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Every photo tells a story. But, what is the story behind the ones the photographers are most proud of?
What makes them different from any other photos in their portfolios?
We've reached out to some of our favorite and talented photographers and asked them to tell us the story behind the shot they are most proud of. Check them out below.
“When I was studying in NY, I made an amazing friendship with a girl from Argentina. We used to make a lot of walks around the city to take pictures of everything. It was always funny and inspiring. We laughed and talk for hours and hours. This picture reveals our last day walk together. We knew that the next day she will go back to Argentina. We were having such a good time, but at the same moment, I was sad. We were about to cross the street and in a fraction of a second, I capture her looking down. She is getting out of the frame, merging with the background and disappearing.”
Facebook: Burrard-Lucas Photography
“I took this image during a trip to the Masai Mara, in which I was specifically focusing on photographing big cats. In particular, I wanted to try and take wide-angle close-up images of lions that would be impossible to achieve by hand. In order to do this, I built my own remote control buggy with a DSLR mounted on top called “BeetleCam”. It was on the morning of the fourth day of my trip that a perfect opportunity presented itself… a male lion, eating a freshly killed wildebeest. The lion had made the kill during the night and I came across him at sunrise, whilst he was still feeding on it. The light was beautiful so I quickly deployed BeetleCam. It was great to discover that the lion was so distracted by his kill that he completely ignored the buggy and I was able to capture a series of amazing photographs. I couldn’t believe my luck! It was a great reward for a lot of hard work.”
“The image that I am most proud of is a shot of wild horses running through a field in Western Australia and I love the image because it was a combination of luck, timing, and skill to pull it off. I have been in the Kimberley for almost a week and spent quite a lot of time with the helicopter pilot that was flying when I took this shot. So much time that he was starting to get a bit of an idea of what sort of photography I was into and how I shot aerials. After a morning flight the pilot, Guy, asked me if I’d like to see if these wild horses were around and I said yes immediately. He gave me an idea of what I could expect if we found them and I chose my equipment and settings accordingly. Once we arrived the horses were startled by the noise of the helicopter and started to run and that’s when I got this shot. Had I not had the right lens on or the right settings I would have missed it. Had Guy not thought to offer to take me here, I would have missed it. So many circumstances led to this shot and it’s been a face since the moment I clicked the shutter.”
“I recently created a series of images based around the Haenyeo of South Korea. They are part of a tradition that has been passed down from mother to daughter for 1000 years. They are the Korean mermaids, who venture into frigid depths of up to 20 meters without any breathing equipment, braving the dangers of the ocean, as they scour the seabed for food. They are fascinating to me because the bedrock of their culture is to always leave something for tomorrow: they live sustainably. There’s an honesty to their way of life, a romance that I find humbling. In the series I created, I have tried to portray them as mythical sirens hanging weightless, deep in the ocean, on the threshold of becoming lost in the black water or rising to the surface to return to the real world. Today, most of the Haenyeo are into their later years, and their culture is threatened by rapid ecological and industrial change as well as the deteriorating quality of the ocean but I prefer to depict them as they once were: young and free.”
“For me, it is difficult to say which photo I am most proud of.
But I can tell you that one of my recent pictures made me very proud indeed. It is a capture of a kingfisher and the story behind is that I have been on the prowl for that bird consistently for more than two and a half years. One might say where is the problem to take a picture of a kingfisher? You can find lots of pictures of kingfishers in the world wide web and it is a bird with a cosmopolitan distribution. But my goal was to take the picture in the Eifel, a low mountain range in western Germany where I live and which is my home, though I knew that kingfishers are pretty rare here. So I spent lots of hours on investigating its distribution and habitat, its behavior and ecology, couched again and again. It took me quite a long time - but a few weeks ago I got him! For me, this picture and its story are symbolic for the life of a nature photographer. Being a nature photographer requires a lot of patience, you have to manage disappointments and sometimes you have to drink gallons of coffee (or tea), especially when you are on the prowl for a certain animal or a unique light situation in landscape photography. But when you are able to persevere long enough you will be rewarded by the perfect moment!”
“The photo of which I am most proud of is called 'Don't dream your life, live your dreams'. The title refers to the idea that I had a few years back of setting up something for myself. Things went a bit differently, but at the same time, I have achieved more or less want I had in mind. I work now with great people, give workshops on forest photography with Edwin Mooijaart and developed a workflow for portrait retouching with Yen T Do. And that is what this photo is about: chasing your dreams and focus on what you want. Because if you just start and you are persistent enough, you can realize your dreams.”
“I wanted to create a series where model can't control everything. I used male hands painted in black to make a contrast and to see how will gonna look like when another person does things and not you. Why black? Because black show strength, black is such a strong and powerful color. We are living in a world where people telling you what you need to do, media is controlling you, technology, everything... I wanted to send a message that the only person who can that is nobody but you. Don't let anybody control you. Everything is in your hands and not others. You are your own boss, be brave, be happy, be that person who can say anything you want, do whatever you need and live life to the fullest. I have one more photo with the story: "Don't be limited. There's a whole new world around you. You just need to let it in and live." I choose the open field which means the new world, open world, there's no obstacle, constraints, everything is in your hands, like a blank page.”
“This picture is called Hedgetroll. It shows my Spanish rescue mutt, Scout. What I’m actually a bit proud of is that my dogs trust me enough to pose for my pictures in unusual places and awkward situations. Scout here used to be very shy when she joined our family at 5 months old. She didn’t dare to jump on things or take center-stage in any way. Whenever she did something she found intimidating, we applauded her and cheered her on. You could actually see how she grew in size and was pleasantly surprised about our elation. Other rewards were food treats and running together very fast or a play to release energy. We challenged her frequently. She gradually became more self-confident. I do think that photography played a major part in her turning into a very relaxed and brave dog now. I always make sure that a photo session is fun and entertainment for the dogs and everybody else involved. Scout here taught me a lot about patience and a calm approach to pet photography. The absolute basics in dog photography are to get to know your camera inside and out so as not to miss a moment by fiddling with controls and settings. As we deal with living beings we need strategies to handle and motivate them.”
“For about 3 months a year, a big part of my garden lupines are flowering. It is growing like a weed and they have wonderful different colors. Every year I try to capture squirrel together with these flowers with my camera. I set up scenes with lupines and hang food between them in the air. Most of the time the flowers are too damaged after one squirrel visit that I have to use new fresh flowers. Most squirrels avoid to go in a split and just climb in 1 flower. For 5 years wild red squirrels are visiting my garden daily and I capture them on a photo in different scenes. This photo has got many awards and has been published in newspapers and magazines like National Geographic. Different companies have approached me for selling it as postcards and posters. It is a photo where I am very proud of.”
“The photos I am most proud of are the photos I took in my messy kitchen. I shoot with cheap Chinese flashlights and still I manage to produce professional results in my kitchen. You don't need a pro studio or amazing camera just use your imagination.”
“Coffee most often plays the lead in my photos. I love the reputation that coffee has among artists and designers: as liquid energy and fuel for creative work. In a way, coffee is an inspiration itself. Moreover coffee, sweets, and food, in general, are so common and simple. If you work with something very mundane you can create a variety of stories for it. When you use simple things everyone can understand you. Everyone can have coffee and cookies. Do you want to make a photo of a scientist? He can have a coffee break during research. Do you want to make a photo of an artist? He can get oblivious and put brushes and pencils in a teacup. These objects are so simple and common, they can get everywhere. And they can take a photographer everywhere with them. Each type of character, each place in the world are united with simple everyday things. And I love the ease and beauty of it.”
“A few years ago, I began suffering from eczema on my face and body and it took a serious toll on my mental and physical health as it progressed and escalated. I found myself compromising my love of photography because of my own insecurities of showing my face to the world. I wasn’t inspired to create as my energy was wrapped up in battling these health issues. My whole world began to change.
While desperately looking for help both online and in the real world, I realized just how much other people were silently suffering from their own issues but putting on a brave face to the world. The ironic part is, I always championed others for being strong and beautiful and here I was feeling the complete opposite! We don’t see ourselves how others see us, and that is just what I wanted to change, for others and myself.
This inspired me to create a personal series that showcased people who have insecurities or who have been on a journey. I decided to reach out to my feminine audience online, sharing that I wanted to photograph them and also share their personal stories. I wanted them to be the inspiration for others that have gone through so much in their lives, showing how it’s still possible to be strong and, more than anything, remind them how beautiful they look in the eyes of others.
And so, ‘Beauty in Bloom’ was born. A project dedicated to celebrating every beauty, femininity, inner light, the strength of spirit, and the Queen within captured against the ever-changing, ever-resilient backdrop of nature (a metaphor for womanhood if there ever was one!).”
“Well, the image I am most proud of is the image 'wind'
I created this image when I just started creating composites around 2011. On this image, you see me, with my son hanging on my jacket while it's stormy weather. If you look at the light and other technical things, it's not my best picture, but it was a good start. I didn't know what was happening when I put it online on several social media platforms. The day after my inbox exploded. Thousands of emails and it motivated me to continue with this kind of photography/digital art until this day.
A funny story. A friend of mine asked me at that time 'what if this will be the most successful image of your career', like if you create your best image at the beginning of your career and never create anything better again. We had to laugh about that, but the fact is... till now this images is most used by advertising companies around the world and most shared on Social Media. I did create better images, but the strength of this image is its simplicity.”
500px: Stéphanie Poulain
“This photo was taken on the island of the city. At the bottom, we see the bridge of Arcole, on the right the town hall of Paris and in the foreground the cobblestones under the water and the lamppost partly immersed ... It is a current photo but which is actually well deeper than that. For me, it represents the oldest duality of the world, that of man and nature ... Man believes he can tame everything, and he does it for a while. So he builds and appropriates natural spaces all over the Earth, not hesitating to destroy what exists to build in his own image and selfishly according to his own needs. It imposes on the Earth its own vision without worrying about what lives around, the ecosystem. But from time to time nature reminds her that she is the strongest and that it would not be difficult to destroy everything with the most natural elements, the wind, the fire, and here the water. The Seine comes out of bed and gives cold sweats to one of the oldest cities in the world. As a warning to all the excesses of men ... Man must learn to remain humble in the face of nature, civilization must not forget all that it owes him. Man must realize that he must live in respect for what the Earth offers him, and not in the absolute desire to dominate and destroy it. It is to give a warning that sometimes nature reminds the man that she can take back her rights at any time ... Will a man make a call to what makes him human? To say his conscience? Only the future will tell us... In the meantime ... The man is capable of the best with his fabulous constructions, his magnificent lights, breathtakingly illuminated cities, but to accomplish that he must do the worst, destroy a natural beauty that he no longer knows how to look at or appreciate because It takes the spectacular to the man ... Then nature offers him spectacular with natural disasters. Finally, we come back to this famous duality of man and nature ... Who will win? While man and nature are complementary ... For when all is well, Paris, the Seine natural river and the bridges human constructions, are the worthy spectacle of which the two partners can do more beautiful.”
Flickr: Patricia Ware
“My passion is taking shots of birds in the wild, so I never know exactly what my photographs will look like. For many months I ventured to the cliffs hugging the coast in Southern California trying to get shots of the Peregrine Falcons. I was able to get many flight shots, the birds mating, and the fledglings just learning to fly. The Peregrines attracted many other photographers, most with tripods, but I prefer the freedom that hand holding gives me. One of the days I was there, one of the fledglings took his first flight. I got the shot when he flew by me, but I wanted more. Leaving the other photographers with tripods in my dust, I chased after the young peregrine. Because he was just learning to fly, he didn’t fly too far and landed at the top of the cliff. Even though I was out of breath when I caught up to him, I was able to get several detailed portraits at eye-level. Additionally, the distant cliffs and the close blossoms created a sweet bokeh.”
“I have had to think for a while which picture I am most proud of, but intuitively I would go for this picture:
I try to go to forests on overcast days to scout for new locations and try out compositions and this was also the case with this location on the Veluwe, The Netherlands. It is an area I know extremely well, as I was born and raised there. I had taken this picture in less than ideal circumstances during one of my scouting trips and then one later in extremely dense fog. The third time that I was able to take a picture of this spot was with a little less fog, which gave the picture more depth with the birch trees in the background showing. I love these kinds of micro-landscapes, where the conditions matter more than the actual subject.”
“I am almost always enthusiastic about my last picture. I feel like I am part of a constant learning process. Almost every day, I learn new techniques, new possibilities, which I immediately bring into my pictures. I am particularly proud of the picture "Mythical creatures". For this picture, I received my first „official“ award. Creating an image is an intense process and if the result corresponds to my inner vision, I am completely happy. And that is what happened with this picture.”
"My current favorite shot is this one of a young leopard. This one stands out among the other frames I shot during my 2017 safari. This little guy was just about the most beautiful cat I had ever seen. He was on a tree with his mother, and this shot with the light, framing, and focus came out just as I had hoped, if not better. I don't often edit in black and white, but there is an air of mystery and timelessness to the black and white."
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