Exceptional Winners of 1839 Awards’ Photo Contest Celebrating the Power of Color Photography

Kids jumping rope in front of a building

“Unsupervised” by Alexandrena Parker. Overall Professional Winner and Professional Winner, Conceptual, People, Storytelling.
“The sight of children engaged in unsupervised play, left to their own devices in the streets, has become increasingly rare. Set in outback Australia, the scenes weave together the past and present, symbolizing the relationship between the landscape and the timeless essence of childhood.”

Named for the year that photography was first made widely available to the public, the 1839 Awards holds a series of photo contests to highlight the medium. Photographers from 55 different countries entered the Color Photography Contest, which is open to both professional and non-professional photographers. The results, which were just announced, are extraordinary.

In the end, two different conceptual series won the overall prize. For the professionals, Alexandrena Parker was named the overall winner for her images of unsupervised children playing outside, a rare sight these days. Astrid Reischwitz‘s fascinating look at her heritage, which combines photography and embroidery, won her the top prize in the non-professional competition.

There are many hidden gems among the category winners. From a playful plate of pasta to a striking look at the war in Ukraine, the competition highlights the impact that color photography can have on our view of the world.

The winner's announcement, however, was not without controversy. In an effort to keep up with technology and its impact on the medium, the contest has a category to award the best AI imagery. What the contest organizers didn't expect, however, was for a photographer to not only enter a regular photo into that category but to win the People's Vote Award. Though the photographer was subsequently disqualified when he revealed that the image was not AI, the news brought a lot of eyes to the contest.

This event, together with the high quality of the winners, should assure any photographer that technology, while wonderful, is still no match for the creativity and artistry that comes with a human touch.

Scroll down to see some of our favorite winners and check out the full gallery on the 1839 Awards official website.

The 2024 Color Photography Contest celebrates the power of photography.

Showered by molten, firework-like sparks, people in Meizhou, China performa fire dragon dance to celebrate the Lantern Festival on the first full moon of the Lunar Calendar

“How to train your dragon” by Leo Kwok. Winner, Professional, Event, People.
“Showered by molten, firework-like sparks, people in Meizhou, China perform a fire dragon dance to celebrate the Lantern Festival on the first full moon of the Lunar Calendar. This celebration was performed over 200 years ago and was listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in China in 2008.”

View of wildfire on K’gari, the world's largest sand island

“Dark Beauty” by Robyn Finlayson. Winner, Professional, Landscapes.
“In late 2020, a wildfire broke out on World Heritage-listed K’gari, the world’s largest sand island. It swept through more than 87,000 hectares, or almost half the island. It burned for more than 2 months. During this time I discovered an unexpected and alluring beauty amongst the devastation.”

Tiger standing on a bed in Buenos Aires, Argentina

“Tiger” by Sofia Lopez Mañan. Professional Runner-up and Professional Winner, Animals, Conceptual, Storytelling.
“Tiger standing on a bed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This image is part of the project ” The Book of Nature” that explores the concept of ‘Nature' as a manmade construction.”

Run by the 1839 Awards, the photo contest is divided into professional and non-professional categories.

Plate of spaghetti with a braid

“Spaghetti Stylist” by Yuliy Vasilev. Winner, Professional, Still Life.

Award Winning Portrait

“Gitano” by Arianna Angelini. Winner, Professional, People.
“I met him once, trying to find my way. The solitude of the highlands was what I sought. Unbidden, he sat beside me on a log one day As I was caught up with some restless thought.”

1839 Awards - Color Photography Contest

“Nations of the Atlantic” by Kim Lang. Winner, Professional, Travel.
“Nations of the Atlantic explores the ocean as a vessel to connect cultures and focuses on the universal experience of places that rely on the sea for their everyday lives. It shifts the attention to small island nations, often overlooked in the greater discussion of climate change.”

Conceptual photo with embroidery stitching

“Spin Club Tapestry” by Astrid Reischwitz. Overall Non-Professional Winner and Winner, Non-Professional, Conceptual, Other.
“By following the stitches in fabric from my village in Germany, I follow a path through the lives of my ancestors – their layout of a perfect pattern and the mistakes they made. The patterns I have stitched myself into the paper represent fragments of memory.”

Teenagers in Bhutan playing baseball in front of a Buddha statue

“Baseball in Bhutan” by Matthew Desantis. Non-Professional Runner-up.
“With Buddha (symbol of inspiration) in the backdrop, Bhutanese teenagers engage in a spirited game of baseball in the capital of Thimphu. Clad in the nation's traditional noble attire, they embody the harmonious blend of tradition and modernity that defines Bhutan.”

Missile stuck in the middle of a deserted road in Ukraine

“The Price of Freedom” by Lenka Klicperová. Winner, Professional, Photojournalism.
“Ukraine has been defending itself against Russian aggression for two years. Thousands of soldiers and civilians are paying a terrible price for their freedom. But they are still fighting.”

Circular swimming pool at Lake Zurich

“The Circle” by Mauro Caviezel. Winner, Non-Professional, Architecture, Minimalism.
“Early morning long exposure shot of the ‘The Circle,' a public swimming pool at Lake Zürich.”

Total solar eclipse

“Total Solar Eclipse” by Edward Panjaitan. Winner, Non-Professional, Nature.
“The sequence of a total solar eclipse from the 2nd contact (diamond ring just before totality), totality, and just after totality (diamond ring just after totality).”

Cluster of koi and goldfish

“Passion” by Sandra Paul. Winner, Professional, Animals.

Photographers from 55 countries entered the contest, which also included a category for AI photography.

Award winning AI image

“Untitled” by Robyn Finlayson. Winner, Professional, AI.

Man with dog curled up in front of a house in Sri Lanka

“Lipton Hill” by Anton Mischenko. Winner, Non-Professional, Photojournalism.
“Sri Lanka”

Aerial view of basketball court

“Playfield” by Bragi Thor Josefsson. Winner, Professional, Architecture.

Man wearing a yellow dress standing in front of a house

“M” by Scarlett Coten. Winner, Professional, Storytelling.
“M brings together three series that explore from the Mediterranean basin to Trump's America and France, contemporary masculinities, and the determination to express who one really is. The challenge is of introducing into the collective imagination these singular yet shared experiences.”

Blue mushrooms growing out of moss

“Sky Blue” by Robyn Finlayson. Winner, Professional, Nature.

Boat on a lake in a foggy landscape

“Morning on the River” by Proshin Vladimir. Winner, Non-Professional, Travel.

Arctic expedition in Svalbard

“Arctic Expedition” by Kari Peltola. Winner, Non-Professional, Minimalism.
“Arctic expedition in Svalbard.”

1839 Awards: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by 1839 Awards.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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