The winners of the Down’s Syndrome Association’s (DSA) international photographic competition have been announced, with successful entries coming from Ireland, Canada and the USA. Now in its 10th year, the ‘My Perspective’ competition gives photographers who have the genetic condition the chance to share their view of the world.
The Peoples’ Choice Award was voted for by the public online. They chose Conor O’Dowd’s portrait entitled ‘My friend Jason the model’ as their favourite (above). Conor, who is from Drogheda in County Louth, Ireland, said: “I am surprised to win. It’s great. It makes my parents proud. I can’t wait to tell my best friend Jason the great news. I love the My Perspective competition. I was nominated before and it’s great to win. During lockdown I was out and about taking pictures.”
Natalie Stevanus from Bloomingdale in Canada won the Judges’ Choice Award for her moving image entitled ‘Companionship’ (above). Although Natalie has reached the finals of the competition three times already, this is the first time she has got the top prize. She said: “I am very excited and happy to be the winner. I was hopeful that I would be a winner of one of the awards, but surprised when I checked my emails and read the announcement.
This year the judges panel included actors Peter Davison (Doctor Who, All Creatures Great and Small) and Emma Barton (Eastenders), who are both patrons of the DSA, along with Dianne Buswell, one of Strictly Come Dancing’s professional dancers.
Each year, a special award is presented to a photographer who doesn’t live in the UK. It’s called The Stephen Thomas Award, and was established in memory of Stephen, a previous ‘My Perspective’ winner who sadly died with his father in a tragic boating accident in 2015. This year, Houston Vandergriff from Knoxville, Tennessee, was been named the winner. Entitled ‘Travelling Thru’, Houston said: “I was at the train station early in the morning. We were going from Aix-en-Provence to Monaco. The sun was coming up. The reflection made it look like two sunrises.”
Congratulations to everyone shortlisted. As the organisers note, the current Covid-19 situation is challenging for everyone, but even more so for people who have Down’s Syndrome. “The usual rhythm of life has been disrupted without warning, leaving feelings of isolation, anxiety and frustration. Many have additional health conditions affecting respiratory and cardiac health. It can be hard to understand social-distancing and many have difficulty communicating how they are feeling if they become unwell, mentally and physically. It is hoped that this year’s ‘My Perspective’ competition has given entrants something to focus on during lockdown.”
See the full list of winners here.