Paola Rey speaks to photographer Yessenia Vasquez López, whose piece will represent the country at the renowned World Photography Awards
Sony will once again put on the world’s biggest photography competition, bringing together thousands of amateur and professional photographers from around the world. Last year’s contest attracted 173,444 entries from 171 countries from around the globe.
This year’s winning national photographers will have their work exhibited at Somerset House, London, from April 22 to May 8. Finalists will also have their entries published in the 2016 edition of the Sony World Photography Awards book.
Colombian photographer Yessenia López, 23, won the ‘Colombia National Awards’ category, with her photo ‘Momentum’, and is now set to go up against some of the world’s most talented photographers.
Bucaramanga-born López, who is currently based in Bogotá, spoke exclusively to The Bogotá Post, detailing her initial experiments with focus and a camara obscura to travel photography and projects under the guidance of mentor Jaime Romero. Photography, in her own words, is a world “full of rigour, accuracy and magic”.
She goes on to explain: “My inspiration was born out of the search for new ways to express myself, to communicate what I feel.”
López has a degree in audiovisual media and cinematography and has also participated in several short films as producer and art director. Teachers have played an important role in shaping López’s career path, and each and every person she has met and learnt from has helped to improve her portfolio and skills. She tends to work in black and white, as well as using long exposure techniques.
Her winning photo ‘Momentum’ was shot with a camera she borrowed from a friend, Camilo Peralta (the model in the photo), and winning this award is especially impressive, given that she currently does not own a camera.
López tells me: “I put a lot of love and dedication into the photograph and I think the feeling is inherent”. Considering why her image might have won, she remains modest: “That’s a question that, if I get the chance, I will ask the jury. To be honest it was an unexpected, but very satisfying, achievement.”
For López, it is important that images have something to say. Technique is important, but it is far more important to create a relationship with the photo, drinking in the spontaneity and inspiration that the image conveys to you, the observer.
Participation in such a prestigious award hails new opportunities for the photographer, from studying abroad to even landing a new job for a renowned publication, although this is perhaps not the path she had envisaged her life taking.
“I always imagined representing Colombia in cinematography”, she explains, “but I feel proud to be representing my country in art.”
The Colombian has enjoyed visiting London, an opportunity which has enabled her to interact with various industry representatives. Yet she remains unfazed, fully aware that her career choice is at times underrated in Colombia, a major challenge for many budding photographers.
She explains: “Photography can be undervalued. This is reflected in the salary a photographer normally receives as well as how their work is received. Currently the challenge is making people understand that this is a vocation that requires a lot of creativity and effort.”
Here in Bogotá, López is part of a photography group, Corporación Audiovisual Tres Párpados, which works with disabled people or victims of conflict. López is currently working on a project entitled ‘La rata blanca del Bronx de Bogotá’, documenting the homeless in more run down city areas. The group of artists and friends plan to display their work in the centre’s Neebex gallery, which she hopes will give something back to the community and inspire people to learn more about her art.
For more information on ‘Momentum’ and the Sony awards, visit www.worldphoto.org.
By Paola Rey