Photo Feedback

Marcel van Balken, Creative Flair Category Winner
2019 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Awards

When the judges saw Marcel van Balken's photo in our competition, we wondered if someone was 'stirring the pot'. Last year in Australia, a photographer had entered a very similar image into a professional competition, only to be called-out by the website - the professional photographer's colour photo is identical in many ways to Marcel's black and white, which you see here. After investigation, the Australian photographer was disqualified.

In photography competitions, if judges are impressed by the imagination, the concept and the idea behind an entry, they'll reward it with high marks, so it can be incredibly disappointing to learn later on that images you rewarded were actually inspired by the work of someone else. Of course, we're all inspired to some extent by everything we see and experience, but there is a difference between inspiration and direct copying. We're not sure where Marcel gained his inspiration from, but we're convinced it's all his work, a simply brilliant photograph and we applaud his imagination.

Self-taught, Marcel van Balken from the Netherlands 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."

The 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. 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."

Notice how simple and elegant the composition and framing are - there aren't any extra objects or distractions to be found. And note that when placing the running man, a near silhouette has been placed in front of a light part of the background - so the figure stands out. When compositing images together, it's decisions like this that make an image successful.

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