Last week’s showcased entries from our 2023 Photography competition showed us how color can be used to enhance a photograph and make its subject or subjects stand out. This week’s entries, however, go in the complete opposite direction, embracing photography’s roots with some stunning monochrome shots. These photographs show why clear contrast, while an important element in all photography, is especially important when working in black and white.
Our first entry, “A Viking Horse Looking Towards Reynisdrangar_The Three Petrified Trolls in Vik, Iceland” (above), comes to us from photographer Per Breiehagen’s personal studio. The horse depicted in the photograph is an Icelandic horse, a breed brought to the island by the Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries. With there being one horse for every four people in Iceland, this breed is a symbol of Icelandic identity and resilience and an ideal subject for this photograph. The horse’s dark fur and light mane mark it as the clear subject of this piece, looking out at another landmark of Iceland, the rock formation of Reynisdranger. Legend has it that the rocks were once trolls that were petrified in the morning sun, and the horse almost seems to acknowledge this with its wistful gaze.
Our other entry comes from Graphis Master Craig Cutler. The photo series, titled “Flower Drip” (above) is a personal project that consists of black and white shots of various flowers that have been dipped in paint. According to Cutler, his objective was to use this project as a means to look at still life with flowers in a completely different way. While Breiehagen’s photo used dark shades to indicate the subject, Cutler uses the opposite approach. By pairing lightly colored flowers and paint with plain, near-black backgrounds, each flower immediately stands out as the focal point of the piece. The paint also creates additional visual interest for the viewer, giving them a line of movement to follow. In the monochrome format, it is also hard to tell where the paint ends and the flower begins, making it seem like the paint comes from the flower itself, adding a somewhat surreal quality to the images that would be much harder to achieve in color.
You can check out the full collection of our Photography Annual 2023 entries here. To enter our 2023 Photography competition, click here.