“Forms of murmurations” by Daniel Dencescu. Winner, 2022 Minimalist Photographer of the Year. Winner, Abstract Category.
The ability to distill a scene down to its essential parts is a rare skill. But as the fourth annual Minimalist Photography Awards demonstrate, there are plenty of photographers who shine in this area. Whether capturing a flock of birds or a dancer in action, the 2022 competition winners strip everyday events down to their core. And in doing so, they reveal incredible beauty that is often hidden.
The contest's grand prize winner, Daniel Dencescu, perfectly captures the spirit of minimalism with his photos of starling murmurations. Dencescu spent more than 200 hours in the field to take these magical photos, and selected a color palette inspired by Surrealist painter René Magritte.
“There’s certainly something mesmerizing in how these birds move—a vast, impromptu choreography, each bird part of something vastly bigger than themselves,” the German photographer writes. “The colossal organic shapes that form have an inherent beauty, but here we see many unexpected coincidences. Photographed against a flat, cloudless sky, the resulting images are undiluted—sparse and beautiful, leaving a place for a lot of interpretations.”
Along with Dencescu, who also won the abstract category, 11 other photographers were celebrated for their minimalist photography. More than 3,400 photographs from artists in 43 countries were submitted for consideration. The awards, which are organized by B&W Minimalist Magazine, are judged by an expert panel of industry insiders. See all the category winners below and check out all the finalists on the contest's website.
The winners of the 2022 Minimalist Photography Awards show the power of simplicity.
“Simple Elegance” by Tara Workman. Winner, Landscape Category. “Like most of us, sand dunes have been shaped by their environment, but we all have different sides and moods we show. With this collection, I have chosen to highlight the dunes’ graceful curves and their softer sultry side. Each image in its abstractness has its own unique story to tell, and through their subtle lines and curves, they exude both simplicity and elegance alike.”
“Dancers in Black & White” by Fredrik Gille. Winner, Portrait Category. “Dancers in this series: William Dugan, So-Yeon Kim, Madeline Woo.”
“A river in Southern Iceland” by Daniel Franc. Winner, Aerial Category. “This very, very long black sand beach (you need to walk a trail for a couple of kilometers from the nearest road to get there) is especially fascinating on gloomy days like this. Add the river and cover it with a bit of grass and moss in the late Autumn colors (which is September in Iceland), and you get a truly ethereal scenery like out of this world.”
“Huts…” by Martin Annand. Winner, Long Exposure Category. “An impromptu photoshoot at the huts.”
More than 3,400 photographs from artists in 43 countries entered the 2022 photo contest.
“Death Valley Night” by Brian Kosoff. Winner, Night Series Category. “Keeping myself busy on clear nights.”
“After a long day” by Tamás Wachsler. Winner, Street Category. “Visitors of the Hungarian Parliament, after a strenuous walk, have some rest on the roof of the visitors center.”
“Small additions” by Guido Klumpe. Winner, Conceptual Category. “A Series of juxtapositions in our urban environment. Here, I was all about the little details that turn a mundane scene into something completely new. My work combines three genres that influence each other: street photography, minimal photography, and abstract photography. I like to explore and push the boundary of genres. I see my city as an urban landscape. A landscape made up of shapes, colors, reflections, and light. My style of street photography is characterized by a clear visual language, everything superfluous is left out. The overarching theme is the tension between urban architecture and its inhabitants.”
“Last Night I Dreamt I Knew How to Swim” by Natalie Christensen. Winner, Fine Art Category. “The first pool I remember was the one I fell into as a small child. It was at an apartment complex that my young parents lived in. I recall falling in, opening my eyes, and seeing the color of the water and the reflection of sunlight shimmering in my field of vision. My mother pulled me out. I was around four years old. Eventually, I became a good enough swimmer and spent the summers of my childhood and adolescence in any pool I could find. My parents were divorced by the time I was eight years old, and I spent every other weekend with my dad. Back then, he lived in apartment complexes, some of which had pools. My father would let my brother and me play for hours. And during the winter, he would take us to hotels that had indoor pools. These stays helped us avoid the sense of loss. My father’s business endeavors were prone to sudden changes. When times were good, he lived in luxurious homes; the best ones had pools. But when the tides would turn, the moves came abruptly. There were 11 homes in 10 years. And sometimes the pools went dry. I came to learn that the presence of a pool was a distraction from how impermanent things actually were. Underneath, there loomed an impending sense that everything could be lost. Stable could quickly become unstable, and suddenly we were in over our heads. Yet the pool was always seductive. There was a comfort in the stillness of its waters, albeit a calm that couldn’t be trusted. Now, I look at pools as windows into my past and insights into my present. Beyond their surfaces, the depths of my discoveries are seemingly infinite.”
Daniel Dencescu took home the grand prize for his photos of starling murmurations.
“Forms of murmurations” by Daniel Dencescu. Winner, 2022 Minimalist Photographer of the Year. Winner, Abstract Category. “I want to describe the murmurations of starlings as an elegant dance. There’s certainly something mesmerizing in how these birds move–a vast, impromptu choreography, each bird part of something vastly bigger than themselves. The colossal organic shapes that form have an inherent beauty, but here we see many unexpected coincidences. Photographed all my murmurations series against a flat, cloudless sky the resulting images are undiluted. Sparse and beautiful, leaving a place for a lot of interpretations. The dawn cream color palette for my calligraphic photographs is based on the works of surrealist painter René Magritte and the master Irving Penn. I have spent more than 200 hours on the field chasing and photographing the starlings. All of the scenes are real.”
12 category winners were also selected by an expert jury.
“Cluster One” by Daniel Fisher. Winner, Architecture Category. “This is an underpass to a road bridge made from precast concrete sections. I walk under it to work, and the scale of it and how brutal it feels against the river and nature reserve surrounding it always surprises me. It looks especially sci-fi in the fog (from various angles) as it disappears into the distance.”
“Memories” by Benjamin Briones Grandi. Winner, Photomanipulation Category. “This series is a representation of our inner landscapes using composite photography. The work is inspired by two sources: One is “The Mansions,” written by St. Teresa of Ávila. The second inspiration comes from the mechanisms used by the human brain to integrate memories, dream, and overcome traumas. The images are a result of playing with perspective, time, scale, and colors. It is a construct made out of pieces from real places put together using imagination and dreams. A rather healing combination.”
“In Time” by Allen Koppe. Winner, Conceptual Category. “I have always been drawn to minimal, uncomplicated imagery. I like the simplicity and balanced harmony of minimalist photography, where elements are arranged in a manner that removes the noise and clutter of our everyday world and allows the unique subjects, shapes, and forms to be revealed in quiet isolation. With this series of works, I have sought to create a pictorial fable, a myth where the imagery sits between reality and the imagined. The use of collage and the re-assembling and layering of photographic elements helps to shape the narrative. These images are a contemplation of isolation, a depiction of a surreal, future world where majestic animals are seemingly lost amongst the remnants of the human juggernaut. The power of the works can be found in their representation of the sanctity of nature, the beauty of the natural world, and its vulnerability to the environmental impact that humans have on the planet.”