Smithsonian Photo Contest Exhibition

The photography exhibition I went to showcased the photographs from the Smithsonian Magazine’s 7th Annual Photo Contest and was held in the Great Hall of the Smithsonian Castle. The photos of the exhibition comprised five different categories: 1) altered images, 2) Americana, 3) the natural world, 4) people, and 5) travel. The category I enjoyed the most was the one with people. This collection included photographs of people from all over the world. There were nine photographs total, but I will describe the four I liked the most. One photo depicted a man surrounded by magazines in his magazine stand in Budapest, Hungary (in black and white). Another photo showed a smiling boy swimming in a pond full of lily pads in India. Another showed children playing and throwing water in the air in Bali, Indonesia. Then the last displayed two women in Myanmar with baskets of food on their backs, smiling at each other, with one of the women drinking water.

All of the images were very powerful and beautiful. All of the photographers used composition, depth, and many other elements to their advantage in order to create such powerful images. With the women in Myanmar, for example, there was a very shallow depth of field. The subjects were in clear focus, but the background was distant and blurry. And for the boy in the pond in India, the rule of thirds was used very strategically so that the boy was in the lower left corner of the photograph. It would probably seem odd if the boy was right in the center of the photograph, but since he was off to the side more attention was brought to him. Contrast was also another element used in the photography in this collection. The photographer who captured the man in his magazine stand used contrast when he made the photograph black and white. Lastly, the uses of lines and movement were very beautiful in the picture of the Indonesian children. The children themselves acted as lines and the water in the air represented the movement in the photograph.

Each of the images in this collection conveyed strong messages. Most of the photographs depicted human life in other cultures, which included what certain people do every day or what they do on special occasions. I believe that the photographers were trying to depict simplistic human actions. I like this because although there are so many cultures, humans still do the same basic things; we all laugh, drink water, read, and have fun together. I feel that photography like this (the kind that captures human beings) brings us humans closer together. By looking at these images we realize that we are not all that different even though we do live in different cultures and dress and act differently.

I think most people will appreciate these images. I just hope that people will be able to look at these images the way I do and see them as a way to connect to other human beings. This type of photography is really valuable in my opinion because of the way it allows others to connect with humans in far away places. How would we know what the man in the magazine stand looks like until we actually visit him or see a picture of him? These photographs make the world smaller, and allow us to connect with other people we normally would not meet. Overall, I am really happy about what I saw and experienced at the Smithsonian photography exhibition. I am definitely more interested now in photography that depicts people.

(Note: I was going to post the images on my blog, but the pictures from the Smithsonian site were not compatible with my computer. I also looked for the images elsewhere online, but could not find them.)


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