Ahead of this year’s awards, we caught up with last year’s finalists to find out how they’ve been getting on, what role visual storytelling plays in allowing them to continue driving change, and their advice to anyone looking to enter this year.
Looking after our world: Bella Lack
Bella Lack, an 18-year-old conservationist and winner of last year’s award, says that winning has helped her in ways she couldn't even have imagined: “Because so much of my activism has been transferred online over the past year, I've been using the camera to record my speeches, to send messages of support to campaigns, and to take photos of nature to inspire others to protect it. It has been an unexpected blessing to have the camera available during these times when communication has been restricted to virtual rather than physical.”
Since last year’s win, Bella has been working on a book and completing a feature-length documentary she began filming before the pandemic. She says, “It is amazing to have the chance to capture your work on such a brilliant camera. We have all heard the stereotype of the young generation being apathetic and wrapped up in the world of technology. However, I think this opportunity is great to showcase that that is not the case at all, and that young people are showing heaps of resilience, passion and perseverance – and are using technology to capture and share that with many others.”
Raising the voices of her local community: Nicole Fernandes de Silva
Since winning last year’s under-21 category for her first art exhibition, a series of portraits of young people in South London entitled ‘Through My Eyes’, Nicole Fernandes de Silva has become increasingly confident with her photography.
Lockdown has been a challenge for many people in many ways, but Nicole is grateful that she’s been able to continue to raise awareness of the struggles young people within her community face through her passion for photography. For her final A Level project, she is working on a ‘lockdown diary’ in which she photographs herself in the same position each day in order to represent the struggle students are currently facing as their lives take on an increasingly repetitive cycle.
She advises anyone looking to inspire change to pick a subject they are truly passionate about, which in turn allows their confidence and pride to shine through. “Entering the competition, as scary as it may be, helps boost your confidence, and you become proud that you are able to do something special with your talent.”