Here’s another prestigious contest results, announced recently: the ZEISS Photography Award 2020.
“Seeing Beyond – Discoveries” was the theme of the ZEISS Photography Award 2020 – and selecting a winner from the countless outstanding entries was once again no easy task for the jury. In addition to the winner KyeongJun Yang with his series Metamorphosis, nine other photographers made it onto the shortlist this year. Through their images, viewers discover new people, places, stories, and may even learn something about themselves. In the following, we invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and learn more about the shortlisted photographers and their work.
Congratulations to the winner and the nine other photographers with shortlisted projects!
It is interesting that the winner, KyeongJun Yang, shot the series with a film camera using B&W film.
You used an analog camera and black and white film for the photo series. What was the reason for this choice?
I like shooting with film and there is more than one reason for that. Digital medium format cameras are too expensive. An analog camera was much more affordable and offered comparatively better image quality than my digital camera. I am also a rather impatient person. The slower nature of working with analog film helped me to calm down. You have to be patient, take your time, and work precisely. The quality of my photos has benefited greatly from this. Each shot costs money and I had to plan very carefully before I pressed the shutter button: Is the lighting right? What about the composition? What emotions does the scene convey? Digital photography obviously has other advantages.
Recently, we published a video from Zack Arias, titled “Why You Aren’t Winning Contests.” and inversely therefore, “Why the Winners Won.” We all want to know “What Makes A Really Good, Contest-Winning Photograph?”
Well, it turns out that, of the 5 reasons he lists, #5 is the deciding factor: Does your photograph(s) make an emotional connection with the judge(s)?
He admits, and we probably all agree with him, that often we look at the winner photographs, look up to the sky, roll our eyes, and wonder how on earth did the judges pick them as the winners. Obviously, the emotional connection is just not coming through to us. Maybe, it’s the bonus reason #6 that kicked in.
I believe choosing one photograph as a winner is quite different from choosing a series of photographs, the latter being more documentary in nature, and therefore having to tell a coherent story. But, to tell the truth, without the extensive writing submitted by each contestant (the proverbial “1000 words”), we may not be able to make much sense of the pictures.
However, having said all that, take the time to pore over each series of photographs and try to see what the photographer saw when she or he chose these particular photos to make up the series. Yes, you do have to read the text to get the context. Then, just like it takes a wine connaisseur to differentiate between wines and identify the really good ones, it takes judges with extensive experience of the places, events and experiences to say the series captured everything in the text.
Just one quick example: In Pan Wang’s series “Like a father, Like a mountain” there is one photograph of red ribbons tied to railings on a mountaintop. As a standalone photo by itself, that photo will probably not win a prize or evoke any emotion, but taken in context of the series and with an understanding behind the mythology of the red ribbons, it tells a poignant story of saying goodbye to a loved one, the running thread behind the series: You write a wish on a red ribbon with someone name’s and tie it to the railing. When that person passes away, you untie the ribbon and let the wind carry it off, saying your goodbyes. [Well, at least, that’s what one Chinese drama series (who, cooped up at home, has a lot of time on his hands to watch English-subbed drama series?) “taught” me, correctly or not ;).