Oliver Atwell (Senior Features Writer) – ‘Condition #5’ by Guia Besana
“My image of the year comes from Guia Besana’s series ‘Under Pressure’, a project that challenges our warped perspective of the ‘ideal woman’.
“While the discourse of feminism has helped us to gradually structure a reclassification of just what we mean when we use the word ‘female’, our notion of femininity is still placed firmly within a series of lazily assembled types, ones still perpetuated by film and literature. Here we find one such trope: the bride. The trope of the bride is a fleeting one. It’s a stopgap between two other ideals: the innocent virgin and the doting housewife.
“The bride’s body is concealed within a ritualistic uniform. It’s cocoon-like, further highlighting the idea that, through the archaic ritual of marriage, this butterfly-to-be will be transmogrified from one trope to another. The bride aggressively thrusts a bouquet of flowers towards an unseen target. We all know the tradition of throwing the bouquet to the crowd. Here the bride is passing on the ritual of marriage as if her unseen target has no say in the matter. After all, isn’t our expectation that all little girls grow up to get married, bear children and create a perfect home?” www.guiabesana.com
Richard Sibley (Deputy Editor) – ‘Forest Flyer’ by Simon Phillpotts
“I have seen thousands of images this year, and have been impressed by many. However, when I was forced to stop and think of one in particular the picture that came to mind is Simon Phillpotts’ ‘Forest Flyer’, which was highly commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards. In itself, the image is quite simple – a shot of a red squirrel jumping from one tree to another – but the angle and colours make it look like no other shot I can remember seeing.
“The picture is taken from below with a fisheye lens and a dash of fill-in flash to illuminate the body of the squirrel perfectly, and freeze the action mid-flight. The technique is flawless, but it is the simplicity and humour of the image that brings a smile to my face.” www.wilddales.co.uk
Paul Nuttall (Online Production Editor) – ‘Christ the Redeemer’ by Yasuyoshi Chiba
“As a bit of a football fanatic, every four years I become fixated with the World Cup. I looked forward to this year’s tournament with particular excitement as it was taking place in what some would say is the spiritual home of football – Brazil.
“A football World Cup is a sports photographer’s dream, with endless photographic opportunities in a wide variety of locations up and down the land. As such, it’s difficult to pick out a single standout image from the tournament. That said, this image captured by Getty photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba on the day of the World Cup final itself has that extra something special you look for in an image of the year. The combination of the ball-shaped full moon highlighting the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain – itself lit in the national colours to celebrate the occasion – seems to encapsulate the month’s festivities in a single shot.” www.gettyimages.co.uk
Jonathan Devo (Technical Writer) – ‘U Bein Bridge in Mandalay, Myanmar’ by Shuo Huang
“On a sweltering day, Shuo Huang cycled along the U Bein Bridge in Myanmar, the sun setting behind him. Suddenly, he heard a deafening clap of thunder and within seconds the bridge was deluged with monsoon rain. The locals scurried for shelter, but as the bridge cleared he marvelled at a phenomenal light diffused by the rain transforming the landscape. He leaped off his bike to capture the moment and took this picture.” www.shuophotography.com
Andy Westlake (Technical Editor) – ‘Comet on 4 November’ by NavCam
“Some photographers like to brag about how far out of their way they’ve gone to get a great shot. The European Space Agency probably went further.
“I’m a landscape photographer at heart, and in a previous career I was a research scientist. My choice of standout image of the year reflects this.
“At first glance it may look like an artfully chosen shot of a striking rocky outcrop with a star field beyond, but it’s actually Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and therefore taken more than 300 million miles away from the earth. It underlines a basic human urge that lies behind much of photography – when we go somewhere new, we want to make sense of it by taking a photo and sending it home.
“For the technically minded, this is a mosaic of four frames from the Rosetta spacecraft’s NAVCAM camera, each of 1-million-pixel resolution, which has been slightly rotated and cropped. This has turned it into a visually striking composition, which I suspect is no accident; scientists can be artists too. Basic record shots are all well and good, but pretty ones are better. To me, this is simply the most remarkable photograph of 2014.” www.esa.int/spaceinimages
Phil Hall (Features and Technique Editor) – ‘Côte de Buttertubs’ by James Maloney
“With one of the greatest sporting events passing almost in front of his doorstep, James Maloney didn’t want to miss this unique opportunity – and I’m glad he didn’t.
“The enthusiasm and excitement that Yorkshire would host the opening stages of the Tour de France had been building significantly in the preceding weeks, but I don’t think anyone would have fully appreciated the reception and crowds that would gather in their thousands in the Dales, turning the Buttertubs Pass (renamed Côte de Buttertubs for the event) into something that would shame some of the most popular climbs in the Alps.
“James’s shot sums it up perfectly for me. The tight crop has resulted in a strong composition, so it appears the peloton is somehow merging into the thronging crowds. The overall sense of drama that you get from the shot is hard to beat. It’s almost as though a mini amphitheatre has been created to watch these riders torture themselves on climb gradients, some of which can be 25% in places.” www.flickr.com/people/liverpoolmerc
Chris Cheesman (News Editor) – ‘Looking down Artillery Lane towards Artillery Passage’ by Charles Mathew
“I have cheated a little with this image in that I’ve selected a photograph that was clearly not taken this year, but it has been featured in this year’s news nonetheless.
“This 1912 image of Spitalfields in London, by Charles Mathew, is a spontaneous, candid-style street shot taken in an era when it was common for many subjects to pose. However, the significance is actually in a blurry newspaper hoarding in the background. In their quest to pinpoint the date it was taken, researchers spotted the partially viewable word ‘Titanic’, leading them to conclude it must have been taken in the days after the Titanic hit an iceberg on 15 April 1912.
“The way children are dressed in the photograph suggests it was captured during the Sabbath, the Jewish holy day. This simple, yet effective, piece of detective work implied it was taken on Saturday 20 April 1912.” www.elevenspitalfields.com
Michael Topham (Deputy Technical Editor) – ‘Wildebeest Migration’ by Chi Hung Cheung
“My favourite image of the year was chosen from a stunning selection of shots that made up this year’s Sony World Photography Award winners.
“The picture was captured by Chi Hung Cheung and depicts a heart-pounding scene of wildebeest migrating in Kenya across the torrents of a river. There are many elements to the scene that, in my eyes, make it the best wildlife image I’ve seen this year, but essentially it’s all about the light and the timing of the shot that have made it what it is.
“With strong backlighting, Chi Hung Cheung has successfully silhouetted his main subject while capturing the drama of the wildebeest launching themselves into the water. He has managed to record an impressive level of detail throughout, right down to capturing the water droplets in pin-sharp focus.
“The first time I viewed the photograph, I spent some time studying it and taking it all in, but I do question how close a representation it is to the actual scene at the time of capture. I believe there’s been some post-production work that’s helped create an image with such a wide dynamic range, although I don’t find that this detracts from the image and instead enhances what any professional wildlife photographer would tell you is a truly stunning shot. I’d love to have the opportunity to speak to Chi Hung Cheung about how he went about capturing it. It only seems to get better the more I look at it.” www.worldphoto.org
Nigel Atherton Editor – ‘Monkey Selfie’ by David Slater/a monkey
“I have chosen as my image of the year a picture taken by a monkey. It’s an outstanding image, and probably the best photo of a monkey I’ve ever seen. Even now, after viewing it dozens of times, it still makes me laugh. There’s something about the expression; it’s so human, as though it’s fully aware of what it’s doing and completely au fait with social media.
“Yet the fact it was the macaque that released the shutter, instead of the photographer David Slater who provided the camera and set it all up, has led to a bitter legal dispute between Slater and that whole generation of internet evangelists (led, disappointingly, by Wikipedia) who are opposed to the concept of having to pay for content and would like the internet to be a copyright-free zone. They claim that it’s the monkey that owns the copyright, making the image effectively free to use without payment.
“The likes of National Geographic have been using camera traps in wildlife photography for years. Photographers like Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols and Steve Winter have won numerous awards for their self-captured images of tigers and snow leopards. Is Wikipedia and its followers claiming that these images are copyright free too? Funnily enough, they’ve been strangely quiet about that. Could it have something to do with the fact that taking on the might of National Geographic and its team of lawyers would be much riskier than picking on a solo British photographer with limited power to fight back? It will be interesting to see how this case develops.” www.djsphotography.co.uk
Callum McInerney-Riley (Technical Writer) – ‘Norway – A Time-lapse Adventure’ by Morten Rustad
“Over the past year I have seen so many inspirational images that it has been really difficult to pick just one. From the pages of Amateur Photographer to candid shots uploaded on Twitter, there have been hundreds that have really impressed me – and on occasions made me a little envious. However, one piece of work by a young Essex-based photographer, Morton Rustad, had me captivated with his masterfully created time-lapse video taken in Norway.
“Morton spent five months shooting in all of Norway’s 19 counties, capturing everything from the deep fjords in the south-west, to the moon-like landscape in the north and the aurora borealis. The video just gets better and better, and it’s a truly outstanding piece of work.
“I picked this single image from the set as it shows the light just peeking over the mountain. In the time-lapse video you see how the clouds move and the sunlight pours over the mountain and onto the lake below. I wholly recommend watching the whole video. It’s beautiful.” www.rustadmedia.com
Jon Stapley (Staff Writer) – ‘Untitled’ by Hairul Azizi Harun
“We often laud images for telling stories at AP, and here’s a cracker. Hairul Azizi Harun won the Sony World Photography Awards’ Split-Second category in the Open Competition, and it’s difficult to see how anyone else could have come close.
“The story in question is a tragicomedy in one act. It has been captured at the perfect moment – the mutual obliviousness of every single person involved is what gives the image its humour. Neither the woman throwing the water nor the man with the camera has any idea what’s about to happen, and we’re viewing the last fraction of a second in which that state of affairs is true. Vitally, the fast shutter speed has frozen the moment into complete stillness. The image wouldn’t work as well if we couldn’t see exactly what was about to hit the unfortunate photographer in crisp detail.
“The boy under the house to the right of frame, easily missed on first viewing, adds an extra layer of intrigue to the image. What’s he doing under there? We can’t know. If you wanted to overuse an English degree you could mention how his surreal and wonderfully inexplicable mask makes him reminiscent of an archetypal mischievous spirit, like Ariel in The Tempest or Puck of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Hairul took this image in a village in Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia. He says how his image narrates ‘the pains and gains of being a photographer, the heritage of an old house, forgotten traditional games and the old generations meeting the new’. Can’t argue with any of that. A thoroughly deserving winner!” www.worldphoto.org
Andrew Sydenham (Studio Manager) – ‘Le Visiteur’ by Horst Kistner
“There is a lot of great imagery online and updates from the One Eyeland community (oneeyeland.com) regularly adorn my inbox. It was here a few months ago that Horst Kistner’s ‘Le Visiteur’ caught my eye.
“From a series of exquisitely crafted small room sets, the light through the window and wind-ruffled curtain delicately highlight the figure and the visiting butterfly. The quality of light gives this personal work from Kistner a high-end advertising feel. This slight contradiction is why it appeals to me so much, with elements of classic painting, concept art photography and commercial possibilities combined.
“Kistner’s work has recently been featured in the Germany photography magazine Stern and he is currently preparing for an exhibition in New York in early 2015.” www.silent-cube.eu