One of my photos won an APA Award this year! This is a big deal, and I'm honored. The image came from my coverage of the 2017 Tour d'Azerbaijan pro cycling race in May. I was brought on by Team Illuminate to provide daily updates as well as an image library for long-term use by the team and to promote the team's sponsors. It was a dream job.
These kids were scrounging for water bottles and other souvenirs at the end of Stage 2. I sat in the team car while the team's director bought sandwiches for the riders. I was exhausted, having spent the last five hours leaping in and out of the car, lugging two massive DSLRs around, helping sort rain gear for the riders, food and water, and, since I was riding shotgun, keeping track of which teams were in the lead, which were threats, how the Illuminate riders were doing, etc etc, while the team director pushed our loaner Skoda to its limits to keep up with the peloton (and ha ha ha, meanwhile a couple hundred pro cyclists turned their legs inside out to race their bicycles at full throttle, but how can you ever really know anyone's discomfort but your own?!). Anyway, these young fans were non-stop heckling me for something, anything, and I had nothing to give them but they would not relent. I rolled up the driver side window and they pushed it back down. I ignored them and they only screamed louder. I aimed my camera at them with full-power flash and dialed it in to 9 fps in hopes that the blinding light would spook them, and it did not, but this resulting image makes me smile every time I see it.
The APA produces a sweet book with all of the winners:
Honestly, the best part about being awarded is having my work printed alongside some truly stunning images by world renowned photographers. I wanted to learn a little more about some of these images, and reached out to the photographers behind a few of my favorite shots in this years' winners circle:
I love this portrait. The cool snowy background, the deep red leather vintage car seats, Andrea's sprawling lounging comfort, the way the light makes his left hand look skeletal and keeps his face kind but still remote, the clothes... it's an image that presents more questions than it answers. I asked Elisha about it and she filled in some more details:
"The lighting and colors in the image really add to the mood... it is a perfect representation of Andrea himself, an Italian man who is enamored by American Culture."
"When I photograph people I try to capture their subtle nuances in the most honest way possible... Andrea is an insanely talented photographer and cinematographer born and raised in Italy. He moved to Chicago a few years ago, fell in love with America, which led him to purchase a beautiful 1960's Buick Electra to drive around the country." Elisha initially photographed him in the driver's seat, but "this didn't feel strong enough and felt a little cliche. I knew I wanted to get more of the car in the shot so I moved him to the back seat and played around with various angles, compositions, and focal lengths there. We landed on a wide, cinematic shot and were done."
See more of her work on her website.
This image caught me right in the heart, with it's dreamy tones, the lush flowers, and most of all, that expression.
This image is part of Elisabeth's series called "Double Identity," which flips the traditional male/female relationship roles as they were portrayed in Noir films from the 1930s and 40s. It's a stunning series, and has been recognized around the world in multiple art shows, exhibitions, and awards. I asked Elisabeth about the project and she had this to say:
"The basic idea is that there were other relationships besides heterosexual ones in the past... but we would never know it based on the films of the era..." In this frame "the subject is a character who is the 'housewife' who can't believe her life is what it is...while she is doing an everyday activity she normally does - cutting her roses to put in a vase on the dining room table - and starts to space out thinking of how unhappy she is, how confused, terrified, lost she is because she suddenly has been awakened to the feeling that she will never be able to be 'herself...'"
Elisabeth started her career shooting production stills on tv and film sets, which directly inspired the look and feel of this project. Elisabeth's website is here.
I do a lot of corporate portraiture. It spans the gammut from super-drab company-guidelined gray backdrops to truly fun and creative editorial-style portraiture. Mark's winning entry in the Corporate category caught my eye because it is a headshot with a twist. There's a dreamy, gauzy, quality to it that sets it apart from any other "corporate headshot" I've seen.
I asked Mark about it and he promised to answer my questions. I am still waiting!! So, as soon as the holidays wear off, and I get a response, I'll post a Q & A with him that should be worthwhile.
It is crazy to single out just three among all the great frames in this year's APA Awards. And every time I page through them new images jump out. Take a look through the gallery and try to pick your own favorites and you'll see what I mean!