Spaniard Sara De Antonio Feu has been named as the 2018/19 Grand Prize winner of the prestigious Nikon Photo Contest.
The announcement was made at a special event in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday as the contest celebrated its 50th anniversary.
An esteemed panel of 12 judges from the fields of photography and film was tasked with sifting through a record 97,369 entries from some 33,000 photographers and video artists in 170 countries.
De Antonio Feu’s powerful winning photo was captured in Ghana and shows Ayimpoka, a young girl with albinism, a genetic disorder that can often lead to discrimination in the country because of the condition’s ongoing association with witchcraft.
At the awards ceremony in Tokyo’s lively Shibuya district, the photographer said she was keen to highlight the issue of color-based discrimination from a fresh angle, and in her image wanted to convey the deep level of love and care that Ayimpoka receives from her sister.
Lead judge Neville Brody, CEO of U.K.-based design agency Brody Associates, said De Antonio Feu’s picture “captures a human story so successfully and succinctly that we can all interpret and sense it directly.”
He added: “The image is framed tenderly — the camera is at the same eye level as the children, who are positioned centrally in the frame, not raised, lending them a vulnerability, innocence, and sincerity.
“This everyday story of superstition, difference, and prejudice is shocking. We understand the difference love and protection make. A worthy winner, one that reminds us of our need to engage and open our sense of humanity and optimistic empathy in such a self-centered age.”
De Antonio Feu took the photo on a Nikon D5600 DSLR with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The Grand Prize is worth 500,000 Japanese yen (about $ 4,800), which the winner says she intends to give to Ayimpoka to help pay for her education.
The Grand Prize winner was chosen from the top selections in two photo categories, as well as a short-film category, specifically:
• The Open category: single photo, photo story on the theme of “Change”
• The Next Generation category for under-25s: single photo, photo story on the theme of “Identity”
• The Short Film category on the theme of “Hope”
American interests were represented by Louisiana-based Sara Crochet, who won the Short Film award for Exulansis (below), a compelling and emotive movie made, she said, “to display a haunting memory of trauma.”
Crochet’s well-deserved win was remarkable not only for the fact that it was her first proper attempt at making a short movie but also because it was shot on a borrowed camera (a Nikon D750 DSLR) and captured in just three takes.
Crochet said she decided to enter the contest after setting herself a New Year’s Resolution to challenge herself.
“I only had the camera for a day,” Crochet told Digital Trends, “And when I got home and looked at all the footage, things weren’t really what I’d expected them to be, but as I pieced it together I realized it was exactly what I wanted it to be.” With assistance in the edit from her friend Josh LeBlanc, Sara went on to build her award-winning piece.
Nikon currently runs its photo contest once every couple of years. It is free to enter and open to everyone. Check out the contest’s website if you fancy submitting your own work next time around.