Irish Times Amateur Photographer of 2013: winners

You entered thousands of photographs. Here are the results

The winner of the Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year competition for 2013 is Susannah Benjamin, a 20-year-old Irish-American student. Benjamin’s image Vacuum Packed, of classmates wrapped in cellophane, claimed the top prize.


The winner of the Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year competition for 2013 is Susannah Benjamin, a 20-year-old Irish-American student.

Remarkably, she took most of the photographs in her winning portfolio when she was just 15 or 16. Benjamin’s image Vacuum Packed, of classmates wrapped in cellophane, captured the attention of the panel of judges and won her top prize in the Open category. As we went on to examine the portfolios of all the category winners, her work stood out as exceptional, especially her work in monochrome.

Her fascination with storytelling allows her to explore themes around adolescence, obsession, isolation and ageing. She took Vacuum Packed, for example, to illustrate bullying and isolation. She shot it at Greenwich Academy, her school in Connecticut, using classmates as models. Although she is still an amateur – and a full-time student of English and French at Yale – she has already been signed up by a talent agency, Rona Represents, in New York.

Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year Winners Gallery

The other major winner, of the Photograph of the Year award, is Eve North from Co Kildare. North is actually Niamh O’Reilly, who uses the name Eve North for her photography. O’Reilly took her winning photograph, The Copse, of her friend Sallay Garnett, a singer, in the grounds of Castletown House, in Co Kildare. It caught the judges’ attention because of its timeless, haunting quality and subtle monotones. Although O’Reilly is still an amateur, photography is her full-time passion, and she is trying to break into the profession. The image also wins her the title of Monochrome Photographer of the Year.

Michael Nolan stepped out of a Dublin laneway on to Dame Street at Halloween and spotted a taxi with an unusual customer. He stood straight in front of the car and, using an off-camera flash to light the main subject and a slow shutter speed to capture the atmosphere in the street, took the terrific photograph that has won him the title of Street Photographer of the Year.

Shane Connaughton, who works in the office of Sportsfile, a photo agency, is a keen amateur in his time off. He took the highly atmospheric We’ll Speak in the Morning in France, chancing on the scene after a concert. In fact, the wind-on lever on his camera wasn’t working properly, and he had no idea what the result would be like. It makes him Colour Photographer of the Year.

Felicia Simion, who is from Romania, likes to dream, creating images that are sometimes photojournalistic and sometimes of the dreamworld. Now 19, she has been taking photographs since she was 13. Her winning portrait, taken with a 60mm macro lens, is of her cousin sitting in a car on a rainy day. The beautiful image makes her Portrait Photographer of the Year.

Jackie Campbell took her remarkable photograph of barracuda on a diving holiday in Sudan. She took it with a relatively simple camera, a Canon Ixus 100, in an underwater housing. Campbell, who works in retail fashion, shot it at the Sha’ab Rumi diving site by remaining very still and staying away from other divers. Eventually the fish lost their fear and came right up to her. The judges loved the freshness and composition of the image and the striking blue. Campbell is Nature Photographer of the Year.

Sarah Hardy is Travel Photographer of the Year for her striking shot Havana Sunbathers. She took it while on holiday in Cuba of two women who frequently pose for tourists. The judges felt that although the subject is well worn the photograph was striking enough to deserve the prize.

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