Teen photographer finds the unguarded moment

What does the 14-year-old winner of this year's Sony World Photography Awards share with Steve McCurry?
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Mellow Memories, by Stephanie Anjo, 14, Winner, Portrait, Youth Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards
Mellow Memories, by Stephanie Anjo, 14, Winner, Portrait, Youth Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards

In 2006 Phaidon published a book by the great American photographer Steve McCurry, entitled The Unguarded Moment. The title brought together three decades worth of shots taken around the world, from Cambodia to Yemen, all focusing on people who, in the moment McCurry pressed his shutter button, were unposed, and so revealed hidden depths in the resulting photographs. 

Stephanie Anjo, a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Guildford, Surrey, southeast of England, wasn't yet born when many of those images were taken. Yet (without comparing her to McCurry) she started out from a similar conceptual standpoint when she took what turned out to be the top prize-taking phtograph in the portraits category in the Youth section of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards.

Stephanie is the youngest winner in this, the world’s biggest photography competition yet her winning picture of her young cousin, taken, as she describes it, “in her happiest state”, in Stephanie's grandmother's garden in Portugal, displays a level of aesthetic maturity beyond her years. We wanted to find out a bit more about this potential future star of the photography world.  

How did you get into photography? When I was younger I used to make short videos on those little play cameras, and I used toys to make films. I got my first 'real' camera around three years ago, as I knew I would take photography as a subject for GCSE (the exams British children take at the age of 16). I learnt mostly from experimenting with the different dials, and also watching YouTube videos, which helped with editing in Photoshop too.

What kind of photos are you drawn to taking? It depends where I am, but I like to take photos of anything which interests me at the time or I think would be useful. I really like street and documentary style photography, as it is very thought provoking. I think I prefer taking photographs when people aren't aware as they turn out more natural, as opposed to planned shoots.

What are you currently working on? At the moment I'm just trying to do the best I can in photography and art at school so I can decide what I want to do in the future.

For more on the awards go here; for more on McCurry's Unguarded Moment buy the book here; and for a greater appreciation of photography buy a copy of The Photography Book, here.


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