10 Most Interesting Photos of the SP@Flickr Pool (2012)
Every year, we like to look back at our Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group: To see how far we've come, to see how much we've grown and to celebrate our members and the exceptional contributions. The group is motivation. It's motivation for each other, and it's motivation for those of us at Shutter Photo. Personally, I love to see new photos contributed each and every day. It's part of what keeps us motivated as well. 2012 was a year of slow growth by the numbers. We only gained 76 new members to the group. But everyone has raised the bar in terms of quality. Everyone's work has gotten notably better. And the group as a whole has gotten collectively better. Nearly 4,000 photos were contributed to the group in 2012. That's an incredible amount of inspiration. But that doesn't make my job easy at the end of the year when I need to narrow it down to 10 photos. It was a struggle. But I spent the last week poring over the group's contributions, and I somehow managed to narrow it down to these ten photos. Trust me, it was close. Very close. I wish I could list every single photo that I had considered, but that would be a distraction. In truth, you should all be proud of yourselves for what you've accomplished this year. You've all done well.
I present to you the 10 most interesting photos of the Shutter Photo @ Flickr Pool for 2012 (listed in no particular order):
“Forsaken” by Noah Feldklipp
There were many of Noah Feldklipp's photos that were up for consideration. His style is incredible. His choice of subject matter and his use of the light results in haunting images much like this one. In the end, it was Forsaken that deserved to be here. It's a very simple composition. Everything is centered upon its vanishing point, which lies somewhere off beyond that window. The window and its drapes nicely frame the chair that rests facing the light. Even the light cast onto the walls frames the shot. And we cannot overlook Noah's incredible post-processing that really punches up the drama. But in the end, it's that eye-catching red in the drapes that really pulls our eye.
“Ponytails and Asphalt Artists” by Aaron Waterman
Photos that tell a story are among the most powerful photos. One gets extra points for connecting with the audience. This photo earns points for both. We first introduced you to this photo, Ponytails and Asphalt Artists, last April, 2012. The photograph was created by Aaron Waterman. The story is that of two little girls drawing on asphalt. You don't have to have kids to connect with this image, you just have to have an appreciation for children. This is a quiet and sentimental moment – a special moment – and Aaron has allowed us to share in that moment. It's the light over the shoulders, it's the view from behind these two little girls and of course their entire canvas laid out in front of them that makes this photo so great in the end. But those are just finishing touches. It all started with a simple story.
Untitled by Bethany Helzer
Portraits with dramatic lighting can be quite powerful. When that dramatic lighting happens to be through broken windows into a poorly lit and abandoned natatorium, you've happened upon an intriguing setting. Bethany Helzer, the creator of this fine portrait, knows the power of a setting all too well. Her portraits and self portraits often feature unusual settings with attire that seems to contrast with the surrounding environment. In this portrait, it is quite interesting to see our subject seem so at peace in an otherwise creepy place. Perhaps that is why we are so attracted to the portrait. It's what keeps us staring into the photo, studying it to see more. But there isn't anything else. In this case, it's a story untold. One that whets our appetite for more.
“Roller Coaster” by Ray Rhodes
Ray Rhodes is one of the longest standing members of the Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group. He inspires us all, and so we love to have him and his contributions around. Roller Coaster, is quite indicative of his style: It's a simple composition and a simple view into a world we only thought we knew. His timing is impeccable, catching the mist at just the right moment that you can actually see where it stops. You have to wake pretty early in the morning to catch that. While the fog may be what initially catches your eye, it's the meandering roadway and the streetlights that pull us in. But there is no end to that road, at least not that we can see. Perhaps the journey continues beyond.
“Heavy” by Kevin Corrado
Great and interesting photographs aren't always found. Sometimes they need to be created. Heavy, a photo created by the inspiring mind of Kevin Corrado, was featured here at Shutter Photo last April. The photo is a strong reminder that photos often need to be planned. The message behind Heavy is left up to the imagination; there could be a number of interpretations. But does that matter, really? What really matters is that Kevin has you thinking. He has you looking around for clues or other elements out of place. He has created all of this to plant an idea in your mind. That is art, his creation. The camera – photography – is only a medium.
“Distance” by Ryan Kasak
The interesting thing about monuments and well known subjects is that you can't imagine that anyone would ever come up with a new way to capture them in a photograph. Yet every day, photographers like Ryan Kasak, create fresh and uncommon compositions like this one: Distance. We're all familiar with the Eiffel Tower. It's a structure that is recognizable, even to the unwashed. It's so iconic that we've seen it all. I love Ryan's low-angle view of the tower. It makes everything seem surreal. Angles like this aren't common, and so they catch our attention. So when you're faced with a common subject and your shot seems boring as a result, perhaps all you need is a new angle.
Untitled by Dante Fratto
HDR, when used responsibly, can really open up the world of photography to that which can only be seen with the naked eye. Sunset behind a building, for example, is one view that can't be captured well in a photograph, at least not without the use of HDR. This photo of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station (and the US Post Office Building and the modern Cira Center), a photograph created by Dante Fratto, uses HDR to illustrate a beautiful set of buildings is such a with all the available detail. Without HDR, the entire face of these buildings would be in full shadow. The human eye is much more skilled at seeing across such contrasts, but not the camera (at least not when used traditionally). Dante's photograph, therefore, presents what would otherwise be considered an impossible photograph. But he doesn't overdo it with the HDR either: It looks a little surreal, but not in that cartoonish sort of way. It's photos like these that have changed my mind about HDR (and other processing trends). Maybe I just needed to open my mind a bit more. More likely: Perhaps I simply just needed to see it's potential fully realized by a skilled hand, like Dante Fratto's.
“Arabian Identity to Burj Khalifa” by Thamer Al-Hassan
If there was one photograph I knew I wanted to include in this year's Interesting Photos, it was this one: Arabian Identity to Burj Khalifa, by Thamer Al-Hassan. We featured this photograph back in February of 2012, and I thought it deserved some more recognition. The building in the shot is the great Burj Khalifa, which currently holds the title of the Tallest Building in the World. Despite it's size, it is an impressive feat of engineering and architecture, and it truly is a piece of art jutting out of the earth. What amazes me most about the photograph, however, is that Thamer has managed to actually frame the shot using a doorway. I never would have thought it possible. But it isn't featured here because of it's simple composition or the frame-within-a-frame technique. It's the statement that has been made with this photograph. Though stylized through modern interpretation, the doorway – the frame – is reminiscent of the cultural history and architecture of the region. The Burj Khalifa is clearly modern. This is an interesting contrast that Thamer has explored and his photograph does seem to implicate a nice merge of the old and the new. That strikes a powerful statement, indeed.
“Weary” by Peter Von Seth
It doesn't take much to strike emotion when it comes to an emotive portrait. In this portrait, Weary, by Peter Von Seth, it's the body language that is telling the story (even if you didn't know the photo's title). The figure has cast his backpack aside and is relaxing in the sunlight with an expressionless face. We can't see his eyes, but we can assume they're closed, or at least staring off into nothingness. There's only one story that can be garnered from such body language: Weary. I can only imagine that the title was easy to come by once Peter viewed his work in post (possibly even before). Despite the similarities in the color palette, the person stands out well among the tall grass because of the contrast in textures (oh what great texture that grass yields). I don't know if this shot was planned, or if Peter was taking advantage of a moment. But the story broadcasts itself.
“Slow Down” by Christoph Hetzmannseder
Alright, so the order of these photographs weren't entirely random. I wanted to end with Christoph Hetzmannseder's image, Slow Down, because I think it does have strong message: The world is moving around you, you should slow down to take it all in. This is not only advice to your photography, but to your life in general. Just don't do it in the way this woman is: Staring down at her phone (she's missed so much). But I speak tangentially ..let's talk about the photograph. This is an interesting compilation of a number of interesting techniques. Christoph is using a wide-angle lens to get the entire street width into the shot, and he left the barrel distortion untouched in post. The buildings seem to bend towards this woman who seems to be at the center of the universe as much as she's at the center of this photograph. He's also using a slow shutter speed so that the moving people around her blur into time, that elusive constant of our daily lives. Now I poked at this woman earlier by saying she shouldn't be staring at her phone. But that really wasn't fair. There is a story here, and it is that something made her stop dead in her tracks. Maybe it's a pone call from a long lost love, or maybe it's a text message about someone's passing, one we hope to never see. To her, the world has stopped. But it continues on around her, unnoticed by her. There is a strong storyline in this photograph, which is what makes it so interesting.
I jest about spending all this time in the Flickr Pool trying to pull out the 10 most interesting photos contributed this year. In truth, I live for it. I love going back into the pool and reliving some emotions that I had the first time I saw each of these photos. To be honest, I love getting a second (or third or fourth) look into the pool, because there is always something I missed. There are quite a few hidden gems in there. So if you haven't already, you might want to explore the nearly 9,000 photos (as of this writing) that currently reside in our groups pool. I promise you that any amount of time spent with in that group's offerings will have been well spent. Though I am glad to host the pool for any and all to see, we all would all be much more appreciative if you were to join us and contribute as well. We will all grow together and be inspired together.
Happy New Year.