2 Essential Ingredients of Contest-Winning Photos

The Guardian’s Eyewitness app was one of the first I downloaded when we bought the iPad. Whether you’re generally fascinated with photography or not, the presentation of photos are absolutely stunning and it offers the perfect blend between inspiration and motivation. Only one photograph is uploaded per day which is a quirk I finally came to accept because the opportunity to focus on the study of the technical accomplishments of one photo is far better than trying to crunch in 5 or 10 in a day.

What’s so captivating about these photos you ask? Simple. There’s an underlying story behind each and every one of them. A story we would have never been previewed to had it not been for a photographer being there to tell it with one single frame and there’s nothing more impactful than that in the industry. All of them also have 2 essential ingredients which Alex Garcia states are necessary for a piece of work to qualify it as a contest-winning photograph. He talks about Access and Intimacy:

Access provides a window for other people to gaze into, to be amazed by, to wander about and to learn from. Or to provoke the question, “How the heck did this person get that kind of access?!”

Intimacy closes the deal. It not only brings us into someone else’s environment, it makes us care. Intimacy provides the personal connection for which we strive with other human beings to create. It is at the heart of humanitarian photography.

I launch The Guardian app every morning and in retrospect, there’s not a single photograph where you don’t see the sheer indication of access and intimacy in all of them. I think the subject in a photo matters as much as the story you’re trying to tell with it but I’m learning that when you manage to introduce as much access and intimacy to it as you can, it makes a much greater impression on the viewer.

Alex’s fundamental advice is “if you are really serious about bringing more attention to your work, it would be beneficial to ask, “What would it take to bring a greater level of access and intimacy to this situation - in a way that people haven’t seen?”