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American Photography Open 2018: Off to an Exciting Start!

By David Schonauer   Friday April 13, 2018

The inaugural edition of the American Photography Open  is off to a great start. In just the first few weeks we’ve received hundreds of submissions from photographers all over the globe. Now it’s your turn!

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a relative newcomer to photography, choosing which photos to enter in a contest is still fraught with a bit of artistic angst. Should you go with a beautifully executed classic landscape composition? Try to catch a judge’s eye with something a bit more experimental or even daring? Push them back in their chairs with a daring wildlife close-up? Or perhaps tug (or yank) a bit at their heartstrings with an emotionally charged portrait?

In the end, perhaps the best advice for entering any photo contest is to go with your gut. Which of your photos satisfied your creative juices the most or drew a primal emotional reaction from you? If the pictures excite you then they will almost certainly cause our judges to take a second (or perhaps a third) look.

That advice is exactly what the three contestants below followed in choosing their images: they went with the images that they felt succeeded best in capturing their creative intent. While we can’t say whether these photos will end up in the winner’s circle or not, these three images were among those singled out by our judges as being worth a closer look and more careful and critical consideration. We asked each of these three photographers about their entries and why they chose these photos over all of the other images in their photo collections.

Susan Cannarella


Susan Cannarella captured this intimate and intense moment in a barber shop in Havana, Cuba while she was visiting as part of being a Santa Fe Workshop participant. “A few of us entered this alley barbershop and stayed for a bit photographing the scene,” she says. “I was inspired by the chaotic feel of the space and the universal activity of these young men getting their hair cut.”

Cannarella says she shot several photos of the scene, but it wasn’t until she returned home that she realized that she had indeed captured the moment she was after. “I had hoped I had gotten the shot but, was not sure. I really love the connection I achieved with the subject.” See more at  @suzpichas.

Jordan Kaplan


Jordan Kaplan’s cleverly framed shot of a fisherman was also taken while traveling. “The photo was shot on Inle Lake in Myanmar,” says Kaplan.  “I took a river boat out to travel around the lake and I had been told about these fishermen. Seeing them in person was truly a unique experience and I wanted to ‘Kapture’ how they paddled with one leg, while incorporating the net into the shot.” Kaplan says that straight shots that he made of the fisherman standing were interesting (you can see alternate shots on his Instagram account (@kaptureproductions), but he decided to up his compositional game a bit by switching to a 10-20mm wide-angle zoom and using the fisherman’s net as a frame-within-a-frame. We think the idea really works!

The photo, says the photographer, is one of his favorite all-time shots largely because of the off-beat composition. Did he know he had the shot right away? “Yes, I sprinted back to the hostel as soon as we got off the boat to start posting pictures—starting with this image.”

Photographer: Theresa Horbes


Not all great photo opps happen in far away places and sometimes fun travel shots are as near as a neighboring town, as photographer Theresa Horbes’ eye-catching image proves. “The parks and recreation in a nearby town hosts Mud Day,a chance for kids to get out and have a blast while wallowing in a giant mud pit,” says Horbes. “I was originally going to title this shot Baptized In Mud, because the girls with their bare feet, long muddy dreaded hair and long gowns looked as if they were participating in some sort of religious festival.”

Horbes says she was particularly pleased with the contrast between the mud on the girls clothing and hair, the water being sprayed in the background, as well as the subtle reflection in the muddy water. “The long robed girls in the foreground really gave the shot a center of interest and the kids playing in their bathing suits gave an interesting ambiguous dynamic to the picture,” she says. “I composed as quick as I could and then the girl gave me a lucky glance. I took a few snaps and the moment passed  as the three made their way back into the sea of muddy kids.”

The American Photography Open is not just open to all levels of photographers, it’s also open to all levels of camera gear. So whether you shot your images with a high-end DSLR or mirrorless camera or snapped it with your smartphone, your photos are welcome. After all, the real camera is the one between your ears, no? What we’re looking for are your most inventive, creative and inspired images, regardless of how you captured them.

By the way, just how many photos you choose to enter is up to you, but keep in mind that, while the final deadline is August 24,2018, the first entry is absolutely free through July 1, 2018.

We hope that the grand prize of $5,000 and various prizes from our partners, plus our finalists and community winners prizes, will make you want to show several examples of your best work.

GO HERE  for more on prizes.


We’re looking forward to seeing your work in the American Photography Open 2018  competition link and we wish you good luck and good shooting.

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