Expert advice from a winner of the Nikon photo competition

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25 January 2021

The Nikon Photo Competition has been around since 1969 and there is still time to enter the Next Generation category for photographers under 25, as well as the Open Category of the Short Film Competition and the Short Film Competition category. Next Generation. We caught up with former Next Generation Award Single Photo Gold Prize winner Sara De Antonio Feu (below) to learn more about her work and get tips for entering photography competitions in general.

Why did you decide to enter the last Nikon Photo Contest – had you entered a big contest before?
I have participated in photo contests since I was 14 and started with digital photography. Getting in was a challenge; I liked seeing the subjects and then thinking about what photos I could take or revisiting my archives for images that fit the particular theme.

This year, I am participating in the Nikon photo competition again, with an image close to my heart. I encourage everyone to participate because you never know who will be looking at your photo and what feelings you will awaken in them.

I am very happy to have had the opportunity to meet the Nikon family and the photographers I met in Tokyo at the awards ceremony. I have a common project with Sara Crochet, winner of the Short Film Award Gold Prize, and also a very good friendship with Jason Parnell-Brookes, winner of the Open Award Gold Prize.

Was it difficult to decide which images to capture?
It came to me automatically. In Spain we call it “Pálpito”, which roughly translates to “intuition” in English, and I’ve always been guided by that. Sometimes I see a word or a subject and an image instantly pops into my mind. This is exactly what happened to me with this photo and the Identity theme of the contest.

Can you tell us how you got the winning shot (above)?
I captured the photo while volunteering for an NGO called Future for Africa in northern Ghana. One afternoon we were visiting Ayimpoka and her family and she was just recovering from malaria. We were playing with them and trying to distract her a bit and that afternoon I decided to ask if I could take a picture with her sister.

Months later, I returned to Ghana and gave Ayimpoka and her family physical copies of the photo and other family photos. The only printed photos they had were from their youth, from important events like their wedding.

Months later, I couldn’t believe it when the picture won the gold prize and then the grand prize in Tokyo. I don’t think Ayimpoka is aware of the impact her story and image has had. With the award, we are working with the NGO to help their family make the most of their skills by creating Ghanaian baskets and empowering them to start a local business. We really hope this will help them live a more independent lifestyle.

What advice would you give to others who are considering entering such a contest and what do you think the Nikon Photo Contest attracts to photographers?
Keep going and don’t be put off by rejection. In Spain, it is often said that everything in life depends on the “watching eye”. And it depends on the background of the judge and also their mental state at the time.

So if you think you have the photo that really fits the topic of the contest and you are confident in your photo, then submit it! You never know how someone who judges your image will react and, above all, if you don’t try, you will never win!

What projects are you currently working on?
I am in a hectic and very creative time in my life. During the pandemic, I started a documentary project about the clinic and the emergency department where I work in Madrid. Some of these images have already been exhibited across the city, notably with Photoespaña and at the Madrid History Museum. I also participated in an exhibition and a photo book at the PhotoArt Festival in Torrelavega.

In May, I started a project called FACES with another photographer and emergency doctor called Dr. Graciela Marabé Carretero. We are preparing a photo album of portraits of our emergency department along with their personal stories.

In addition to all this, I am also working on two mixed photodocumentary and creative projects. One is called WONDERLAND, an infrared project about street artists working on weekends in Retiro Park, Madrid. I also work in a long term nude project, but it’s a much more personal project.



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