Winning an award in a photo contest brings a lot of positive benefits. There’s the pride of having your work recognized by your peers; the prizes, whether they are symbolic, monetary or material, and the additional visibility and recognition. We asked last year’s The World We Live In Grand-Prize winner, Guylaine Beauchamp, to talk a little about herself, her work, and her experience participating in the contest. And Guylaine has also shared some of her photos from the cruise she won to the Far North!
Photo Life: Aside from the prizes, what have you gained from having participated in The World We Live In?
Guylaine Beauchamp: Participating in a photo contest is a way of taking time to reflect and question. It is a way to allow yourself a little distance from your images. Exploring the hard drive for a photo contest lets us reconnect with our vision of light, perspectives, colours, and we can plunge into the emotion we felt when we snapped the photo. The World We Live In was a platform for sharing my work, my vision, and above all, my passion for photography. And The World We Live In helped me see the world!
PL: What advice would you give to someone who is considering entering the contest for the first time?
GB: Advice? Your photo will be up against thousands of others; it needs to stand out. It won’t do that if your subject and/or technical choices have already been done again and again. Find the idea that will confront viewers and lead them to ask questions. Personally, I try to get out of the ordinary and not do what’s already been seen a hundred times! My photographs are generally rather minimal and go straight to the subject. The reader can’t get lost…
PL: What is your main source of photographic inspiration?
GB: As a specialist in the rigorous field of medical imagery in my everyday life, it’s behind the lens that I can let myself be enthusiastic. Rather intuitive and spontaneous in my photographic process, I am first inspired by light, textures, shape and shadows. I try to see things differently. I attempt to observe changes. For example, a city changes; it moves and reinvents itself. In short, I don’t photograph what my eye sees but rather what it imagines. Cities, nature and people interest me, but it’s behind the lens that my ideas are born and evolve.
PL: What is your all-time-favourite image that you’ve taken?
GB: A photograph of a shadow of a bike that I took several years ago in a small village in the Netherlands—for its light and its story! The low light at the end of the day created an incredible texture and colour on the old paved streets. I was seated on the ground for a long time watching the magical moment every time a bike would pass by. A homeless person came a sat down near me and understood what I was trying to do. He used gestures to communicate that he would let me know every time a bike was getting ready to go by. I got my shot, put away my gear and simply shared my sandwich with him. People also help make moments and images special.
PL: What is your next photo project?
GB: I have too many! My head is full of simmering ideas. At this stage of my practice, I prefer to deepen a subject or a technique and not to diversify too much. But after several years of exploration and extremely diversified practices, it’s difficult…very difficult! Distance is undeniably helpful for feeding my creativity. I have a slightly crazy idea (because I don’t have enough time!) of doing a long-term project on a single theme that I particularly like. It’s at an embryonic state now, so I can’t predict how it will progress and how I will share it. At the same time, I am also working with a colleague on a collaboration that brings together photography and writing. There you go! I’m not lacking for ideas, but time is a rare commodity!