Agora is a free photo app born in 2016 whose aim is to “empower people everywhere to share their visual stories” through their unique point of view. In order to “democratise and humanise photography”, Agora launches photo contests on different topics every week. Participants, after registering on the app, can upload their best photos. showcase their best shots, connect with other photographers, win amazing prizes and be featured across Agora’s social media channels.
One of the contests I enjoyed the most is the #BestPhotoOf2020 . 2020 has been a challenging year but looking at these photos will make you see that beauty is all around us, regardless of what is happening in the world. Agora shortlists their 50 favourite photos and here I will show you my top 5.
‘Standing before giants’ by @e.stis — Italy
“Through this shot, I wanted to show how massive these peaks are. I asked a friend to stand in that spot in order to give an idea of the scale. This is one of those places in the Italian Dolomites that I’ve always wanted to see with my own eyes. We woke up at 2 am and drove a couple of hours to make sure to get to this spot for sunrise. Sunrise itself was a bit disappointing, however as the sun was getting higher in the sky some huge, low clouds started dancing around the peaks, creating this eerie atmosphere. I quickly asked my friend to stand on that spot and as soon as the peaks were out again I took this photo. If I win, I would definitely invest the prize in what I love doing the most, which is photography. The photographic gear I’m currently using is quite basic and for a long time now I’ve been dreaming about upgrading my camera body and buying some prime lenses, and as every photographer knows, they’re ridiculously expensive. This would allow me not to take better photos since I strongly believe you don’t need expensive gear to do that, but to pursue a career as a photographer, which has always been my biggest dream.”
‘My wife, my pearl’ by @fondphoto — Russia
“I shot this picture of my wife wearing a dress we made ourselves from fabric that reflects all the colors of the rainbow. In the summer, this lake turns pink due to the special plankton — one of the most unusual places I’ve been to. This lake has a depth of just 3–4 centimeters so when you walk on it, it feels as if you are walking across the sky, as the water reflects it. Through this shot, I wanted to achieve a minimalistic picture, with no human structures, that transmits tranquility and unity with nature. The dress, which looks more like a pearl, does not have its own color but reflects the environment, thus it fits perfectly in harmony with the rest of the picture. We got a nasty surprise on this shoot given that the salt on this lake sinks underfoot, scratches the skin, and causes pain, meaning we also had to throw out the shoes which we were wearing. Then when the dress dried out, it turned to stone, like wet clothes in a severe frost. If I were to win, I’d use the money to pay off our mortgage and go on a new trip for new adventurous photos with my wife.”
‘Twin Boys together at home during the world pandemic crisis’ by @hwilson8 — USA
“The subjects of my photography are my twin sons, Luke and James, and the connection they have as identical twins. There is a very real need for connectedness and comfort in others. We, as humans, long for togetherness, connection, understanding by our fellow humans. My boys have a unique connection that I have only been privileged to witness as identical twins. Although the isolation of recent world events has been devastating and difficult for so many, children possess innocence and intuitiveness in knowing when it’s necessary to feel connected, in a way we all do. The emotion I wanted to convey was just that: being connected, being together, and understanding one another in a world that often feels so divided is a healing and powerful source of strength and motivation to keep growing, keep moving, and not to give in to the oppression so many in today’s world feel. Surprisingly this photo was not staged although it may look like it was. The boys were together on the landing on our stairs and they were laying together. Right as I shot the image one boy closed his eyes while the other looked straight at me. I often find them together like this. Close, connected, touching. There are so many children needing homes and shelter right now in America and in the world at large. They need medical care, loving homes, people to come alongside them, and love who they are no matter their race or heritage. I would most certainly use much of the prize money to continue the fight for the children of the world to have clean water, a place to live, and a loving home.”
‘Two elements’ by @sergeytolmachev — Russia
“I have been fascinated by water drops for a long time. One day, when it was raining, I looked at the drops and it seemed to me that they were falling in a special way. That was the first time I saw crowns instead of drops. I came home and decided to experiment with the “fall” of water and to shoot this exciting process. After a while, I got so fascinated by it that I have now read a lot of literature on the topic of water, its forms, and states. I even began to dream about the drops. Sometimes, instead of the drops, I saw various silhouettes and other fantastic water sculptures and I wanted to create them in reality. To do so, I had to create my own nozzles. Later, I started to add other elements into my works, such as fire, gold powder, smoke, etc. Many people still think that I use photoshop in my work. I do not, but I am glad that my photos do not leave people indifferent. The size of the water sculpture (jellyfish) in the picture is about 40cm. In order to receive the fire, I had to burn the brake parts cleaner. The nozzle was designed by myself. If I win, I would invest this prize money I knew more technically advanced photo equipment.”
‘Freediving mist’ by @victordevalles — Spain
“The day I took this photo the sea was very flat and calm. When I went inside the cave, there was this kind of fog or cloud which, mixed with the sun rays, changed the colors, the texture, and the ambiance of the cave. After setting my camera down and starting the continuous shooting I went to the surface through the sun rays and managed to get the right shot. In my photos, I want to transmit those moments in which I freedive alone, calm in a beautiful and special place with rare and unique conditions. To go to this cave you need to walk close to high cliffs, walk between big rocks, swim a bit, and then dive around 30meters inside the cave, in the dark, wait for the sunrays to set the camera at the right place and swim to the place, wait then repeat the process to get the right shot. My passion is underwater photography, so this prize would allow me to keep doing what I love full time.”
Images from Agora Images