Creative Connection

“Nordic Retouch” Contest showcases Talented Creatives in the Nordics

The “Nordic Retouch” contest—organised by Swedish photomagazine Kamera & Bild, Adobe, and Eizo, and the first of its kind in the Nordics — asked talented creatives to show their work in three categories: “retouch,” “montage,” and “abstract.”

In my work at Kamera & Bild, I get to meet a lot of creatives. A lot of them are exceptionally talented, but some have something extra that makes their photos pop. As a professional, you also need to know how to edit, retouch, and ship your photos. Commercial photographers also need to develop ideas and listen to their clients to achieve the expressions and effects they are after.

There are also a lot of creatives who aren’t photographers, but still spend a lot of time in front of their computers creating awesome fantasy worlds, magical artwork, and unbelievably cool dimensions that really tease your mind. However, a lot of their creations never even get out of their hard drives.

We wanted to change that with Nordic Retouch. There are a lot of photography contests in the Nordics, but we wanted to add an extra dimension by pushing into an uncharted playground for creative contests in the region. And, given the response, I think we hit it spot on!

Together with Adobe and monitor manufacturer Eizo, Kamera & Bild presented an opportunity for all creatives in the Nordics who consider themselves to be more than a photographer. The idea was simple: We wanted competitors to show off the extensions that are possible when working with photos. We came up with the idea of creating categories to encourage participation. With the help of the talented Swedish creative Erik Johansson, we decided on three categories for the first year of the contest:

  • “Retouch”: Contest participants were asked to show off their skills in changing colors, contrast, and appearance of an image—and how the final image can be made much more exciting than the original.
  • “Montage”: Contest participants were asked to use different photos to create a new image, blending lighting, shadows, and colors together naturally to create something unique and perhaps unnatural.
  • “Abstract”: Contest participants could use all kind of methods and nonfigurative elements in the image to create a feeling of the unknown yet artistic.

Calle Rosenquist, Editor-in-Chief at Kamera&Bild and Erik Johansson, photographer, from the jury with the two Swedish winners Pontus Björkbacka and Elias Klingén on stage at Creative Meet-up in Stockholm.

The jury consisted of seven of the most respected names in the Swedish photography and creativity community—me, as a photojournalist and editor in chief of Kamera & Bild, creative Erik Johansson, retoucher and photographer Elin Kero, photographer David Bicho, creative director Oscar Hellqvist, photographer Sara Arnald, and photographer Christoffer Hjalmarsson. Their mission was to choose a winner in each category.

The jury first selected five shortlisted photos in each category. These photos were exhibited during the Swedish Photo Fair on November 11–13, 2016, where they received a lot of attention from visitors.

On November 7, at the Adobe Creative Meetup in Stockholm, the three winners were revealed on stage, with the two Swedish winners, Pontus Björkbacka and Elias Karppinen, present. On November 24, the Creative Meetup went to Helsinki, Finland, to deliver the award to our Finnish winner, Antti Karppinen.

I’ve been amazed by how this competition has been recieved! Because there have been no other contests with these categories, ours has opened great opportunities for people to explore their own boundaries—photographers can explore retouching and use of software to enhance their photos for a specific purpose, and nonphotographers can mix in more thoughts about telling a story and trying to visualise a message. It has been really cool to be part of the startup team for this contest. Moreover, by doing so, we’ve been able to explore the boundaries of our magazine and expand the concept and the ways of competing in photography.

Winner “retouch” category: Pontus Björkbacka, Sweden


Words from the jury: “With both humour and style, the retoucher got the original photo to really pop. A quite ordinary dog in clothes has been transformed to a cool personality with a great expression. The detailed use of contrasts and colors in the photo add a nice feeling to the photo.”

Winner “montage” category: Antti Karppinen, Finland


Words from the jury: “In this photo, which is full of symbols, the creator has managed to blend several elements to create a beautiful image—sky, water, and life—in an unending flow. The montage is of very high quality and opens up to a new reality for the viewer.”


Winner “abstract” category: Elias Klingén, Sweden


Words from the jury: “With the impression of a mix of hard metal and soft liquid, the winner has managed to visualise the abstract in a very exciting way. The content looks like a living and unreachable essence, whilst its forms are in harmony.”



Creative Photography, Image Editing, Photography

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  • By Mirela - 12:07 AM on December 8, 2016   Reply

    Congratulations! Wonderful art!

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