Spanish photographer Pedro Díaz Molins was one of ten winners chosen from over 100,000 entrants in the Sony World Photography awards, announced on Wednesday.
Molins, from the town of Orihuela in Alicante, was the winning entrant in the Enhanced category, which includes photographs that have been digitally changed or enhanced in post-production.
Photo: Pedro Diaz Molins/Sony World Photography Awards
His other-worldly photograph features an elderly Spanish couple on a beach, the woman gazing into the camera lens and the man walking towards a staircase that seems to rise endlessly into the clouds.
"The image is actually a blending of five photographs taken in Torrevieja," Molins revealed to The Local.
"One day I went to take photos of the sunrise and when I came back home I saw the first swimmers of the morning. The woman captured my attention because she seemed recently arrived from the 1960s."
The Spanish photographer’s unusual inspiration was actually a design concept - planned obsolescence - which is the title of the winning shot.
Used to describe the practice of designing a product to have a limited lifespan so the customer is forced to buy another one (examples include the lightbulb and today’s Apple products including the iPhone and iPad), Molins applied the concept to people and how they, too have a limited "shelf life".
"We don’t want to believe it but we are programmed to stop working. Someday we will turn ourselves off like some kitchen appliance," Molins told The Local.
"Although our spirit is intact, our hardware will come to its end. In the foreground, the old woman looks to connect with the spectator and transmit that she has made her decision. In the distance, the old man is steadily making headway to the stairs without turning back," the photographer added.
Photographer Pedro Garcia Molins.
The photograph won in the Enhanced category, which is still controversial among traditionalists who believe the less photographs are tampered with in post-production, the better.
"The category definitely has a lot of detractors because it is about employing different digital techniques," said Molins, "But in my opinion, photo manipulation is a more artistic category than photography."
"It is only when photo manipulation is used to cheat that it is not an art form," he added.
Molins’ inspiration in creating enhanced photography comes from a desire to explore his own imagination.
"Sometimes when I see photographs from other photographers that have an impact on me I think I would like to take their style of photograph, but I can’t travel everywhere I would like to go so instead I decided to create the images I have in my mind," he explained.
There is unlimited scope in the Enhanced category; something which Molins believes makes it one of the toughest to compete in.
"I think perhaps "Enhanced" is the most competitive category because the limit is only the photographer’s creativity.
"It’s great that the World Photography Organization has included this discipline and it is a huge honour for me to win this year."