This year’s winners vary greatly in both style and substance: from stark portraiture, to dreamy landscapes, to an ecologically-minded photo project that sheds light on the problem plastic pollution.
The overall winner and 2018 Photographer of the Year accolade goes to British photographer Alys Tomlinson, whose project Ex-Voto:
The winning work encompasses formal portraiture, large format landscape and small, detailed still life images of the ‘ex- votos’ (offerings of religious devotion) found at pilgrimage sites of Lourdes (France), Ballyvourney (Ireland) and Grabarka (Poland).
Tomlinson’s project was selected as the best from the 10 Professional category winners, where she also took home top prize in the Discovery category. The title comes with $25,000 worth of prize money.
Open Photographer of the Year was awarded to IT specialist and self-taught photographer Vaselin Atanasov for his photograph Early Autumn; Youth Photographer of the Year was earned by 16-year-old Megan Johnson for her image Still; and Student Photographer of the Year went to Canadian student Samuel Bolduc for his series The Burden, shot on behalf of College de Matane, Quebec.
Photographer of the Year and 1st Place, Discovery
Image Description: Untitled from the series ‘Ex-Voto’
A handwritten note neatly folded and hidden in the crevice of a rock, crosses etched onto stone, ribbon carefully wrapped around piles of twigs. These are all offerings of religious devotion, known as ‘Ex-Votos’ and found at Christian pilgrimage sites worldwide. Often placed anonymously and hidden from view, pilgrims leave ex-votos as expressions of hope and gratitude, creating a tangible narrative between faith, person and the landscape.
Open Photographer of the Year
Image Description: The autumn has begun to decorate with its colors the woods of the Balkans. National Park – Central Balkan, Bulgaria.
Youth Photographer of the Year
Image Description: This image was shot on October 22, 2017 on the cliffs right near my house. It was taken on an iPhone 7 for the following: life, to me, has more detail in black and white.
The image represents my current state at home and school. Despite having a social group and a caring family, I often find myself alone, left to watch what goes on around me, all the while being caught up in the very center of it. This glimpse through the trees of the figure on the cliff represents the courage it takes to be one’s self in today’s society, and how even when you’re on the inside, you can be pushed out.
Student Photographer of the Year
Series Description: My photographic series for this second brief are staged poetic photographs illustrating people bearing the burden of plastic wastes in the environment. With these images, I want to show the actions we have to take regardless if pollution continues at this speed or not. Through commitment of my characters, I also want to evoke the hope of changes about the accumulation of plastic wastes in the environment. The vast winterly territories reveal the contrast between their magnitude and the small place humankind has.
1st Place, Architecture
Image Description: November 2017. Vienna, Austria. Because the building had the right criteria to be photographed for my project “Buildings”. Shot on tripod.
1st Place, Contemporary Issues
Image Description: Lavenda and Wendy are rushing into the classroom where the ballet is held after changing clothes around the corner of the house
1st Place, Creative
Series Description: In the snowy landscapes of the heights of Fukushima, I have captured the invisible pain of radiation. Inspired by the drawings of Japanese engravings, I hoped to capture the fleeting moments, the ever-shifting perceptions of nature, where radiation accumulates the most.
1st Place, Current Affairs & News
Image Description: Bangladesh military control the situation, as Rohingya refugees wait to receive food aid at the distribution point in Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh on September 28, 2017.
1st Place, Landscape
Image Description: A view of Torano’s “marble valley” in the Apuan Alps, one of Italy’s most marble-rich area, where the abundance is surreal. What we admire as pristine white stone was born hundreds of millions of years ago in overwhelming darkness. Countless generations of tiny creatures lived, died and drifted slowly to the bottom of a primordial sea, where their bodies were slowly compressed by gravity, layer upon layer, until eventually they all congealed and petrified into the interlocking white crystals we know as marble.
1st Place, Natural World & Wildlife
Image Description: Luigi a young Sicilian. The economic crisis, high unemployment rate is re-directing young Sicilians from small rural communities back to their lands and working in agriculture. Luigi helps his father cultivate small fields and take care of their farm animals.
There isn’t a day in which he doesn’t dirty his hands to try to save some money to assist his young fiance’, a Romanian national that he met while working in the fields and can now pay for her trip back to Sicily and start a new life together.
1st Place, Portraiture
Image Description: Colin Anthony, singer, in the back bar From the series ‘The Last of The Crooners’.
1st Place, Sport
Image Description: Horsemen fight for a headless calf carcass during a buzkashi match on the day of Nawroz, or Persian New Year, in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan on March 21, 2017.
1st Place, Still Life
Image Description: Letter of departure written on an academic notebook.