Winner - Jaskirt Dhaliwal
The Everyday Olympian documents people involved in local community sports, be it a 12 year old swimmer or 30 year old boxer. These are the people that make up the tapestry of sports that thrive at grass roots level across the region. They may not be an Olympian, however it is through their commitment and participation on a weekly or daily basis that so many sports still function and exist. Shot on medium format all the participants were photographed after taking part in competition/training.
"Jaskirt I really like the ambition in this work, you have sensibly chosen to photograph accessible people within sport, going 'local' rather than photographing the 'stars' which nowadays with all the sponsorship deals and security are almost impossible to photograph within a free and open context.
Perhaps it is the use of a medium format camera, or the consistent lighting, that has helped to give the set a consistent 'feel'. (I think when you know each shot has a cost attached to it in concentrates the mind and the eye, as so much of what we do these days with digital photography is designed to be deleted.)
I really do think you captured something here by maintaining a consistent energy in the portraits, with direct eye contact and flat expressions, I would say that I think the first image is the strongest, not because of the swimmers outfit, but because it seems like we can 'know' this person, something intangible is revealed by the way he is looking at you. I would use this as a model for any further work you do on this project, see how this photograph works and understand why some of the others do not.
Keep the shape and format constant! I think the set is weakened by the fact that there are some where you crop into the heads of the subjects, and others where the person is smiling. It will be much stronger if you address this to create a typology of images. Use a chinagraph pencil and draw a line on the viewfinder, (Or insert a transparent acetate) mark where you want the persons eyes in the frame, and the scale of how they sit within it. Remember that very slight changes here can have a huge effect on the final set of images. Use the first image to create this 'mask' then roll out some more portraits within these strict limitations. It will help you! You will not worry so much about how to compose the image because that has already been pre-determined and decided, you can then concentrate on the person and the expression you need.
Try looking at the subject directly and not through the finder of the camera when you are shooting, your engagement with the person will then come across in the final image. (Look at Avedon's 'In The American West' this is exactly what he used to do with his large format 10x8 plate camera, or better still see if you can find Laura Wilson's book on how he worked, see attached)
Well done, and good luck with any further work. I hope you can continue to build on this work, I would love to see more!"
Peter Marlow, Magnum photographer