1st PlaceSOLDIER | KRISTINA VARAKSINA
I've been doing portrait photography for about 10 years, though it's only in the last three years that I've taken it seriously. In this image, I'm telling a story about a woman who isn't happy with her life, or at least with the current situation. It's an observation of herself, an anticipation, a desire to change something. I like revealing something about a person that isn't usually on the surface. I think a great portrait leaves emotion that you remember long after you saw the photo. I also love telling stories, so that the viewer can look at a picture and make up a narrative in their head. The best advice I've ever received was to do my homework and to think through as many details about the shoot as possible, from scouting, sketching, testing and so on. But shooting is tough for me when I can't get what I had in my mind. There can be several reasons: a location isn't working, a model doesn't give me the right feeling, my lighting setup isn't working for the mood. The first and the last problems may be fixed by changing and trying. Getting the right expression from a model who can't relax, get into the mood or just can't stop posing is the toughest for me. In that case, I try to catch them off-guard.
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 85mm ƒ/1.2 II USM, window light, handheld
2nd PlaceTHIS IS MY STOP | ART H. SIEGEL
When I was 8 years old, my father was given an early Polaroid camera as a gift. Having no use for it, he handed it to me. I began taking photos of people I knew and people I didn't know. I'm fascinated by human interactions, especially in crowded metropolitan environments. I feel that the best people shots occur naturally. You just have to be in the right place at the right time to capture them. The New York subway system is one of my favorite locations. Thousands of stories are written in the faces of riders. We never actually know their stories, so we just have to imagine them. I took this shot on a very quiet weekday time, when relatively few people were on the platform or the trains, and the interval between trains was extra-long. Here, I captured a woman anxiously, yet patiently waiting to board, while two other passengers inside their car have faces glued to the glass. None of them acknowledges the others or makes eye contact, but all are part of a brief moment of theater taking place in a very small area.
Equipment: Nikon D800E, AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm ƒ/4G ED VR, available light, handheld
3rd PlaceBLUE EYE | TATIANA GERUSOVA
I love shooting women. Women possess the mystery of sensuality, and each woman is beautiful. They play and tease, they have secrets, they mesmerize you with their grace. I also really enjoy capturing all kinds of emotions. It took a while for me and my model, Mosh, to finally shoot together. Even though this was a little shoot, Mosh put it all out there. I wanted her to show a range of emotions with the least possible amount of expression. I think she nailed it! What attracts me to a portrait, on top of the composition being pleasing to the eye, is when a picture makes me create my own story or wonder what's going on. High-contrast black-and-white work has been an influence on me. It definitely adds so much secrecy. I also love the Golden Era, retro-chic and classic Hollywood cinema.
Equipment: Nikon D600, AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm ƒ/3.5-4.5G ED VR, two umbrellas, handheld
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