HIPA Awards – Faces category

The Russian photographer Rudoi Vladimirovich won first prize in the Faces category with a portrait of a teenage girl named Stella-Maria. It’s a classicist picture, taken in a photography studio, with the chiaroscuro lighting actively designed to evoke the Golden Hollywood era.

Yet Vladimirovich is from a tiny, remote Russian city, and was unable to get a passport to attend the HIPA event. Stella-Maria herself, one gets the impression, could not be further from Hollywood if she tried. Yet everything about her captures why so much art, and so much of popular culture, remains fixated on the female form. “The shadow covering part of Stella-Maria’s face adds to her intrigue, innocence and youth,” Vladimirovich said in a statement.

In second place is Kenneth Geiger’s image of Ma Ngua, a 20-year Karen Burmese soldier, taken in 1989, as she guards her post at a rebel stronghold along the border of Burma and Thailand.


The ethnic Burmese ‘Mon’ army was made up of 3000 soldiers, with more than 100 women fighting. Geiger found her at the end of a long, winding dirt road, very much off the beaten track of the war; she had covered her face in Thanaka to protect her skin, and had positioned an M16 rifle in easy reach beside her.

Chi Hung Cheung, a photographer from Hong Kong, won third prize for an image taken on a cold February morning, at the time of Chinese new year, in Huangnan, China. Three old women, each holding a cup of buttered tea, talk and laugh, the steam from the tea blending with their evaporating breath.

Ali Zohari, from the United Arab Emirates, won fourth place for a photograph of an old Vietnamese lady, who had spent her life on a mountain range, witnessing the American war, the communist era of Ho Chi Minh, and now watching as tourists frequent the valleys below her. “The wrinkles on her face feel like pathways to stories from her life,” Zohari says. “But despite her age, she offers optimism and hope.”

A picture of a child in Hong Kong, taken by Xyza Dela Cruz Bacani, from the Philippines, won fifth prize in the category. Taken from in front of a translucent piece of glass, with a clear strip running across its centre, the picture is drawn to the girl’s eyes “clearly seeing something for the first time,” Dela Cruz Bacani says.

For information on how to enter HIPA 2015-2016, please visit HIPA’s website

Tom Seymour

Tom Seymour is an Associate Editor at The Art Newspaper and an Associate Lecturer at London College of Communication. His words have been published in The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, Financial Times, Wallpaper* and The Telegraph. He has won Writer of the Year and Specialist Writer of the year on three separate occassions at the PPA Awards for his work with The Royal Photographic Society.