Mikhail Potapov, first prize. Aerial shot depicting the beauty of Lago-Naki Plateau in the Caucasus, Russia. Feedback from judge Bastiaan Woudt: “I kept coming back to this image in the selection round. The dynamics of the image, the repetition, and the mystery, are all present. Why is that horse walking there? Are they high up in the mountains? A very beautiful image that would not look out of place in a beautiful frame on a white wall.” (Mikhail Potapov)
Photo Editor

Although color photography is arguably more ubiquitous these days than black and white photography, that wasn’t always the case. The first color photograph came on the scene in 1861 when a man named Thomas Sutton created it. Before that, black and white photography reigned supreme. This article from Adobe can tell you more about how color photography came into being. Even when I first became interested in photography many many (too many) years ago, black and white was still the way to go. In fact, I was still using black and white film to complete both classwork and newspaper assignments when I was studying photojournalism at the Missouri School of Journalism about 20 years ago.

My point is that black and white photography has never really been completely overwhelmed by the advent of color photography. To this day, there are many prominent photographers working both in the art field as well as photojournalism who prefer to use black and white film. If I’m being honest, I have to say that black and white photography is my preferred medium. I find that it strips things down to their essence and can sometimes be much more effective in transmitting emotion than color photography. That isn’t always the case, though. There is a lot of color photography that does the same thing. But, again being honest, at least in my opinion, it is far more difficult to make compelling color photographs. It is a testimony to the skill of the best color photographers who are able to do that and I have great admiration for them.

Now, having said all of that, today I’m happy to highlight the winners and finalists of the Independent Photographer’s (an international network of photography enthusiasts & photographers) Black & White Photography contest. In a statement provided to In Sight, the purpose of the contest is described as, “Regardless of genres, we wanted to celebrate the beauty and wealth of Black & White photography. Be it in street, fashion, portrait, landscape, documentary, or any other form of photography: we wanted to be moved and inspired.”

This year’s contest was judged by Dutch photographer Bastiaan Woudt. An accomplished photographer in his own right, Woudt’s work is represented in Amsterdam by the Kahmann Gallery and in Atlanta by Jackson Fine Art. In addition, his work has been widely exhibited and it has also been featured in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, the British Journal of Photography, GUP and Vogue. More information about this year’s contest can be found, here.

Without further ado, here are some this year’s winners and finalists:


Anastasia Ermolenko, finalist. A poetic exploration of femininity: self-discovery, self-acceptance and the opportunity for growth during this crucial period of transformation faced by women when the bloom of youth and the fresh blossom of sexuality is over. (Anastasia Ermolenko)

Luke Clements, finalist. Shotover Valley — Queenstown, New Zealand. Taken on a glorious winter’s morning flying in a helicopter. There was a fresh dumping of snow the night before, which was awesome to see from above. (Luke Clements)

Giorgos Tantsis, third prize. Karpathos, Greece. An elderly woman walks up from her local church. (Giorgos Tantsis)

Olga Urbanek, finalist. Winter — Berlin, Germany. (Olga Urbanek)

Ney Mila, finalist. New Territory — New York. New Territory is a collection designed by Tailor Aziza Rozi, which represents Uighur culture and broader current issues of politics. (Ney Mila)

Diana Firlag, finalist. “I remember that feeling of complete detachment from real world while driving through Icelandic highlands. It felt extremely safe to be there. This volcanic land looking pretty rough at first glance turned out to be so soft and warm in ‘touch’ and even bad weather seemed to be rather welcoming than revolting.” (Diana Firlag)

Mile Modic, finalist. Slow the Spread — Split, Croatia. (Mile Modic)

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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