are those birthday balloons? Who is the woman at the door? What’s in his hand? Why is the chair at the back wrapped? Yet, in all of this confusion, the portrait is crystal clear; the man’s somber head framed perfectly by the dark armchair. Great image.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

 

“Ozzy”
by ilona.B
Judge’s Comment: “One of the most art-driven images. Who says dogs don’t have a soul? Terrific color, strange composition. The presentation could be slightly stronger, but the image is striking. Pet pictures can sometimes be trite, but this really has something.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

 

“Sleeping or Dead?”
by missviii
Judge’s Comment: “Wonderful image. The whiteness of the fingers, the richness of the facial skin tones, the sharpness of the hair almost give the picture a solarization effect. It’s simple, complicated, and unusual all at the same time.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

 

“Hope”
by Raghuranjan-Sarkar
Judge’s Comment: “Strong, powerful. Who is the child? A grandchild, it seems. Strong lighting. Good print interpretation. Memorable. Without the child, the picture is strong. With the child, it’s even stronger.”
Gallery Photo Detail Page

Explanatory note: When Albert mentions “print” above he is commenting on the way the photographs are presented. Many of these files have been worked digitally, which Albert views as part of the print-making process. The creative decisions that are commonly made now in a digital format are synonymous with the print-making decisions from the dark room: exposure, burning/dodging, cropping, color, tone, contrast, the list goes on… Albert views the final image that is presented as “the print.”

 



 
PhoozL thanks all the photographers who participated. We hope you were challenged, had your creativity sparked, and learned more about photography along the way. And our big thanks to our head judge: Albert Watson. Feel free to comment on this contest (or others, or on any photo) wherever you see the Comment boxes at the bottom of pages.

— Harald Johnson
(aka AdminHarald)

P.S. Follow all the contest rankings on the Winners Showcase & PhoozL Points pages.

 

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