What now? is the theme for this month’s photo competition:
We are constantly bombarded with fairly awful news from around the world. Things feel less certain for a lot of people than they did even 3 or 5 or 10 years ago. So what are you going to do about it? What now? What now for you as an individual? What now for your family or community? What now for your place of birth or the place you call home? Can you find a way to use photography to share a complicated emotion? To convey uncertainty (or certainty)? How do you want to be remembered in this time and place? Or what do you want to remember? What makes now, now?
VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE PICTURE BELOW.
TQU’s photo competition: Every month a different topic, chosen by a different judge. What Now? is the topic of May’s photo competition, chosen by Alexa Vachon.
MAY 2018 ◼︎◼︎◼︎ What now? ◼︎◼︎◼︎ Alexa Vachon
Alexa Vachon is a Canadian born, New York educated, Berlin based photographer and photojournalist who works on assignment for various international publications and on long-term projects focusing on gender identity, women’s rights and human rights. Much of Vachon’s work explores contemporary queer culture and identity, including projects about queer pornography and queer identity in Berlin. Her current work includes a long-term project with and about a football team for young refugee women in Germany, where she steps away from queer culture and focuses on identity and belonging in the refugee community. The project, Rise, will be released as a self-published book in October 2018. Vachon has received numerous grants for her work, exhibits her images often and works for various international magazines and newspapers.
In 2016, Vachon published her first book called what we do in the light, an exploration of feminist pornography. In 2017 she published Shaking the Habitual – The Show, documenting life on tour with The Knife on their last European tour in 2014.
TQU: You were born in Canada, studied in New York and later in Berlin and have been taking pictures in many different places around the world. How do you think the experiences in these different places reflect in your work?
Read full interview with Alexa Vachon.
You can click on the images to read more about them.
Em Flem, 26, UK/Canada: I took this image whilst I was travelling in the USA and trying to figure myself out. The photograph reflects my thoughts on my own gender fluidity, specifically, the question of what happens when I stop performing as a ‘woman’ and become my true self? The split image of my perceived femininity and the unknown.
Aabbchot, Australia I have thought about changing my hair colour many times. It would change the way i see myself and think about me. It would change peoples reaction to me also. So far i have tried black. I really want to be blond. It is a surface way of changing how i feel about me. Perhaps i will go further and consider more substantial changes of a physical nature? I am thinking further about these possibilities.
Dave Abramov, Israel:
Gina Acuña, USA: This photo is a selfie; my hand covering my face. Feeling very saddened and ashamed of the (U.S.) President Trump and the horrible actions he is taken(ing) leading to the rapid detriment to our democracy and people. It is an image of my despair.
Cassidy, 22, USA: “What now?” some demanded of us when marriage equality was legalized in the US, not understanding it was the only beginning. It’s a question raised, too, when we’re faced with a variety of discrimination. There’s solace in the vehicles of the people who love you, though. To know you’re loved and accepted while your queer friends hear you out and support you is kindness, validation, and love that I hope all members of the queer community can find.
Pallavi Gaur, 22, India: There is always a moody child in a carnival. One such I was made to meet by her father. I was a little surprised because I have started to think that the camera has lost its ability to cheer up someone since everyone is taking photos all the time. ‘Give her a smile for a photo’ said the father. Clearly she faked it.
Deni Kireva, 22, Bulgaria: What Now? Why are we building when we have to destroy, our future in between four walls, the nature buried under the buildings, the monuments, the stones and the metal. The air dirtier and dirtier. To grow a tree we need years to cut it minutes. We are building something we will destroy and we are destroying something we cannot build. The only thing we need is our nature.
Tea Erdélyi, Hungary: Cruising at the Danube side in Budapest.
Woladieboho, 30, New Zealand: Vacant and unsure
Ricky Allen, 20, USA: My best friend Arbonita is from Kosovo, a country with a rich and fascinating history. Raised by a conservative Muslim family, seeing her dye her hair for the first time in the United States in my bedroom felt like witnessing the beginning of an incredible act of rebellion.
Bruce Eyster, USA: This is a candid shot taken on a rooftop on the Lower East side while the model was between poses. I feel it captures a preapocalyptic mood as the model appears to be in prayer or perhaps saddened with the iconic Twin Towers in the background.
Dr. Sneha Rooh, 30, India: Children at the burning ghats of Benaras, imitating the adults in burning corpses or having a personal space to just think and reflect to escape being shooed away?
Ann Antidote, 45, Portugal: Graffitti “I only see the money in your eyes”: Gentrification at Yorckstr / Berlin. Amateur photo, taken with my smart phone.
Seth Jordan, 21, Zimbabwe: In the Zimbabwe of Robert Mugabe, queer people were seen as less than animals and therefore deserving of no human rights. This image represents the nature of queerness in the fact that it occurs at any point in time in spaces that it is considered least likely to occur. Out of the ground we grew, queer roots in African soil.
Finn Buchwald, 33, Germany: nature is our roots, from where we came – that’s where i go, where i escape, where i can breathe, and feel safe, my colorful, harmonious landscape, after all the bullshit we have to face, in every situation, place and shape, the woods are my shelter, my safe-space.
Tam, 33, UK: For me this photo represents every emotion that can be described. Just like the driftwood everything is constantly in a state of flux. We can be left weathered and scarred by the things that happen but that isn’t our ending. We change. Over time. Instead it can be a new beginning.
Shiru Kamande, 23, Kenya: My girlfriend and I taking a selfie for the very first time. I have never felt soo much in love before like this very moment.
Alann, 59, Belgium It speaks of hate crimes, or what they call hate crimes now. In this case, the fictional murder of a member of the LGBTQ community. In a series of selfies, I try to show my lifelong anxiety, fear, angst, and recurrent nightmares since I was 17. The bullying for being different even before you realised that people saw you as different. The bullying that led to suicide attempts, and for others into succeeding in taking their own lives, or rejected by parents. All this might even be compounded by the fact that you already become a-social once you are gay on the autistic spectrum and an artist. These features are and have caused me to make the art that I make. An eclectic art, no concern for style and use the material I have to get the message across. Film, phone camera, traditional tools like brush and pencil on paper or canvas, it is catharsis, performance…Without art, I would not have been here anymore.
Dailyperiod, Italy: Now we need to remember, now we need to meditate, now we need to pretend more, now we need to be resilient. Now we must act!
Carolyn’s Fingers, UK: Now is music that has no genre, gender nor structure, no nationality, no language, it just flows – like our identities and our minds.
Néstor Granda, 52, Argentina: #NiUnaMenos es un movimiento feminista que surgió en Argentina a raíz de la creciente cantidad de casos de violencia de género. La fotografía fue tomada durante una de las manifestaciones en Buenos Aires. ¡Vivas y libres las queremos!
Yon, 34, Malaysia: My girlfriend, who is 12 years younger than me, physically discovered 90’s porn magazine for the first time. What now?
Seema Butt and artist Albany, UK: My name is Seemaa Butt. I am Trans and a Drag Queen. I live in Birmingham in England. What Now! This month May 2018 I was chosen to be part of the Portraits of Pride Campaign. I was so proud to be part of this amazing project. The first teaser of the campaign came out just a week before Birmingham Pride and some people posted some really horrible comments but it was nice to see that every negative comment is overpowered by so many positive comments. I know initiatives like this are really uplifting for those needing a bit of support. I hope more organizations follow HSBC’s lead. This photo is of me and the artist Albani with the portrait she painted of me behind us. it’s a selfie we look at the filming of the campaign.
Thank you all so much for sharing your ideas about WHAT NOW?
Jury Prize – The JUDGE Will select a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize. on top of a physical prize The first winner will also receive a personal message from the judge.
Audience Prize – The audience will get to vote for all submitted pictures and decide who is going to win the audience prize.
From our judge Alexa:
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this photo call! I know very well how hard it can be to put your work and yourself out there. I was really excited to see work from around the world and I encourage all of you to keep making photos. A theme like, “What Now?” is tricky. There isn’t any kind of “right” answer and I was delighted by the variety of images. Keep making photos, keep sharing, keep looking and keep listening.
#1 Jury Prize
This image is a great example of complex ideas captured in a relatively “simple” photograph. The photograph itself isn’t a spectacular moment in time but the thoughtfulness of the delicate image within the image and the trace of the artist’s hand and the detailed embroidery draw in the viewer’s interest. Most traces of identify and gender are gone but we’re left with a gentle yet complex image that demands our attention.
#2 Jury Prize
This is a striking image that becomes even more interesting with the caption. The image itself shows intimacy and thoughtfulness and a shared moment between friends. It has a strong composition and plays with depth, layers, mirrors and reflections, all things fundamental to an understanding of photographing. The story behind the image lets us into an incredibly personal and monumental moment in a young woman’s life. There are bigger questions about religion in the USA, particularly the representation of Islam, but also the personal quest of a woman thousands of miles away from “home.”
#3 Jury Prize
This image and description give me more questions than answers. I can see scissors and glasses and rolling papers and Hustler and framed photographs and living plants. I also see a young woman looking at magazines loaded with history. What does the young woman see in the magazines that have long since been replaced by online content? Is she turned on? Comparing herself? Fantasizing? The casualness of the photograph and the woman illustrate the kind of fleeting scene that often passes us by but by capturing the moment in time, it brings significance to our personal histories.
SETH JORDAN: This is an absolutely wonderful portrait – the person being photographed, their intensity, the setting, the composition. It’s well thought out, well executed and important. Great work!
EM FLEM: I was immediately drawn to the colour and abstractness of this image. In the days of countless filters and instant manipulation, I think a lot about what it means to use older photo techniques or mimic them digitally. Ultimately, in this photo, it doesn’t matter to me if the image was made via light leaks on analog film, or by sitting in front of a computer with an endless number of options. One version leaves much up to instinct and chance, the other to the slow process of figuring out how to convey one’s intentions.
CASSIDY: There’s a deep fascination with the open road in the USA – portrayals in classic films, contemporary photo essays – and much of the USA is built for cars, not pedestrians. It’s one of the few places where young people spend hours and hours behind the wheel and in young adulthood, it can be a place of refuge of freedom. This image captures the mystery of the open road and is mostly anonymous except for small details like a dangling cross and a small toy. We know the car is filled with people and we wonder about their relationship and where they’re going and where they’re coming from.
SHIRU KAMANDE: This photo has so much joy and is one that sticks in my mind after stepping away from the computer. It captures hope and the definitive moment of “now” while making me imagine a future of possibilities. Thanks for sharing this intimate moment and bringing a smile to my face!
We have a tie! The two audience prize winners are: Néstor Granda and Gina Acuña! For all the lovely comments – as always- click on the image in the gallery above!
Congratulations to all winners
And a very big thank you to everyone who participated! All submissions were really amazing!
ALL winners will receive a gift package from the TQU shop. To find out more about TQU’s photo competitions click here.