American Photography Open 2019: The Judging Begins

By David Schonauer   Thursday April 18, 2019

The American Photography Open 2019 competition has begun!

Entries have been coming in from around the world, and today we are sharing three that delighted our judges — a photo of a beluga whale in a Taiwan aquarium, an autumn scene in rural New York, and a depiction of love at age 101.

Will they end up being among the finalists in this year’s contest? We can’t say yet — the competition’s final deadline is August 31, and we will have looked at lots of images by then. But as you’ll see, the three photographers featured today have put their talents on full display.

Now it’s your turn to enter. The competition is open to photographers at all levels, shooting with any kind of device — from DSLRs and mirrorless cameras to smartphones. Winners will have their work spotlighted in a variety of online venues and at a photo industry event in New York City. They will also pick up some very nice prizes from our partners.

The Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000, plus a Tamron SP 70-200 F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon or Nikon mount), value $1,299; a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD; a Skylum suite of software (including Luminar, Aurora HDR and Photolemur); a Fujifilm X-T3 camera; and a PhotoShelter 2-year Pro account.

Our advice: Avoid the late rush and get your submissions in early.

“You and Me” by Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro

Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro is a professional photographer based in Macau, but he travels widely while shooting documentary and travel photography. He was in the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium located in Checheng Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan, when he noticed a group of children near a tank for beluga whales.

Using his Fujifilm X100T, he began taking pictures.

“I was sitting on the floor and I took a couple of shots of the children — all shadows, contours and backlight,” he recalls. “Then, after a few minutes, most of the children sat down on the floor too — all but one, who stayed leaning against the aquarium. I took three photos, and to me this one was the best.”

“I love nature photography,” he adds, “and I enjoy shooting animals both in captivity and in the wild.”

“Brant Lake” by Phil Smith

Looking for a good idea for a contest-winning photo?

Look for ideas that have broad appeal and that are visually powerful. This lovely autumn scene by Phil Smith captures several universal themes in one shot—the beauty of an autumn morning, the simplicity and softness of morning fog on the landscape and kids enjoying life. Smith, who describes his involvement with photography as a “passionate hobby,” made the shot near his home in rural Brant Lake, New York. “Brant Lake, as well as many of the lakes up here, often has foggy mornings, which makes shooting scenes like this possible,” he says.

Smith shot only one frame of the kids and then moved on to other subjects. “I think it was a school day and I just spotted some them playing hooky,” he explains. He shot with a Canon EOS Rebel camera.
--Jeff Wignall

“101, Age of Love” by Arianne Clément

Montreal-based professional photographer Arianne Clément began her career covering the Canadian Arctic for a French newspaper. Now she specializes in shooting documentary work about the elderly. She has been photographing one couple — Paul, age 101, and his wife Christine, age 87 — for more than two years.

“This picture was taken in 2018 in Sainte-Christine, which is a small town in Québec, Canada. The photo was taken in the couple's own bedroom in the house where they still live, for a  project on sensuality and beauty in women over 70,” she says. She shot with a Nikon D610 and a 35mm lens.

“I was standing awkwardly on their bed and in order to get their entire bodies in the frame I had to hold the camera as high as I could. So I couldn’t see if the frame and the focus were right. And they were not! But the photo, even if not technically perfect, sends a strong message of hope and love which in the end is what really matters,” recalls Clément.


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