While each of this year’s 40 winning photos were evaluated individually on their photographic merits by a panel of six judges, ENR’s senior art director Scott Hilling spotted a common theme that unites the winners. “As I reviewed all of them, something was standing out across many of the images, but I just couldn’t put my finger on directly what it was” says Hilling. “As I continued my review, it finally hit me. More so than in past years, these images show a similar beauty in their geometry, with symmetry, harmony, bold lines or shapes.” Each subject has been captured with an eye towards that visual appeal, such as “the shape of a bridge or pipe at a certain angle, the energy or force in a worker’s action, the angle of a shot or the direction of shadows, each frozen in an image that is visually stunning,” he adds. The judges assessed more than 1,000 entries to make this year’s selections.
With this year’s 40 photo contest winners appearing here and throughout the magazine, senior art director Scott Hilling curated the images to take the reader through a visual narration of the ups and downs many in the industry experienced in 2021. “Many of us started the year off stuck at home, facing dreary times and tough roads,” Hilling says. “We faced isolation, with difficult and rough environments to navigate our way through. At times it felt like we had the weight of the world on our shoulders. So many unknowns left us overwhelmed. Figurative and literal walls were erected to protect ourselves, and sometimes we were left just staring at them. But as we struggled, people started to come together to help each other out. Gray skies lifted. Life felt a bit more normal. People were back together, supporting each other. Beautiful work carried on, and while things still can get dark again, we know how to persevere. At the end of the day, we can stand there knowing we can get through anything.”