The ENR community came out in droves to participate in ENR’s annual Year in Construction Photo Contest: as photographers and photo submitters and even helping to selct the issue's gatefold cover.  

More than 1,100 submissions—a jump of 22% over last year—provided insightful windows into construction sites located on every continent around the world except Antarctica. Submitters included both past winners and people new to the competition. Photographers included both professional and hobbyists. Photo gear ranged from the latest in advanced digital photography to high-flying drones to shoot-from-the-hip smartphones. 

Judges included Michael O. Lavitt, director of editorial content production at Informa Markets, and leader of Aviation Week’s popular annual photo contest; James Kane, NYBU EHS director for Turner Construction Co., who kept an expert eye out for safety concerns as well as looking at artistic merit; Bruce Buckley, professional photographer and editor; Dylan Schutter, junior art director for BNP Media and ENR; and James Leggate, ENR’s editor of online news.

“I was impressed by the quality of the photos and surprised by some that I assumed had been made by professional photographers but were actually shot by someone working on the project,” says Leggate, who joined the ENR staff in September. “It was eye-opening to see these projects from the perspective of the people building them.” 

Schutter says he enjoyed experiencing the contest from a new perspective after working on the production side of things for the past few years. While he says the judging process was smooth, “I underestimated what going through more than 1,000 photos would be like!” 

Schutter adds that having a “group with varying backgrounds in the industry was helpful when asking specific questions about the photos. I may not have noticed a worker being tied off incorrectly or specifics on how a material would be fit into place during construction which was extremely useful when digging into possible winners.”

ENR tasked its readers to select the cover star from among six finalists that were posted in a poll on The two-week-long poll became a nail-biter up until the end, with the leader changing hands several times. In the end, Matthew McFarland’s photo of Centene’s east coast headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., for contractor Clayco took top honors with 44% of the vote. 

Thank you to all who shared the poll on social media and participated, which helped triple the number of votes from last year to more than 28,000.