THIRD PRIZE: Kovi Konowiecki

Shimi Beitar Illit (left)Tilly and Itty Beitar Illit (right) from the series Bei Mir Bistu Shein, by Kovi Konowiecki, May 2016
© Kovi Konowiecki
Third Prize: £2,000

American artist Kovi Konowiecki was born and raised in Long Beach, California. After pursuing a professional career in football, Kovi is receiving his Master of Arts in photography from the University of the Arts in London. His work lies between documentary and fine art, often focusing on portraiture and telling stories that reveal his identity, including his experiences of growing up in Long Beach.

Shimi Beitar Illit and Tilly and Itty Beitar Illit are part of a series of pigment prints that portray Orthodox Jews from around the world. The colours and floral background create a painting-like quality, highlighting the mysticism of the subjects and their association with a history that many may find unfamiliar. Konowiecki explains: “When I set out to photograph the faces of Orthodox Jews around the world, it was an attempt to both strengthen my ties to my family’s history and shed light on the traditions of a people that seem strange to modern society. The project started by contacting members of the Jewish community from where I grew up, and evolved into travels across the world to capture Orthodox Jews who, despite living, thousands of miles apart, are bound together by history, tradition and a set of values that serve as the cornerstone of the lives of many who live in today’s society."

Judges’ comments: “This is the first time a series of works have been awarded a prize in the competition. The judges were immediately drawn to Konowiecki’s striking and ornate portraits, which provide a glimpse into an otherwise inaccessible community.”