2018-2019 Winners’ interview
Sara De Antonio Feu
Next Generation Award single photo Gold Prize
ー What made you decide to apply to Nikon Photo Contest? Do you have any stories and struggles leading up to the application process?
For many years, I have been stimulated by photo contests. I believe that entering a photo contest requires a great exercise in reflection that leads photographers to explore and rediscover previous projects. This exercise helps in the selection of works that fit the specific theme of a particular contest. The Nikon Photo Contest caught my attention from the very beginning because it is an international competition with so many years of tradition. The winners over the years have been very powerful images. In addition, entering is easy with a simple online procedure, and winners are selected by a jury of experts with a professional background in the fields of photography and arts.
ー Do you have any episode when taking the award-winning photo/film?
I took the award-winning photo while volunteering at the village’s regional hospital. I often spent my afternoons exploring projects the NGO was working on. One afternoon, we went to visit Ayimpoka and her family. She wasn’t feeling well because she was recovering from a bout of malaria, so we just wanted to provide her with some company. There was a beautiful sunset. Suddenly, a woman appeared carrying a big recipient on her head. The light was perfect, so I ran to ask her if I could take her picture. The children had also run with me. It was a few minutes later that I saw Ayimpoka and her sister embracing each other and I captured the moment.
ー What specific changes have occurred to you, and have there been any changes in your career or in the way people evaluate you after you won the award?
My family and friends were so proud after I won the award (laughs). The biggest changes, however, were more internal. I think winning this award empowered me. It made me feel more aware that I can make others feel with my pictures, and that my stories have some impact. It also gave me the opportunity to participate in a very powerful photojournalism workshop with an international agency that I really admire, which made me love this discipline even more. Finally, winning this award made me consider the need to receive formal training in photography and especially in its technical aspects. As a result, I decided to sign up for a professional course that I have been taking since March.
ー What kind of activities have you been doing recently?
I recently started a project documenting the COVID-19 pandemic in the city and also in my workplace. I can't say a lot but I've been portraying my work colleagues wearing protective equipment and talking about their various personal views and memories of the most difficult times during the pandemic. This project is currently on hold. It has been almost two months since I stopped working on it because it has proven to be quite painful. However, I hope that with a little time, I will recover from the stress and continue with it. I had a lot of ideas for this year. I had planned to develop my main project in a community in Kenya, but a week before I was to leave, the COVID-19 lockdown was put into effect and my flights were cancelled. I really hope I will be able to go on with the project in the future.
ー Do you have advice for your followers who may be considering participation in future Nikon Photo Contest?
First of all, I would encourage everyone to participate in the Nikon Photo Contest! Next, I would advise them to focus on a topic and strive to find a powerful story that reflects that topic in a unique way. In short, look for a powerful story and a beautiful composition and trust in your image! If the story is important to you, trust the image to tell it. Don’t let others influence your decision. Trust your eye!
ー What does “taking photos/films” mean to you?
When I take pictures, time doesn't exist. I am totally absorbed and might spend hours and hours without noticing the passage of time. Photography is a cure for people like me who have a bad memory. With photography there is no forgetting. We have the pictures to remind us of important moments in our lives, and people that are gone that we would like to see again. Some stories are better told through pictures. Sometimes photographs are the only thing we have left of something or someone, and the ability to make those photographs yourself is fascinating. It is true that nowadays photography is within everyone's reach but the important thing is to be able to capture precious moments with your own eyes and express them with your own perspective.