31 Incredible Winners of the 2023 Black & White Photo Contest

Black and white photo of the Copenhagen aquarium

“Eye of the Sea” by Hilda Champion. Gold, Architecture category.
“Copenhagen’s marvelous aquarium looking at you.”

The reFocus Awards has announced the winners of its Black & White Photo Contest. Images from 77 different countries were entered into the competition, which celebrates today's most exceptional black-and-white images. The contest awarded winners in both professional and non-professional categories, with professional photographer Bill Pack taking home first place.

Pack's artistic images that highlight the sensual curves of an automobile beat out the competition. His imagery also won a Gold award in the Fine Art and Minimalism categories. As the founder and CEO of a creative studio specializing in automotive imagery, Pack let his expertise shine through in a series that he calls CarScapes.

Serkan Doğuş, who works as a customs officer in Turkey, won the overall prize on the non-professional side for his series of photos documenting hundreds of sheep moving out to pasture. Taken in the eastern city of Tatvan, Doğuş expertly captured the light and shadow created as the sheep kicked up dust along the way.

In an interview, Doğuş summed up why he is passionate about black and white photography and the advantages that it brings to his images: “When capturing the moment, the introduction of color into the equation shifts the intense emotions [and] somehow lightens the dramatic nature of the moment. Removing color from the scene reflects pure emotive feelings of my heart and what my eyes saw.”

Winners were also named in 19 different categories ranging from Architecture to Fashion & Beauty to Domestic Animals. Each category allows the contest to highlight the myriad ways that black and white photography can be used. In the case of Hilda Champion‘s Gold award image from the Architecture category, it allows us to focus on the sleek lines of Copenhagen's aquarium. For Antonio Flores, an image devoid of color allows him to create a moody street scene that has now earned him second place in the competition.

Take a look at all of the professional category winners, as well as the non-professional overall winners and then check out even more gorgeous black and white imagery over in the winners gallery.

Here are the winners of the 2023 reFocus Awards' Black & White Photo Contest.

Black and white photo of a flock of sheep

“Flock of Sheep” by Serkan Doğuş. Non-professional winner.
“Every day, hundreds of sheep make a dusty journey to reach pasture in Tatvan district of Bitlis. Shepherd children make this journey fun. Participating in this dusty journey and photographing them was an indescribable feeling.”

Giant bull sculpture set on fire

“The last gigant of the hell” by Antonio Flores. Professional runner-up. Silver, Street category.
“From the depths of hell emerges a gigantic and imposing horned beast.
BOOM! sounds and everything is reached by the flames and sparks that burn the body of a couple of men who stay under it to receive the shower of sparks and the fury of the bull as part of its ritual and offering blood to the fire.”

Black and white image showing the curves of a car

“CarScapes” by Bill Pack. Professional winner. Gold, Fine Art and Minimalism categories.
“The sensual lines and curves of the cars featured in ‘CarScapes' are not merely functional or utilitarian; they are transformed into objects of beauty and desire. I draw parallels between the artistry of car design and the beauty found in natural landscapes and the human body.”

Black and white photo of a leopard posing on a tree

“Queen of the North” by Sushil Chauhan. Gold, Wildlife category.
“This beautiful Leopard poses in the evening above her den site looking for potential prey & treats to her cubs.”

Black and white Mongolian eagle hunter and his son

“The Last of the Eagle Hunters” by Rachel Rudwall. Gold, Travel category.
“As senior Golden Eagle hunters age out of the hunting tradition and younger nomads head to the city for opportunity, the custom of eagle hunting risks dying out. But with the help of Mongolia's Golden Eagle Festival, this Kazakh cultural practice might just stand a chance.”

There were separate divisions for professional and non-professional photographers.

Men carrying iron in Angola

“The iron quest” by João Coelho. Non-professional runner-up.
“This series depicts the conditions in which a group of young people work in a ship graveyard in Angola. After removing pieces weighing hundreds of kilos using only their hands and the strength of their arms, they have to carry them to the beach, fighting against the waves and currents of the sea.”

Celebration in Madagascar's Soatanana village

“Soatanana” by Denys Kutsevalov. Silver and People's Choice, Event. Bronze, People.
“Mystery unveils right in front of my eyes when I enter Soatanana village. It feels like I am an unwelcomed outsider, who will ruin the solemn moment by the sound of a camera shutter. Is it even possible to capture this divine light, this overwhelming feeling of being inside this sacral celebration?”

Black and white photo of stampeeding wildebeest

“Moods” by Pietro Luraschi. Silver, Nature category.
The apparent calm of the foreground, the utter chaos of the background. Stark difference in one scene, same herd, different moods.”

reFocus Black & White Photo Contest

“PRAYER” by Ben Yew. Gold, Portrait category.

Black and white photo of China’s Huangshan range in the mist

“Essence of Huangshan” by Kent Burkhardsmeier. Gold, Landscape category.
“China’s Huangshan range has inspired generations of poets, painters, and photographers. Song Dynasty artisans (1127-1279) established the classic style for landscape painting: asymmetrical views, diagonally composed with prominent parts – foreground, middle distance, and far distance, and a field of mist.”

Black and white photo of a Chironomus plumosus mosquito

“Buzzer midge” by Pedro Luis Ajuriaguerra Saiz. Professional, 3rd Place. Gold, Wildlife category.
“Chironomus plumosus mosquito is a mosquito that does not bite, its mouthparts are very reduced and, in addition, it does not feed either. This family is widely distributed in the world. The name ‘plumosus' is referred to by the pair of feathery antennae that stand out in the male.”

Black and white photo of train commuters in India

“Commuters India” by Sascha van der Werf. Gold, Street category.
“From my series ‘The Commuters' (international edition).”

reFocus Black & White Photo Contest

“Living History – Lincoln's” by Ruben Hamelink. Gold, Film/Analog category.
“The most recognized historical figure in the US, Abraham Lincoln, lives on after more than 150 years since his assassination. The portraits were taken at the Association for Lincoln Presenters annual convention, a weekend where dozens of Lincolns meet, learn, and teach about their past self.”

Aside from the overall winners, top images were selected in 19 diverse categories.

Black and white portrait of a Mundari child

“Symbiosis in South Sudan” by Trevor Cole. Gold, Travel category. Silver, Photojournalism category.
“The Mundari cattle camps in the dry season are found along the banks of the White Nile in South Sudan. The dust and smoke intermingle to create an inimitable atmosphere. I have rarely experienced such a sense of community where everyone is integral to life in the camp.”

Black and white portrait of a Cuban woman sitting in her home

“Cary, Axiuli and Haytoo, Havana, Cuba, 2023” by James Clifford Kent. Gold, People category.
“Cary has lived at her home—formerly the site of a laundry run by Chinese Cubans—since the early 1990s. Her grown-up children have now left the island in search of a better standard of living and she lives alone with her animals—a goose (Axiuli), two dogs (Shimao & Tabey), and her cat (Haytoo).”

reFocus Black & White Photo Contest

“Pearls” by Olivia Mazzola. Silver, Fashion & Beauty category.

Black and white aerial photo ofa tributary

“A Tributary In The Abstract” by Pat Kennedy Corlin. Gold, Abstract category. Silver, Landscape category.
“A Tributary In The Abstract, where the river meets the sea …”

reFocus Black & White Photo Contest

“Remnants” by Kris Desautels. Gold, Conceptual category.
“For this series I leaned into my minimalist sensibilities by focusing on the small details of the human form and juxtaposed them against a more broad context to suggest that the subject isn't whole. I believe the details have enough impact to make the images complete.”

Aerial black and white photo of a fallen tree

“Tree of Life” by Julie Kenny. Gold, Aerial category.
“This aerial perspective of a fallen tree captures the webbed network of sheep tracks which provides a sense of cyclical change and renewal. The overall effect is one of renewal, harmony and interconnection. It's a reminder of the complexity of nature, beginnings and endings and the cycling of life.”

reFocus Black & White Photo Contest

“Untitled” by Drew Hopper. Gold, Minimalism category.

Black and white photo of barrel racing

“The Last Turn” by Laurie Thomson. Gold, Event category.
“Barrel racing is a popular sport for riders and spectators alike. Three barrels are set up in a pattern and this is the last barrel before the rider and horse race back to see who has the fast time. Quite the event and usually over in less than twenty seconds!”

Black and white photo of a person riding a bucking bronco

“Bulls, Broncs and Barrels” by David Zlotky. Gold, Domestic Animals category.
“Small town, open air rodeos in eastern Kansas are common in the summer. They're wonderful slices of Americana. Cowboys and Cowgirls compete for prize money and bragging rights exercise the same skills used everyday on working ranches across the country. I appreciate their superb horsemanship.”

Black and white photo of a polar bear laying down in Hudson Bay

“The Wait” by Csaba Tokolyi. Gold, Nature category.
“Polar bear waits for ice to form on Hudson Bay. But as a result of global warming, the ice melts up earlier in spring and develops later in autumn, leaving the bears in desperate lean times. Instead of thick ice, heaps of kelp covers the shore. Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.”

Black and white image of plastic recycling in Bangladesh

“Plastic Treasure” by Alain Schroeder. Gold, Photojournalism category. Silver, People category.
“Recycling plastic in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is a significant environmental effort. The city faces challenges related to plastic waste due to its rapid urbanization and population growth. Various initiatives and informal recycling networks have emerged to address the issue.”

reFocus Black & White Photo Contest

“MIRAGE” by Shunya Tomita. Gold, Still Life category.
“This is a beautiful piece created from thousands of sheets of paper.It should just be a pile of papers, but its shimmering appearance resembles the light of the moon reflected on the surface of the water, or a mirage that disappears like an illusion.”

Black and white photo of a Samoyed Atlas standing proud at Reynisfjara in Iceland

“Nature's black and white” by Fleur Scholte. Silver, Domestic Animals category.
“Samoyed Atlas standing proud at Reynisfjara in Iceland. His bright white coat created a perfect contrast against the black basalt columns.”

reFocus Black & White Photo Contest

“Mayti Series” by David Allan Brandt. Gold, Fashion & Beauty category.
“Part of a project photographed in Havana, Cuba”

Black and white photo of a graveyard

“Eternal March” by Rick Lingo. Non-professional, 3rd place.

Artistic black and white photo of a person under water

“Rebirth” by Michael Potts. Gold, Fine Art category.
“In my ongoing underwater ‘Dreamtime' work, I seek moments of sublime peace (that fine line where the conscious and subconscious meet) and the creative chaos (where energy is released, that fine line is broken, and the potential becomes kinetic).”

reFocus Awards: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by the reFocus Awards.

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Stunning Black and White Photography of Global Architecture

Incredible Winners of the 2023 Black and White Photo Awards

Striking Winning Images of the Inaugural Black and White Minimalist Photography Prize

Striking Black and White Photos of Beautiful Rock Formations Found in the Western U.S.

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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