Image in modal.

The amazing flood of entries to the ENR annual Year in Construction photo contest was overwhelming—both literally to our online entry system, and emotionally in the drama, scale and artistry the photos convey. This year’s jury, along with ENR Senior Art Director Scott Hilling and me, examined nearly 1,200 images and picked just 50 winners that skillfully capture the action of construction jobsites and the human spirit that goes into creating the built environment.

This year’s hard-working panel included (L to R in photo): Nadine Post, Buildings Editor-at-Large, ENR; Martin Chandrawinata, Construction Manager, Prescience, a Bureau Veritas company; Vera Galvez, Executive Vice President, Operations, Maspeth Welding; Aileen Fuchs, President and Executive Director, National Building Museum; and Belinda Butler-Knight, Safety Director, AECOM Tishman. For the first time since before the pandemic, the entire jury assembled in person in ENR’s New York headquarters, which added to the camaraderie.

Photo contest judges

Photo contest judges picked 50 winners from nearly 1,200 entries during a day-long meeting at the Empire State Building.
Photo by Scott Hilling/ENR

Sydney Metro Rail, Sydney

Photographer: Justin Sanson
Sydney Metro Rail, Sydney
Submitted by: Angela Ricardo, CPB Contractors
In this photo chosen for ENR's Feb. 19 gatefold print cover, Sanson was intrigued by this crew’s effort to guide the shield of a 1,300-tonne tunnel-boring machine being assembled to bore one line of the Australia transit megaproject that is set to link downtown Sydney for the first time to western suburbs and to an international airport under construction. With the shield’s weight and the tight space it needed to fit into, “I knew if I could keep following the workers I could get a shot where they were together as a team,” says the photographer, who also had to maneuver in a very limited area under time pressure. “Thankfully, I was able to find the moment.” he says. Sanson's photo is one of several submitted by his studio, Rusty Goat Media, which were selected as winners this year. Cath Bowen, studio managing director and principal photographer, says Rusty Goat specializes in construction photography and has been shooting sector projects for ten years. It now is handling progress photos for all worksites of Sydney Metro, the country's largest ever public works project, including tunnel boring machine launches and breakthroughs, she adds. The project is set to deliver 110  kilometers of new rail and 46 stations by its estimated completion after 2030. "It is a privilege to be part of a project that will leave a legacy for generations of Sydney-siders and visitors to come,"  Bowen says. "Our role is to tell a story in pictures about projects that will forever change a city." 

Being a past winner of the photo contest, Chandrawinata says he was “intrigued to now serve as a judge, relishing the unforgettable and fun experience of evaluating submissions and meeting with the judging team and ENR editors at the iconic Empire State Building.”

Fuchs drew parallels to the work her Washington, D.C.-based museum does to inspire children and adults alike to have curiosity about the world we design and build. “The experience was a visual celebration of the wonder of work and the beauty of innovation—bringing these two pillars of the National Building Museum to life,” she says.

Post was one of the original judges when the contest started in the early 2000s. “I’m still in awe of the quality of the photos, especially the framing, the composition, the static rhythm (almost musical), the lighting and the ‘oh wow!’ reaction on first viewing, compared to my impressions of photos way back when.”

Onshore Wind Energy Project

Photographer and Submitter: Dennis Lee
Onshore Wind Energy Project, Broome County, N.Y.
Under evening work lights, a worker was connecting a lifting cleat on the iron deck of a wind turbine tower when photographer Lee captured this image at a project  that contractor TWG is constructing in Broome County, in the foothills of the Catskills Mountains in upstate New York. The lights “were throwing this golden light onto one of the tower platforms while it was being prepped for the lift,” says Lee. “The color looked great and when I saw the double shadow, I loved it.” The firm is managing EPC work on the civil and electrical portions of the project.

ENR Construction Cost Data Dashboard

Post also marvels at the development of photo equipment, which this year includes iPhones, Androids, drones and even jobsite cameras, allowing so much more freedom of movement to capture the action.

“I’m amazed at how many fabulous photos there are from members of the construction team: the people who actually have boots on the ground and are doing the work,” she says. In the photo Post wrote the caption for on pg. 51, she adds “you can literally see the photographer’s boots on the ground!”

Undisclosed Project

Photographer and Submitter: Chuck Morgan
Undisclosed Project, Va.
Dirt is not usually visually compelling until you see it from a different perspective, says photographer Morgan, who used a drone to take this photo 350 ft above dozens of piles of dirt in various hues: red, orange, tan, black and gray. “It just looked pretty,” says the content producer for Phillips Infrastructure about the image that offers a bird’s-eye view of the piles. It shows that even dirt can be beautiful, adds Morgan, who has a copy of the photo hanging in his home.  

Hilling says that with a new group of judges every year, “it’s interesting to see similarities in some photos with past selections. But there are also images with subjects or a certain execution that we’ve never seen before, and that’s what makes this contest so exciting.”

The gatefold cover in the ENR Feb. 19 print issue was chosen from six finalists by nearly 5,000 viewers who participated in an online poll.