The Best Bling: Photography 2022 Winners

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder is the photographer in this week’s issue. These three photographers stunned judges with their visionary eyes capturing photos that tell a visual story in a series of award-winning works. 

Jewelry is its own form of art as wearable sculptures, and what better way to capture the craftsmanship and detail work put into them than photography? In the Platinum-winning collection, “Ring Redux” (above, left), photographers Hadley Stambaugh and Colin Douglas Gray created a campaign for SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) that documents a series of rings for a book about Ring Redux: The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, an exhibit the college hosted last year. The collection features works dating from the 1950s to the present from designers such as Wendy Ramshaw, Peter Skubic, Deganit Schocken, Tone Vigeland, and many more.

As the title says, the photographs focus entirely on rings, but these aren’t your regular engagement or wedding rings: these rings are art pieces for the finger, with the jewelry artists’ thought-provoking ideas, use of both traditional and unconventional materials, and innovative techniques creating one-of-a-kind pieces. Stambaugh and Gray photographed a wide variety of rings, from multicolored butterfly wings with fluid patterns and shapes to a silver half ball and chain that defies gravity by floating straight up in the air. Not only were the details of the rings captured, but so was the work of the hand models. Each hand is positioned perfectly to display the best feature of each piece, showing just how great it would be to have them in your own personal jewelry box.

A more traditional but no less stunning jewelry series was also shot by fellow Platinum winner Darnell McCown. In a pre-production meeting, McCown met the client, Heritage Auction Dallas, who had brought visual examples of jewelry displayed on cubes. It was determined that the cubes would be used in the shots as “representative” cubes on which to lay the jewelry, and the backgrounds would be created digitally.

Despite the limited choices, McCown makes the most of it for “Fall Fine Jewelry Auction #5521” (above, right), shooting an array of deep blue still lives that use the cubes to model each piece in the most flattering way. For example, in one image of two brooches, the cubes worked out well as a “real” background, rather than as stand-ins, so McCown changed direction, using the jewelry and cubes to compose fully realized images. Though placed at a certain distance from the camera, the smallest details of the jewelry are still easy to see; you can easily pick up on the fiber texture in the tassel necklace, the two-tone stones of the brooch, and the placement of the diamonds on the second necklace. That we can see such tiny features speaks to the artistry of both McCown and the jewelry maker.

We move away from jewelry with this last photograph, but it’s still just as shiny. In “The Boombox Living Room Series” (above) the photographer, Lyle Owerko, captures this ostentatious, obnoxious gold boombox in a self-initiated project that places the gaudy piece of old technology in various furniture store displays that don’t match the appearance or aesthetic. 

“The series celebrates both authenticity and audaciousness through mixed metaphors – the meeting of both loud and lowbrow cultural signifiers served on a pedestal of retail brashness and bold opulence,” says the artist in his state. Indeed, the photographs do parallel what is seen in furniture and stores nowadays, a mix of high and low-end products and styles coexisting to create a unified piece.

To see more award-winning photography in the Photography Annual 2022, click here. And don’t forget to submit your work to our Photography Annual 2023 competition!

Author: Graphis