Alain Schroeder

Top 10 Visual Storytelling through 10 images

© Alain Schroeder

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”– Lewis Hine

─── by Josh Bright, January 5, 2022
  • From the pre-eminent photojournalists and social documentarians of the twentieth century to the most articulate visual communicators of our time, for generations, great photographers have sought to convey stories through their lenses.

    We have surveyed some of the most captivating entrees from our previous competitions and selected 10 images that display the medium’s immense, edifying power.

    Kristof Vadino, documentary photography, visual storytelling. Alex, 41, mussel fisherman, lives with his wife and two daughters in a cabin by the sea in North Jakarta, Indonesia.
    “Jakarta Sinking” © Kristof Vadino

    1. “Jakarta Sinking” (Finalist Visual Storytelling Award 2020) – Kristof Vadino 

    Sea level rise is a key facet of the climate crisis, and in few places is it more evident than the Indonesian capital, a city of over 10 million people that is rapidly disappearing beneath the sea. Kristof Vadino’s striking portrait depicts Alex, a local mussel farmer, as he goes about his daily work in the waters near his Jakarta home.

    It is an image that is rich in striking juxtapositions, most notably, the stark contrast between our protagonist’s
    weathered boat and clothes with the ultramodern, alabaster edifices in the background, thus emblematizing the disparity that exists here. Alex and his family, who live in a waterside cabin will no doubt suffer the most immediate and devastating effects of the rising tides, but, if nothing is done, there is no doubt that those luxuriant monuments will, one day, feel the impact as well.

    color medium format analog landscape photograph in the Shetland Islands
    “Ninian Northern Platform” - Shetland Islands, 2021 © Peter Iain Campbell

    2. “Ninian Northern Platform”, Dales Voe, Shetland Islands, June 20, 2021 – Peter Iain Campbell

    Scottish photographer Peter Iain Campbell has spent years documenting the UK’s oil and gas industry (one of its last remaining heavy industries), culminating in his ongoing series, “Their Helicopters No Longer Sing”, which focuses on the end of life stage for Drilling Rigs and Production Platforms and their decommissioning and onshore dismantling. 

    Expertly captured in large scale, a rusting, monolithic carcass lies incongruously on the verdant landscapes of northwestern Scotland: a symbol of a dying industry, and perhaps for Britain’s once-proud standing as a global industrial power.

    color photo of a family dipping their months old child in the Holy river Ganges -Varanasi, India by Mohit Khetrapal
    “Dip of Irony” - Varanasi, India © Mohit Khetrapal

    3. “Dip of Irony” Varanasi, India – Mohit Khetrapal

    The Ganges has long been central to the culture and tradition of Hindus in India, believed to wash away the sins of those who bathe in its waters and bless them with a long and healthy life.

    However, it is extremely polluted, and bathers run the risk of contracting deadly diseases such as Hepatitis, Cholera, and Typhoid, an irony to which the title alludes. Yet for millions, such as the family artfully captured in this image, such risks are not a deterrent, faith overrides, and thus, newborn babies are routinely immersed in the murky shallows.

    black and white photograph by Alain Schroeder shot In the village of Uzgen, Kyrgyzstan where more than 170 horses and men are playing Kok Boru.
    'Kok Boru, the Dead Goat Polo' - Uzgen, Kyrgyzstan © Alain Schroeder 

    4. Kok Boru, the Dead Goat Polo’, Uzgen, Kyrgyzstan (2nd Prize Winner, Open Call Award 2020) Alain Schroeder 

    Schroeder‘s captivating image depicts a traditional Kyrgyzstani sport, wherein mounted men fight furiously for possession of a headless goat carcass.

    A large-format monochrome masterpiece, it is an intensely arresting composition, a menagerie of man and beast, shrouded in a dusty gauze. It imparts perfectly the intense energy of the occasion; the fervency and determination of the participants and brings to mind the works of Sebastião Salgado, one of the greatest visual storytellers of our times.

    Title: “Mercedes” - Havana, Cuba 2018 Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment.
    “Mercedes” - Havana, Cuba 2018 © Rosa Mariniello

    5. “Mercedes”, Havana, Cuba 2018. (1st Prize Winner, Open Call Award 2019) – Rosa Mariniello

    Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment.

    A triumph of light, color, and form, Mariniello‘s image exemplifies the artistic potential of portraiture. The rich, kaleidoscopic hues of the blanket, and by contrast, the subtler iteration of the backdrop, draw the eye to the protagonist who is illuminated beautifully by the angular natural light. Her reclined pose is perhaps a nod to the iconic paintings of the Goddess Venus by the masters of the Italian Renaissance (namely, Giorgione and Tiziano) and conveys strength and confidence befitting of her unique beauty.

    Syrian Umm Mohammed and her husband drink coffee at their destroyed home in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. Color documentary photography by Sameer Al-Doumy
    ‘Another face of War’ - Douma, Syria, 2017 © Sameer Al Doumy 

    6. ‘Another face of War’, Douma, Syria, 2017 (1st Prize Winner, Emerging Talent Award 2020) – Sameer Al Doumy 

    Sameer Al Doumy‘s image is thoughtful and sobering, an intelligent composition that verges on the surreal. An elderly couple captured during their quotidian routine, a quiet moment of seeming normality that accentuates the incongruity of the utter devastation around them. Depictions of conflict, have been central to the development of documentary photography and photojournalism, and remain fundamental tools in shaping perceptions. Al Doumy’s iteration is a stark reminder of the devastating impact of the Syrian war, and a testament to the strength and resilience of those left behind. 

    Black and white photo by Javier Arcenillas - 'Maras Gang Member Praying'. San Francisco Gotera jail, El Salvador. From long term project 'Latidoamerica'
    'Maras Gang Member Praying'. San Francisco Gotera jail, El Salvador © Javier Arcenillas 

    7. ‘Maras Gang Member Praying’. San Francisco Gotera jail, El Salvador (3rd Prize, Visual Storytelling Award 2020) – Javier Arcenillas 

    Taken from Javier Arcenillas’ award-winning ongoing project, “Latidoamerica”,  this powerful monochrome image portrays a heavily-tattooed member of El Salvador’s Maras gang deep in prayer in a San Salvador Jail. Beautifully framed and impeccably timed, it is a striking portrait that permeates with visceral energy and effectively communicates the essence of the scene; a young man trapped in a life of poverty and violence, searching for redemption.

    Ross Long, aerial photography of Lake Nabberu, a little lagoon in Western Australia
    “Little Lagoon” - Shark Bay, Western Australia © Ross Long

    8. “Little Lagoon” Australia – Ross Long

    Ross Long’s aerial rendering depicts the aptly named “Little Lagoon”, which forms part of a larger lagoon system in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia. Cut off from the pernicious grasp of humankind, this compact ecosystem has thrived, and pullulates with a diversity of marine life: rays, sharks, and seahorses, to name but a few.

    Captured beautifully from above, the surreal topography is typical of the region: azure waters set against arid, auburn surrounds. Moreover, the 90-degree angle accentuates the abstract quality, evoking the color field paintings of the 1940s and 50s, it extols the diverse, and at times, surreal beauty of our planet.

    The mudiest race in the world can be found in Indonesian regency Tanah Datar. Bull race, Indonesia, documentary photography by Jozef Macak
    "Mud Race", Indonesia © Jozef Macak

    9. “Mud Race”, Indonesia – Jozef Macak

    Slovakian photographer Jozef Macak has beautifully captured the unique thrill of the traditional, harvest bull race that takes place annually in the Indonesian regency of Tanah Datar.

    Perfectly-timed, and framed: the pair of bulls and their jockey are conspicuously centrally sets, bursting from a crescent-shaped, mirey, explosion. It arrests the viewer’s attention and communicates brilliantly the dynamism of the scene, rendering the viewer feeling that they are present, and demonstrating why the event has been dubbed ‘the muddiest race in the world’.

    Sharwar Apo The Effects of global warming" - Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Black and white photography of dried up river
    "The Effects of global warming", Rajshahi, Bangladesh © Sharwar Apo

    10. “The Effects of global warming”, Rajshahi, Bangladesh – Sharwar Apo

    The climate crisis has been well-documented by photographers in recent years, but few single images capture its malevolence quite so effectively as this transcription of a dried-up river in Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Between November and March, the region is, in the artist’s own words, akin to a ‘valley of death’, a desolate wasteland devoid of drinking water and crops.

    The unelevated viewpoint emphasizes the desiccated landscape and its otherworldly textures, whilst both the bridge and the solitary figure, bowed by the weight of his agricultural tool, seem almost incongruous in such obviously barren surrounds.  It is a sobering image that serves as a stark reminder of the need for immediate action.

    All images © their respective owners