Following the success of the inaugural Children’s Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest last summer, the first International Youth Photography Festival & Exhibition, took place in Baku, Azerbaijan from 12th – 14th May 2103.
This exciting event, aimed to raise awareness of environmental issues through the eyes of young people and their photographs, was a chance to view the best 100 images from the Contest.
The Children’s Eyes on Earth global initiative was organized by Mrs. Leyla Aliyeva, Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the founder of the non-governmental organisation IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) and REZA, renowned photographer and founder of the non-governmental organisation AINA World.
With the themes “I Love Nature” and “I Fear Pollution”, the Contest drew thousands of entries from young people in over 90 countries around the world. This Contest was the first step for Reza’s global project in bringing awareness to children, concerning the planet’s social and environmental issues, while using the language of images. Reza wishes to now accompany, train and expose the young talented photographers of the contest through a festival.
The Festival & Exhibition gave the talented Contest winners the unique opportunity to develop their photography skills through a series of events and workshops in Baku. As a vibrant celebration of photography and the environment, Festival highlights included outdoor exhibition, film screenings, seminars and an opening-night Awards Ceremony. It was noteworthy that the capital of Azerbaijan celebrating the 90th anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev and the traditional Flowers Holiday was a perfect venue for young talents to fix all the beauty of the ancient culture, exquisite architecture and memorable festivities to be held in the city.
Eight-year-old Anastasya Vorobko from Saint Petersburg in Russia was the winner of the Children’s Eyes On Earth Contest, with her image SOS! Showing an artistic maturity beyond her years, the photograph depicts a bird flying over the thick smog being emitted from a factory funnel and conveys her fear of the pollution which affects her local environment.
The full list of 2012 winners is:
• First prize: SOS! By Anastasya Vorobko, 8 years old from Russia
• Second prize: Emergency Exit by Juan Carlos Canales, 14 years old from Spain
• Third prize (joint): Fields of Green by Bianca Stan, 14 years old from Romania and Morning at Situ Gunung by Michael Theodric, 10 years old from Indonesia
• Special prize: In The Wind by Sophie Vela, 14 years old from France
• Your Choice Public Vote prize: The Last Breath by Kseniya Saberzhanova, 17 years old from Russia
The best 100 images and the six winning images were selected by an international jury, led by acclaimed photographer REZA and including Ayperi Ecer, Reuters Vice President of Picture Development; Alain Genestar, founder of Polka magazine; Chris Rainier, National Geographic photographer; Françoise Lemarchand, founder of Canopée, Nature & Découvertes magazine; Frédéric Chevance, Managing Director of Fox International, France; Sylvie Brieu, Senior Editor of National Geographic, France; Marco Pinna, journalist; Franck Meo, founder of PhotoCloser.com; Shahidul Alam, photographer and Santiago Lyon, Vice President of Associated Press. The judges selected the first, second and third-place winners and the special prize winner, whilst the public vote results determined the winner of the ‘Your Choice’ Public Vote Prize.
Although the entrants were all aged 17 and under, their understanding of the dangers facing our environment is apparent. Second-prize winner Juan Carlos Canales (Spain) commented that he worried about such issues as oil spills threatening our coastlines and pollution being emitted by factories, while third prize winners Bianca Stan (Romania) and Michael Theodric (Indonesia) stated we should cherish our environment as it is our future. Special prize winner Sophie Vela said that the environment is one of the most important things on Earth and public vote winner Kseniya Saberzhanova (Russia) hopes the images in the contest would encourage people to think more carefully about how they treat the environment.
In its inaugural year, The Children’s Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest received over 4,000 image submissions of an incredibly high standard, as demonstrated by the 100 best images which will be on display at the Festival & Exhibition. The six Contest winners were awarded trophies at the Festival & Exhibition Awards Ceremony and participated in photography workshops with Reza. They also received prizes of camera equipment.
Festival & Exhibition website: www.childrenseyesonearth.org