The 2022 500px Global Photography Awards was created for the photography community to provide them a chance to showcase their skill and be rewarded for it. The second edition of the competition consisted of six categories: Technical, Storytelling, Commercial Content, Documentary, Fine Art, and Landscape. Today on the blog we’re talking with the winner of the Documentary category, as he walks us through the BTS of his winning image and more.
Hi Caleb, please introduce yourself!
I wasn’t your brightest student but I aced my art class since kindergarten and it wasn’t till I got my first iPhone that I found the love of my life, photography. I was taking photos of everything and anything I found interesting but the passion that burnt within wanted more. I started taking professional photos in 2019 but faced a whole bout of challenges because it’s not easy to break out as an established professional photographer from West Africa, Ghana. I pushed through and fed my passion with work. Initially, I shot high-end fashion, weddings, editorials, and documentary photographs. But then I realized through prayer and consistency that I had an innate passion for capturing and relishing the stories of others through my lenses. I focused mainly on documentary photography and did my best to guide others to understand specific people through my lenses.
The winning image: “Growing Through the Cracks”
What attracted you to the documentary genre of photography?
Documentary photography is about storytelling, and I relish stories—especially stories that need to be told as much as they need to be heard. My interest in capturing the stories of other people from diverse demographics and ecosystems, particularly the minority whose lives could use the spotlight, may have ignited from an aesthetic experience I had while working on a challenging project I was given during an internship with a photography firm.
What was the atmosphere like when creating the shot “Growing Through the Cracks”? Any memorable moments?
The atmosphere was inspiring, it was truly surreal. The setting empowered me to tap into my creativity as soon as we got there, and since I met the models there for the first time in person, that contributed to the excitement and anticipation.
I had already visualized what it was going to be like. Finally, I was going to tell a story I had romanticized for a while. This was my opportunity to create a beautiful picture with the enigma (maybe where I’m coming from). I was so carried away during the shoot, I damaged my batteries after sitting in seawater without noticing.
What gear did you use to create the winning image?
The gear that I used to create the winning image is my Canon EosR, TAMRON 24-70 mm, Ad 600, and a softbox from Alzo.
What was the energy like on set, and did you feel like you got THE shot straight away?
The energy was priceless. The day of the shoot happened to be the first day most of the models had met someone like them in person. We had already broken the ice and created rapport virtually. Seeing each other in person was ecstatic. Everyone put in 100, with an attitude that felt like they were owning the moment. It was so serendipitous, it fostered new ideas and great shots. Many shots felt like “THE” shot.
The image is quite high contrast with very cool tones. Was this an intentional choice when editing, and if so, could you share with us your thought process when editing and refining the image?
Having visualized and envisioned the resulting photographs, I only had to conjure a magic I’d already seen in my mind. This entailed the color selections, the locations, and the mood. I wanted an archaic, timeless, and classical look—something outside the popular. But, I still had to keep the contrast to allow viewers to interact with the photos from a contemporary perspective.
What message do you hope that “Growing Through the Cracks” conveys to viewers?
I hope that “Growing Through the Cracks” will convey the need to accept the peculiarity of life and creation to my audience. Anomalies are inevitably woven into time and as we continue to discover the boundless occurrences happening to life as we know it, some of these discoveries are going to be within ourselves as humans. Yet, that shouldn’t make us cower or fold up away from each other, but seek understanding while we continue to esteem each one of us as human. We should show the grace we demand of others. Yes, it is said that we fear what we do not understand, but we should strive to see the beauty in the patches. My image is set to create awareness of vitiligo, and help viewers see beauty in the unusual.
What attracted you to the 500px Global Photography Awards in the first place, and how did you decide on what images from your portfolio you would submit?
First of all, I came across 500px on Instagram through a friend—Melinda—who shared the link with me. Also, I was fascinated by the way 500px acknowledged creatives worldwide. I must say this motivated me into taking the next step. I decided on selecting “Growing Through the Cracks”, because it was a recent project that I was planning a solo exhibition on but wanted to expound with more perspective. I didn’t know I was testing the waters with a masterpiece.
Has winning a global award and earning the title of “the photographer of the year” in a talented community instilled you with new confidence in your practice? Are there any other new projects our community can expect to see from you in the future?
Winning the global award and earning the title (photographer of the year) in this community has instilled some confidence in my practice for sure, and I am eager to show more projects after this. I actually have a long list of them—complete ones, and the ones on the drawing board. The community can expect something exceptional.
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