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Marcel van Balken, 2019 Creative Flair Category Winner

The Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year awards have been updated this year to reflect our four most popular categories and cash-only prizes. With an international audience and many of the product prizes being shipped overseas, we've decided to avoid the hassles of postage delays, customs duty and packaging everything safely!

Instead the four categories - Classic Landscapes, Emotive Portraits, Exotic Travel and Revealing Nature - each offer a $750 first prize, and then the overall winner (chosen from the category winners) will receive a further $2000, taking the total cash pool to $5000.

So while we don't have the sport and creative categories this year, we still expect to see a high level of creativity. Last year's Creative Flair category winner by Marcel van Balken could easily have taken out another category - such as Travel. Self-taught, Marcel van Balken is no stranger to photography awards and is an avid participant in competitions around the world.

"As a photographer, I am interested in specific themes and conceptual photography. I believe in working thematically with an absolute preference for surrealistic and creative photography. I move ideally in the field of surrealism and magic realism. I prefer to create photographic images inspired by everyday reality, combined with my own imagination. I strive to carefully compose photographic compositions of realistic looking scenes in unreal and sometimes magical spheres."

His winning image, titled The Runner, is located in the Central Station in Arnhem, Netherlands. Added Marcel, "I was inspired by the architectural design of this station: an architectural space in a play of light and shadow which forms an almost surrealistic decor."

Marcel used a Nikon D750 with an AF-S FX Nikkor 28-300mm lens. "In post-production, I created a fine art black-and-white image in which the photography of architecture begins to take on abstract forms, reinforced by the apparently disproportionate addition of a man. It's all about constructions and shapes, lines and surfaces, photographed in sharp contrast to the insignificance of man."

Creativity as a category may be missed by some entrants this year, but we're hoping there will be plenty of creative opportunities in the genres of landscape, portraiture, travel and nature.