AI Assist - Efficient, secure, ready to use. Try it now.

MAXQDA Photo Contest Winners 2021 and Honorable Mentions

Photography implies that we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it. But this is the opposite of understanding, which starts from not accepting the world as it looks. All possibility of understanding is rooted in the ability to say no… Only that which narrates can make us understand.Susan Sontag, “On Photography”
“Nowadays, people are often busy and they probably have no time to look around and see what surrounds them. With my photo I want to show people how harmoniously and surprisingly our beautiful, bewitching world was created!” Medina Karamurzina, a participant in 2019’s photo contest from Qostanai, Kazakhstan

This was the sixth year of the MAXQDA Photo Contest. We received many submissions this year- 134 in all! Subjects this year largely tended toward the rural, though urban scenes still made up a significant portion of entries. Documenting the education of children in Ghana to archival research in Estonia, we were able to follow many stories of research.

Thank you to those that participated- your photos showed us things we’d never before seen and helped us consider the ways MAXQDA is used- and what’s more, by showing us the world through your eyes, you inspire others by your example. You have our great appreciation.

Start collecting your photos for next year already- we’re looking forward to seeing more of your research. Here are the five winners of the 2021 MAXQDA Photo Contest:

Top 5 #PictureYourResearch Submissions of 2021:

“21st Century Medicine Man” by Konstantin Aal

21st Century Medicine ManEretsha, Botswana, 2018

What’s in the picture:
There had been a major poisoning campaign against lions in response to the taking of cattle. We conducted an empirical study of local people’s daily lives and technology use (technology understanding, technology and media confidence) to collaboratively develop a system that warns locals and their animals of lions so that they can be brought to safety, saving people, livestock, and lions as well.

What we like about it:
The description of the clash between human-built environment and that which exists around it. The struggle between predator and prey. Beautiful composition: the central figure of the medicine man; framed in the background, a boy in a hoodie. Coats and jackets of synthetic materials juxtaposed with skirts and headdresses. Metal instruments made out of repurposed tin cans. A fascinating scene.

You can find out more about Konstantin’s projects on Twitter or Instagram

“Sustainable Wildlife Conservation through Indigenous Partnerships” by Lian Sabella Castillo

Sustainable Wildlife Conservation through Indigenous PartnershipsDavao City, Philippines, 2021

What’s in the picture:
The photo is from a research project for conserving a bio-cultural landscape at the Mt. Apo Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) through Indigenous Knowledge and Science Integration. I worked with a wildlife non-profit to maintain the ecological integrity of the Apo KBA to benefit all organisms, while providing a steady flow of economic and socio-cultural benefits to humankind, through long-term and equitable partnerships with its Indigenous Bagobo-Manobo custodians.

Depicted: indigenous researchers we worked with surveying inhabitants around the mountainside – the Philippine Eagle’s natural habitat.

What we like about it:
It depicts a quiet and everyday moment in the life of a researcher: taking stock of the day’s notes and observations. All across the world, running through the lives of different researchers, this image is a common and unifying scene.

You can find out more about Lian’s projects on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or her website.

“Researcher Pushing a Pupil on a Swing” by Mohammed Issah

Researcher Pushing a Pupil on a SwingNanton District, Ghana, 2021

What’s in the picture:
The research is about exploring the contribution of play activities on the social development of kindergarten children in Nanton District Ghana. The researcher sought to determine whether the availability of play materials contribute to children’s social development, and how the combination of play types contribute to children’s social development. This picture was taken during data collection, in this case participant observation.

What we like about it:
Participant observation hinges on whether or not one is accepted into the group under study- and there are few ways to ingratiate oneself into a group of children quicker than offering a push on the swings. A display of mastery.

“Scanning materials about native history in the National Estonian Archive” by Ekaterina Marmilova

Scanning materials about native history in the National Estonian ArchiveTartu, Estonia, January 2021

What’s in the picture:
The National Estonian Archives is the archival management center in The Republic of Estonia. The collections of the National Archives include nearly 10 million cases (the oldest dates back to 1240), more than 20 million digital images, accounting for 2.5 of collections, 9.5 million meters videos (the oldest since 1908), more than half a million photographs (more oldest from the 19th century), about 150,000 maps (the oldest from the first half of the 17 century, no date), in fact, 2200 seals and about 1500 parchments. We decided to refer to the materials and documents of the archive to find cases and materials concerning the history of the Astrakhan region. We found 23 mentions of Astrakhan in the search engine of the National Estonian Archive, of which 8 cases are of scientific interest.

What we like about it:
It is easy to forget for those of us who have habituated ourselves to screens and keyboards that sometimes research involves rolling up one’s sleeves and delving into real, physical media not yet subsumed into the digital world. There is a wealth of information which exists- and which might not be found by means of a search engine. Of course, it couldn’t hurt to have MAXQDA to help one organize these informational treasures when you do find them- even if we could find a pinboard large enough to fit hundreds of years of information.

You can find out more about Ekaterina’s project at

“A place on the menu” by Annica Långvall

A place on the menuHöga Kusten, Sweden, 2020

What’s in the picture:
This dish was served at a restaurant I visited during my fieldwork for my doctoral thesis, in which I explore how gourmet restaurants use local foods, and the menu’s relation to place. The restaurant is located on an island in an area of the High Coast world heritage area, where the fairly uncommon rock type Rapakivi granite, characterized by its red color, well up through the ocean surface, creating magnificent red shores of steep rock walls and cliffs softened to satin by the waves. In an interview, the head chef at the restaurant had described the island as covering all different types of climate zones. Seeing this dish presented on the counter, I could not interpret it any other way than as a simulacrum of the island’s red cliffs rising from the sea, with its mushroom-rich forests and green grounds. Truly, a place on the menu.

What we like about it:
Perhaps you’re thinking- it’s a pretty picture of food. But humor us for a moment- how often is it that you see a photographed dish include a qualitative research study, reflect its origin in color, shape, and composition, plus incorporate a pun? The answer you’re looking for: not very often.

You can find out more about Annica’s projects at,, or on Instagram: @dietistannica.

Honorable Mentions 2021:

In addition to the top 5 winners, the MAXQDA Photo Contest 2021 Selection Committee has chosen to honor an additional 7 photographers for their excellent #PictureYourResearch submissions. Together, the 12 pictures will be printed in the 2022 MAXQDA calendar, which each of the 12 participants will receive soon.

“Drying Yarn” by Debarati Saha

Drying Yarn

This photo depicts a man drying yarn after dying. After this process, the finished yarn will go to a mill where sari will be produced, either woven by machine or by hand. This photo was taken within a project on sari makers and sari production.

“Making soy sauce” by Huy Nguyen Quoc

Making soy sauce

This photo depicts soy sauce production in the village of Ban Yen Nhan in Vietnam. Soybeans like this can be preserved for 2 to 3 years if the process is done properly.

“The chief of the village” by Sibylle Newman

The chief of the village

Sibylle’s research focuses on the cultural, historical, and material elements guiding children’s socialization practices in the Ghanian classroom. Find out more about Sibylle’s projects at ResearchGate.

“Love for Study” by Sujit Saha

Love for Study

This photo depicts children reading their books protected by a mosquito net. Mosquito-borne disease is very prevalent in the rural areas of Bengal.

“Introducing an interviewee to photovoice” by Anna Lena Bercht

Introducing an interviewee to photovoice

This photo depicts depicts my research assistant introducing an interviewee to the empowering method of photovoice. Later, the photos were interpreted through in-depth interviews and narratives were developed that explained the subject and meaning of each photo. Find out more about Anna Lena’s projects on ResearchGate:

“Searching for Drinking Water” by Atanu Das

Searching for Drinking Water

This photo depicts a little girl from the village of Canning in West Bengal collecting river water to filter for drinking. Although there are wells in the villages, most of the water is useless due to salt and silt.

“Political Meeting” by Hector Tejera

Political Meeting

This photo depicts political supporters of a candidate in the Mexican elections of June 2021. Hector uses MAXQDA for semiotic analysis of election campaign photographs.

There’s More!

This year, just as in 2020, every #MAXQDAPhotoContest participant was entered into a raffle to win a 1-year MAXQDA Analytics Pro license.
We are happy to announce that the raffle winner is Ekaterina Semykina. Congratulations Ekaterina- we wish you all the best on your research journey with MAXQDA!

Like to see some of the other submissions? You can find them on our MAXQDA social media, (@VerbiSoftware @MAXQDA) and search for submissions using the hashtags #PictureYourResearch and #MAXQDAPhotoContest. The previous years’ winners can be seen on the MAXQDA Research Blog:

If your picture is displayed above and you have not received an email notifying you of your selection, please check your inbox and let us know at If you didn’t find your picture above, please do not be discouraged. We greatly appreciate your participation and hope that you will submit another entry next year.

MAXQDA Newsletter

Our research and analysis tips, straight to your inbox.