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American Photography Open 2020: May Highlights From Our Judges

By David Schonauer   Monday June 22, 2020


The world is a beautiful place.

Month three of the American Photography Open 2020 contest  saw entries coming from the far corners of the globe, and today we feature three entries from May that delighted the judges — an action-packed photo of a wild-horse roundup in Turkey; an image taken on the lonely road that rings Iceland; and a dazzlingly colorful photo of villagers drying cotton thread at Inle Lake in Myanmar.

Will any of these images be among the contest’s finalists? We can’t say at this point, but perhaps these images will inspire you to show us scenes you’ve captured in your travels … or right in your backyard!

The competition is open to work made by photographers at any level using any kind of equipment, from DSLRs and mirrorless cameras to smartphones. Finalists 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, a Tamron SP 70-200 F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon or Nikon mount), value $1,299; a SanDisk 1 TB Extreme Pro Portable SSD; a PhotoShelter two-year Pro account; and a two-hour business consultation with The Photo Closer. Finalists will receive a choice of a Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Canon or Nikon mount) lens or a prime lens for a Sony FF ML camera (20mm, 24mm, or 35mm); a SanDisk 128GB Extreme Pro SD card; and a PhotoShelter one-year standard account.

This year our partner SanDisk will be awarding additional prizes for the company’s “Share Your World” competition. The winner will receive a $2,500 Cash Prize in return for letting SanDisk use the image in marketing with photographer attribution for 18 months. She or he will also receive a 1TB Extreme PRO Portable SSD and 3 128GB Extreme PRO SD Cards. 2 Runners Up will receive 2 128GB Extreme PRO SD cards. (Go here to meet one of the judges.) Two of the images below were entered in the “Share Your World” competition.

Deadline for entries is August 31. If you’ve got time on your hands, why not enter now? Go here for more information.
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“Wild Horses,” by F. Dilek Uyar

F. Dilek Uyar is a lawyer based in Turkey, but, he notes, “Taking photos is a part of my life; it’s like taking a breath.” To capture something or someone in a photograph, he says, is to render the scene or person timeless. “I travel to take photos, to touch people's stories. Their lives open a new window for me,” he says.

Among other places, Uyar’s travels have taken him to the village of Hörmetçi, in Turkey’s Kayseri province, where horses are a way of life. “The horses are often used for riding purposes by men of the village. They sometimes catch “Yilki horses” — a kind of wild horse — to domesticate. Catching the horses from reed-filled land and taking them in to be domesticated is like a visual ceremony,” says Uyar, who shot the images with a Nikon D810.

"There are lots of places to take beautiful photos. But for me, a good photo is a photo that is hard to take again, with its timing, moment, light and geometry. A good photo must have a story,” say Uyar.

See more at Uyar’s Instagram page.


“Road to Nowhere,” by Dan Jenney

A professional photographer based in Bronxville, NY, Dan Jenney made this image — entered in  SanDisk’s “Share Your World” competition — while on a trip to Iceland in the summer of 2017. “We were driving along the highway that rings the island and in the southern wasteland between Hella and Vik,” he says. “We pulled off at my urging after crossing a long metal bridge. The glacier Jokulsarlon and the volcanic mountains we’re visible, as was a break in the clouds. The road curved away to infinity. I took a five-shot vertical panoramic image to fully capture the width of the desolate loneliness.”

Jenney shot with a Canon EOS 6D on a tripod, with a 24-105 lens. “One of the main challenges to taking this image was not being hit by a car!” he says. "I was standing in the middle of the only connecting highway in all of southern Iceland with my back to the main source of traffic. Thankfully the bridge ‘rang’ when a car was on it so I had warning on oncoming traffic.”

Photography became part of Jenney’s life after college. “I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, and getting an office job was what I was ‘supposed’ to do. I lasted 10 months and hated every second of cubicle life,” he says. “I worked several temp jobs to make ends meet and while working in a real estate office I met a photographer who had the need for an apprentice for low-end foreclosure work, and that’s how I started.”

See more of Jenney’s work at his website.


“Life in Color,” by Zay Yar Lin

Another entry in SanDisk’s “Share Your World” competition, this photo was made by Zay Yar Lin, the grand-prize winner of the AP Open 2018 photography contest. As you may recall, Lin is a professional ship’s captain who indulges his passion for travel photography during his far-flung journeys.

“The photo was taken when I visited Myanmar’s Inle Lake area in December 2019,” says Lin. “There are villages around the lake where dyeing and drying cotton threads in sunlight in the traditional way of life. I saw one of the stilt houses in Inle Lake where people were drying the colorful cotton threads, and I wanted to photograph it. The cotton threads are colorful, and the reflection on the still water is nearly perfect, like a mirror. I talked to the house owner and I took quite a few shots until I was satisfied.”

Lin shot with a Nikon 850 and wide-angle lens. “I had to lay on my belly on a bamboo floor that was just above the water at the back of the stilt house,” he says. “I put my camera very close to the water level to get a perfect reflection of colorful threads and a lady who was working.”

See more of Lin's work at his website.

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