‘Beckon Us from Home' by Sarah Blesener. International Photographer of the Year. “With activities like water gun games, racing, and tug-a-war, this could easily be mistaken for a YMCA summer camp in Salt Lake City. However, 900 students across Utah are attending a weeklong “Patriot Camp,” focusing on patriotic education and the constitution.”
The winners of the 2017 International Photographer of the Year competition have been announced, with American photographer Sarah Blesener taking home the top prize. Her photo series Beckon Us from Home beat out over 4,000 submissions, leaving her with the title of International Photographer of the Year.
In the amateur field, Dutch photographer Jans Janssen won International Discovery of the Year with his series of images documenting the dire situation of the Batwa Pygmies in Uganda, who were displaced from their traditional land by the government 20 years ago and are still feeling the effects of this change.
Both the amateur and professional fields demonstrate a wide variety of styles and subjects. With categories ranging from photojournalism to fashion and beauty, as well as nature and fine art photography, it's one of the most wide-reaching photography competitions in terms of theme. Entrants poured in from around the globe, each bringing their unique vision and experience to the competition.
While professionals like Michal Balan, who was recently named a Hasselblad Master, took home prizes, so too did amateur photographers with unexpected backgrounds. Dutch 747 cargo pilot and amateur photographer Christiaan van Heijst brought home the title of International Open Discovery of the Year for a photograph only he could capture—one from the flight deck of a Boeing 747.
The 2017 International Photographer of the Year contest received over 4,000 submissions. Here are some of the winning images.
‘Proud for one second' by Jan Janssen. International Discovery of the Year. “The mountain gorillas in the Virunga mountains are threatened with extinction. In the past, they shared their habitat with the Batwa Pygmies. In the early 1990's the Batwa were evicted from the parks of Bwindi and the Mgahinga National Parks, in the effort to protect the mountain gorillas and their habitat. The Batwa were evicted with no compensation and it has been over 20 years now. They are impoverished and the government is still not helping.”
‘A visit to the stratosphere' by Christiaan van Heijst. International Open Category Discovery of the Year. “Long exposure shots taken from the Boeing 747 flightdeck. A view into the realm of birds and storms where man was never supposed to be if we had not invented airplanes.”
‘Monochromatic Hairscapes' by Michal Balan. First place, People:Fashion/Beauty (Professional). “Series of beauty photos. Collaboration work with award-winning hairstylist Bozena Sarek.”
‘Wave Crashers' by Emily Kaszton. First Place, Nature: Aerial (Professional). “I took these with my Phantom 4 Pro drone and edited them in Lightroom/Photoshop. I'm a water baby and I'm the happiest version of myself near a body of water. I have combined my passion for photography and the beauty of the powerful ocean in these images. They were all taken in Southern California in the last 2-3 months.”
‘Neon Desert' by Stefano Gardel. International Fine Art Photographer of the Year. “Re-interpretation of the Nevada desert with industrial and urban neon tonalities.”
‘Singularity' by Florian W. Mueller. International Architecture Photographer of the Year. “Just the building. Reduced to the max. An ongoing series with buildings from all over the world.”
‘Courtship' by Philip Thurston. International Nature Photographer of the Year. “A beautiful and intimate moment between two Australian Fur Seals off Montague Island, South Coast, NSW.”
‘Chamaleon Project' by Ana Santos. Second place, Fine Art: Conceptual (Professional). “Chamaleonidäe (Chamaleon Project) is a reflection on the habitat, the adaptation, the duality, the escape, the finite infinity, the universe woman, the hidden souls. A refuge of conceptual plurality in pursuit of making a mess of what is set, steers us towards new perspectives from what is hidden. An identity full of metaphors and polarities. A place to calm us down, to show us, to hide us, to blend into any living space. An attempt at listening to our inner souls to know where, when and why. What we show, and what we are expected to show: passion, sexuality, maternity; the belonging and excessive places of being. My goal is establishing a dialogue between the geometrical sobriety, articulated through balanced areas of color, rhythm, and composition of its execution, resulting from the exploration of the visual experience of light, space, color, and shape.”
‘Battersea' by Giulio Zanni. Second place, Open Category: Long Exposure (Amateur). “Battersea power-station, London, UK.”
‘Anarchic' by Philip Thurston. Second place, Nature: Seascapes (Professional). “Gravity-defying display of ocean power along the southwestern Australian Coastline.”
‘The Hosts' by Isabela Pacini. International People Photographer of the Year. “2018 Russia will welcome the whole world as a guest because of the football World Cup. The idea is to portray Russian people as the hosts. The Fotoprojekt is also here to introduce people at different World Cup venues, from different backgrounds and professions who welcome the whole world at home during the football World Cup – from Moscow to Sochi. All together, they convey a picture of Russia and give an insight into the Russian soul.”
‘New Jersey Turnpike' by Stuart Chape. Second place, Editorial: Environment (Professional).
‘Untitled' by Pedro Diaz Molins. Second place, Fine Art: Photomanipulation (Amateur).
‘Heart of Steel' by Ahmed Thabet. First place, Architecture: Bridges (Professional). “An abstract approach to the beautiful Seri Wawasan bridge.”
‘Lighting Clothes' by Ramon Vaquero. Third place, People:Fashion/Beauty (Professional). “‘Lighting Clothes' is a personal fashion/beauty image series where clothing or jewelry are replaced by laser light lines, as an attempt to create a metaphor of the conventional elements of the fashion world, as well as an image about the elegance itself.”
‘Losing Face' by Argus Paul Estabrook. First place, Open Category: Photojournalism/Story (Amateur). “In South Korean society, losing face is the worst thing that can happen to a person. The damage of having one’s identity lost to shame is so ruinous, that it can completely destroy a person’s social standing and authority. And that is exactly what happened to the 11th President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye. In late October 2016, Park's relationship with a shadowy advisor from a shaman-esque cult was revealed to extend to acts of extortion and influence peddling. South Koreans were shocked by the revelations. Demanding a government free from corruption and unknown influences, protesters began staging mass demonstrations every consecutive weekend in Seoul. “
‘Desert Essential' by Giovanni Canclini. First place, Open Category: Open Theme (Amateur). “Everything that's ‘less' in a picture allows the viewer more fantasy and freedom of interpretation because everyone understands images and words in different ways. As an example, if I think about the word ‘home,' I imagine my home in a mountain village where I grew up. Someone from New York imagines his ‘home' completely different from me. This is where I have found a disconnect of communication, especially in the medium of photography. From here, my work started more specifically down this path as I continued to travel around the world focusing more sharply on these thoughts. I don't wish to impose my thoughts or my political opinion through my photography; I want people to be able to travel with their own thoughts and their own view through my pictures. This approach, this sensibility, is what lead me towards “Desert Essential Series” where the object is to represent the real essence of things and the desert helps to reach this goal. With the series “Desert Essential” I leave the viewer to travel with his own thoughts where he wants.”