A 19 year old amateur photographer from Iasi, Romania has been awarded the Youth Photographer of the Year title at the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.
This is one of the most prestigious awards programmes in the photographic industry.
Alecsandra Dragoi’s winning image beat over 5,000 entries in a competition that sought to find the world’s single best image taken by a photographer under the age of 20.
Dragoi, who is currently studying photography at Portsmouth University in the United Kingdom, was brought to London by the World Photography Organisation and presented with her award and a Sony α77 camera at a gala ceremony attended by the elite of the photography industry.
The winning image, titled “Tradition”, was taken in December 2012 at a festival held in Botosani, a city north of Moldavia. The most colourful New Year’s Eve traditions are the mask-dances, magical ceremonials of death and rebirth, with a variety of representations, such as the bear as seen in the image. ‘Dance of the bear’ is one of the most spectacular mask-dances, an iconic animal for the forests of Romania.
In the past, a real bear was also included in the dance. The tradition is mostly kept in Bucovina and Moldova. The tradition aims to purify and fertilize the soil for the next year. The bear skins which are used in the festival are preserved for hundreds of years and are used only for the New Year’s traditions rather than being killed specifically for the festival.
Talking about her success Dragoi said: “I was in shock when I heard the news and I still have the same feeling. It is a great achievement.” She said it was “definitely the most powerful thing” that ever happened to her since she started taking pictures. “I feel that my hard work has finally been rewarded and I thank you for this. Definitely, this prize is a new step in my evolution.”
Dragoi’s winning image will be shown as part of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at the famous Somerset House, London from 26th April to 12th May. It will also be published in the 2013 edition of the annual Sony World Photography Awards book.
To see all winning images from the awards please go to www.worldphoto.org.