Behind the Images - Volume 2

March 16 : 2023

by Team reFocus

Explore the stories behind an intriguing selection of images submitted to our contests.


Photographer: Alessandro Pollio

The story behind "Oxheart" is a peculiar one. In February 2021, I was working with my model on an entirely different project: after an accident, his body was covered by bruises and he offered to pose for documentation. During the session, however, he started to have doubts about showing his body. Therefore, we opted to photograph an area that was free of marks and that could, instead, turn into a creative opportunity for him to frame a more delicate memory of the event.

Seeing his lean back, with clearly visible vertebrae and shoulder muscles, I immediately thought of oxheart tomatoes. That is how the concept of the photo sparked. What you see in the background is an academic painting from the 19th century, which I recreated and enlarged to use as a backdrop. Backgrounds are crucial in my work as they set the tone for the image, and help create an immediate reading of my main focal point, be it a shape, a line on the body, or a combination of elements. In this case, the backdrop also resonated with the almost classical shape of my subject.

"Union of Diversity" 

Photographer: Paul Brouns

Omnizorg in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn is a shelter for the homeless, drug addicts, and people with psychiatric disorders. In addition to this noble function, the building expresses a bright and uplifting playfulness through its colorful window shutters and glazed brick surface.

This photograph is part of my ongoing photography series titled, Urban Tapestries. A characteristic of this series is its straight frontal view angle onto façades. Because of this approach, all attention is attributed to the visual elements of the façade itself: the rhythm of the bricks and windows, the colors, and the shallow depth of the shutters, playfully fixed in different positions. Another vital characteristic is the absence of the spatial context of the building, as this also distracts from what I believe has to be the essence: the abstract beauty of the internal dynamics of the façade itself.

While post processing I was delighted to see that the building also gives shelter to a few unexpected inhabitants on the outside, as three birds found refuge in my composition; one quite visible on top and two of them half hidden behind and beneath the window screens. Together with the building’s positive contribution to the community, this discovery inspired the title mentioned. I hope that through my work it will radiate the same happiness and positivity also outside of the original location.

Architect: Antoni Folkers

This image is part of a series titled, "Us and Them." 

Photographer: Leslie Fratkin

As I was walking one day, I stepped over the curb and nearly walked right into this woman – skinny as a stick, with the most hypnotic eyes I'd ever seen, wearing only a thin tube top, black stockings pulled up to her waist and, on her head, an enormous, messy white wig. I introduced myself and asked if I could photograph her. She hesitated at first, but then, in the tiniest voice imaginable, she said, okay.

I shot a few frames, becoming gradually aware of a man parked in a car next to her, looking disapproving and annoyed. After a couple of minutes, he stepped into the frame and said, enough. She immediately looked down and turned away. I thanked her for her time but she didn't say another word. She simply jumped into the man's car and they sped away.


"Faces of Hardcore" & "Stage Angel" 

Photographer: Sixteen Flowers

“Stage Angel” and “Faces of Hardcore” were both taken at Knockdown Center in Queens, NYC for the CORPUS: IN BROAD DAYLIGHT music festival.

“Stage Angel” was taken during Zelooperz’s performance. I positioned myself far enough from the end of the stage so that I could photograph the contrast in lighting between the stage and the crowd. I was able to photograph the moment when one of the attendees stage dived, giving the photo the ability to showcase the chaos of the crowd with an almost angelic quality.

“Faces of Hardcore” was taken during Show Me The Body’s performance. I wanted to focus on the front row of the concert usually comprised of the most expressive and dedicated fans. I intentionally did not focus on the artist as my subject but more on the concert goers’ experience in relation to the artist.




Black & White Photo Contest

Black & White Photo Contest

Early Bird

Apr 8th - Jun 5th

Regular Submission

Jun 5th - Jun 26th

Extended Submission

Jun 26th - Jul 23rd

The Black & White Photo Contest by reFocus Awards welcomes both individual image and series submissions that honor and explore black and white photography.

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