Croatian, 44 years old
Dragica originates from Croatia. She lives and works in London.
Dragica is a professional fine artist, painter who uses photography in her creative thinking: she often used photography to capture moods, sensations, urban energy or everyday situations. Camera became an essential part of her everyday journey through life. Photography inspired her to search and collect visual references, like things suggesting impermanence and transition of life, almost invisible or hidden spaces, and objects that beautifully poise in between these spaces. She observes situations, people and their thoughts in the context of their own lives. 'I try to understand how things around me exist and why they exist in the way they do', her statement.
Photographing scenes of life drives her imagination to examine relationships between the metaphysical world and the world of substance, between man and his surroundings. For example, the photographs of a walk around the streets of East London, overwhelmed by the industrial buildings with their grey and red brickworks, the façade and surfaces emerging in reflection of the sunlight. Dragica says: 'The combination of textures, colours, light, shades and shapes often adds layers to a visual significance and holds our visual attention to explore the non-visual and incomprehensible'.
Italian, 31 years old
Gabriele lives in Milan.
He is a former football player and also a professional tattoo artist. He has been a professional photojournalist for 10 years now. He lives with his partner and his two children but his job often keeps him far from home, and that is why he says: 'Skype saved my life'. He believes in the historical importance and power of printing photos, and because of this, he set some personal exhibitions during the years. He prefers digital photography, but he is also interested in analog photography. He believes in a new way of communicate, evolving our mutual language.
Social matters and political issues attract him and for this reason he is often sent to take photograph sin the Middle East by several international magazines. He works a lot on storytelling and on social problems, especially capturing feelings of people not in the spotlight of the mainstream media. Photography has the power to move questions to himself. He believes in iconic pictures so he shoots mostly in black and white.
His latest work was to photograph the story of two priests from Iraq and Kurdistan who saved many ancient manuscripts from destruction by terrorists.
His motto: “Art is the only evidence of human evolution”
English, 30 years old
Gina Soden is a professional photographer based in London.
After attending a course of professional photography, studying 35mm and digital photography, she worked as a professional photographer on a cruise ship travelling the world photographing landscapes and portraits. She then started her own business and started to photograph abandoned buildings in 2009. She became a full time artist in 2012.
Her modest personality hides an adventurous attitude that leads her to travel widely all over Europe, in order to discover hidden places and abandoned buildings and locations.
The core of Gina Soden’s photography is the exploration of abandoned buildings, discovering boundaries of beauty, decay, nostalgia and neglect. The genesis of each piece is often the unique architectural character of each location, heightened by their painfully and slow transformation after years of abandonment. Rather than taking a documentary approach, Soden breathes a sense of life into the scenes, hinting at narrative with well-studied compositions. Each image has a distinct painterly aesthetic, side stepping the tendency photography has for observational and distanced looking. The compositions feature derelict asylums, long since closed schools, ex-military compounds and famous city power stations in many stages of decay. The results are striking and poignant, at once both edgy in their contemporary aesthetic, and nostalgic in their ruinous beauty. We should underscore her work and effort for the potential controversy of gaining unlicensed access to our bound areas. Every image is the product of a journey, referring both to the physical demands of gaining entry and to the passing of time which is evident in the abandoned locations.
She has exhibited her work in prestigious galleries nationally and internationally and won several awards.
She loves travelling, going to exhibitions and exploring abandoned buildings. Above all, her passion for photography made her see the world in a different way. Her aim is to set an aesthetic statement in every picture. Gina is now ready to push herself over the limit, and winning the Master of Photography prize would allow her to fulfil some ambitious projects she has had in mind for a while, travelling to remote places.
Austrian, 23 years old
Hongwei is a photographer based in Vienna, Austria.
When he was a teenager he started to express himself in a artistic and creative way and achieved first interesting results with light graffiti. This was the foundation to his future path. To him, photography is a powerful way to express himself, work freely and experiment with ideas. This medium has allowed him to transform his visions, thoughts and ideas into reality.
His main interests now are travel and social photography. He aims to catch the unique-ness in people and their lives. However, his art also embraces different styles such as minimal, architecture, night and street photography. Being a millennial, he is very comfortable with technology and he thinks social media offer a great opportunity for future generations to have a collected memory of the past and change the view how we access media. He defines himself as ambitious and curious. He is leaving his comfort zone to get closer to his own limits in order to overtake them. Quoting Fred Herzog, one of his favourite photographers: 'Only a few people can see but most people don’t even look. [...] The camera is just the least important adjunct to your ideas. Your observations are important because they’re you.'
French, 39 years old
Lanka Perren was born in France in 1976.
He studied cinema and graduated from the Conservatoire Libre du Cinema Français in Paris. He moved to Ireland in 1999 and is currently based in both Ireland and France. He has been awarded for many film projects and has created a numbers of short non-narrative documentaries. He has been awarded a Film Project Award in 2011 and 2013 from the Arts Council of Ireland. He worked on many videos and photographic projects, amongst them, four short films for The Lives of Spaces Exhibition (2008), funded by the Irish Architecture Foundation at the 11th International Architecture Biennale in Venice. His passion for photography started 3 years ago. He has a distinctive style, working mainly for photojournalism and editorials.
He loves the creative energy of photography and tries to translate an idea into a visual experience.
He prefers digital photography because he enjoys seeing the results immediately. Not-withstanding this, he thinks that analog photography is more genuine. He likes to shoot with natural light even if he finds it more challenging due to a certain lack of control. His photography focuses on social projects, as “Closed Wounds”, a work on abandoned children in Eastern Europe. He loves to photograph unconventional people and places. He considers photography a way to explore reality but also something to leave a bequest. Travelling is his second passion in life, and if he only had the opportunity, he would photograph resting house and people around the world. He thinks it would be his idea of a nightmare to be in a nursing home when he grows older, so he is interested to explore the concept of solitude and isolation.
German, 26 years old
Laura is a girl from the south of Germany.
Before she recently decided to become a freelance photographer she studied architecture in Munich. Also her younger sister strives to be an artist: she studies opera singing. Both girls underline how happy they are to always have their parents support for these decisions.
In her free time, Laura works with refugees and passionately supports animal rights organizations. Her goal is to introduce these topics into her photography, and - at least on small scale - change peoples mind about it. Photography became her biggest passion because it allows her to tell stories and to express emotions. To the young artist the biggest compliment to receive is when the viewer of her photographs are touched by it.
As she is almost never fully satisfied with her work, the young woman sees Master of Photography as a great chance to grow and learn from others.
Self portraits are a recurring theme in her photography. In Laura’s opinion spending time with yourself like that is a big chance to find yourself, understand yourself and most importantly: accept yourself. That is important to her as she believes that you first have to find peace within yourself in order to be able to spread peace.
Spanish, 21 years old
Marta Lallana Garcia was born in Spain in 1994.
Having attended the Art School of Zaragoza, she is currently embracing her love of film by studying cinema at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.
She usually uses digital cameras, but is also very interested in the use of analog. She greatly appreciates the atmosphere that film can give to an image and the challenge of capturing a moment that is unrepeatable. She gravitates towards images of people in their own environments, and prefers to take photographs that are as complete and natural as possible, with a minimal need for editing. She has a thirst for learning about the techniques behind photography, but will always focus on putting emotion into her images. She has a love of travel and is constantly inspired by the people who live and work in the places she visits. She is particularly drawn to the culture and character of Asia and Russia, and hopes to undertake several projects there in the near future.
In terms of the competition, she will simply focus on taking the best images that she can, and allowing her passion for photography to show. As a relative newcomer to photography, she is most looking forward to testing her capabilities, expanding her skills and exchanging ideas with other photographers.
Italian, 30 years old
Mary Stuart was born and raised in Rome, Italy.
Photography is a cure for her, like art therapy. She is a solitary girl and, when her mother gave her a camera, photography helped her to explore the world, imprinting her visions through the lens. She left the Faculty of Law to dedicate herself to photography. Her favourite photographer is the young and Italian Federica Erra.
Mary prefers portraits and night photography, working with tripod and long exposure time. For this reason, her ideal picture is a photo inspired to Edward Hopper’s paintings, with urban subject, dark and melancholic, also immediate in the storytelling.
She considers herself a very competitive person and she hopes to find in Master of Photography a source of challenges. She adores Iceland and one of her dreams is to create a photo project on that area.
Scottish, 30 years old
Half Scottish, half Ghanaian, Neal Gruer considers himself a creative person.
His passion for photography started when he was a 18 years old. and his Grandmother gave him a small digital camera. After studying Law and practicing as a solicitor in London for several years he left the profession and moved back to Glasgow to become involved with art, full-time.
He prefers to consider himself a creative person, instead of using the title “artist”. He simply wants other people to share in his passions, since he loves to explore many different artistic roles: he plays violin, reviews films and is writing a novel. Yet, his main passion remains photography.
It all began unconsciously, when he was 7 years old. He was the one responsible for taking pictures when he was on holiday with his family. Over the past 23 years, it became all about drawing out people's personalities. The story in a picture is very important for him, as well as finding the connections between people, regardless of their culture. Neal uses mainly digital cameras, but he is interested in exploring the use of analog cameras.
English, 35 years old
Rupert Frere lives and works in London.
Rupert joined the army as a driver in 1997 and transferred from bomb disposal in 2007 to become a photographer. He qualified in 2008 following the course in Defence School of Photography, RAF Cosford, becoming a professional British Army Photographer. Since then, has worked over seas including 3 tours of Afghanistan; he served 4 years with 16 Air Assault Brigade, 3 with the Surveillance Reconnaissance Wing and is currently serving with the Household Division in London.
The passion for photography came from his father, who used to work for Ilford Film and always had a keen interest in photography. Photography totally involves him and his pictures are not merely a reportage: it takes a lot of passion, courage of managing lots of dangerous situations, in which he has to be able to capture the emotion of a very fleeting moment. Emotion is the most important ingredient in his photography, and he is very interested in experimenting on the angle, shooting from different points of view, adapting to those he has to assume while on mission.
For Rupert, every day is an adventure, he truly feels blessed he was able to get to dedicate himself to his hobby as a job, while surrounded by amazing individuals in definitely overwhelming situations, and by his lovable supporting wife.
He loves photographing people in their environment, finding them the most fascinating subjects ever. His strength as a photographer is his constant willingness to learn new techniques and create new ideas for shots.
Are you wondering when the last time he was afraid was? You will never believe this: the day he was called to shoot a photograph of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and She told him there was not enough light in the frame, according to Her.
He describes himself as an eager, fun and resilient person. He won the 2015 British Army Photographic Competition and now he wants to show the world what he is capable of when armed with a camera!
German, 42 years old
Sebastian Siebel is a professional photographer and gaffer based in Berlin.
At the age of 12 he received his first camera from his father and at the age of 16 he began taking photos more seriously, studying photography at school. Photography was love at first sight, it all started during these art lessons: from that moment on, he made of photography his job, this is a way to express himself, to discover the world and to deal with reality by sometimes creating a new one within his staged pictures.
He is very eclectic, spirited and open minded; since he is a photographer and a director, he has plenty of ideas, his personal point of view, he definitely has something to say. He sees this challenge as way to improve his creativity, also by being forced to creatively deal with situations which normally would not occur in his daily life. He has been working for lots of influent and known contemporary photographers like Peter Lindbergh, Ralf Mecke, Mario Testino, David Bellemere, Glen Luchford, Annie Leibovitz e Martin Schoeller. Beside these working experiences he likes the work of Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall. He is motivated to share his personal vision using photography and light as his medium, looking for a secret behind the visible world.
He loves travelling around, discovering places, and he has a wild passion for music, especially when it´s loud and fast. He would like to shoot David Yo of Jesus Lizard, the best rock n’ roll frontman ever, according to him. Master of Photography is the right chance to take his photography forward and to achieve his own huge exhibition. He believes nowadays there are many people shooting without know-ing what they are doing. Some Photographers create their own style and have something to say, others don’t. For him, only the first group is interesting.
Russian, 35 years old
Yan was born near the Black See in Russia in 1980.
He studied at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow, becoming a professional ballet dancer. His career brought him to live a lot around the world in many different cities like Paris, New York, Vienna and some German too. His passion for photography started when he was 9 years old and he built a photography dark room out of his bedroom. The first photo he took willingly was in the Black Sea, the first time he saw the snow, with swans slipping on the frozen surface of the sea. His first camera was called Zorky, a copy of Leica he found at home, probably belonged to his father.
Meanwhile he was working as a professional dancer, he used to take photos during performances and around stage and backstage. He were injured and quit dancing, becoming a full time photographer. Photography means everything to him. After working for different theatres and company as a professional photographer, he moved to Berlin where he lives and works today. He has his own professional photo studio, he loves stage photography and artists are his favourite subject. He is currently working on a book, 'Dance Nude'. He would like to do some diving photography somewhere, and he would go to Paris or Napoli for a new project, even if the location is not the most important thing for him, while the subject is. He says that with new technology and social media is like having a Ferrari! It is a pity not to use it, despite it does not make you a professional Formula-1 pilot!
He was married to a French girl, got divorced and he has been living 8 years now with his girlfriend and her daughter who is 10 years old.
Yan has 5 brothers, all artists working around the world.