Eva O’Leary wins the Hyères Festival photographie grand prix

“The whole jury was in agreement that Eva has a very strong vision and that her work is characterised by a consistency both in aesthetic and content, since the concepts explored are the hot topics of our contemporary society,” says Alessia Glaviano, senior photo editor on Vogue Italia and member of the Hyères Festival photography jury this year – which has awarded the grand prix to Eva O’Leary.

The New York-based photographer has won with a series called Spitting Image, which shows American girls aged 11 to 14 photographed while looking at themselves in a mirror. A project involving both photographs and videos, Spitting Image shows both the girls’ discomfort with being put in front of the lens, and the ways in which they – and others – present themselves for the camera.

O’Leary was picked out by Foam Magazine for its Talent issue in 2014, and graduated from Yale University’s Masters of Fine Art programme in 2016; her work has also been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, Art Forum, and Aperture, and has been exhibited at Danziger Gallery in New York, Christophe Guy Galerie in Zurich, and in the 89+ Marathon held at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery 2013. She wins a €15,000 grant from Chanel, plus a solo show at next year’s Hyères Festival.

Image © Sarah Mei Herman, winner of the American Vintage Photography Prize

The American Vintage Photography Prize went to Sarah Mei Herman, for a project called Xiamen, which she shot in the Chinese coastal city of the same name during a four-month residency and numerous follow-up visits, and which was inspired by the intimacy by friends she noticed while there. The Still Life Prize went to Czilla Klenyánszki for a series called Pillars of Homes, which she shot at home while her newborn baby was napping. Herman wins a €15,000 commission, of which €5000 goes directly to the photographer, and Klenyánszki wins €5000.

“It is difficult to combine my work with motherhood, so I decided to take advantage of the 30 minutes – at most one hour, if I’m lucky – in which my son sleeps to create installations with domestic objects, everything that I have available, that develop from floor to ceiling,” Klenyánszki told www.vogue.it. “Sometimes I enter the scene as a subject even if I am not immediately recognisable. This process allowed me to approach my work in a new way, helping me to find concentration in a limited amount of time.”

Image © Csilla Klenyanszki, winner of the Still Life Prize

The Public and City of Hyères Award to Sanna Lehto, and the Wallpaper magazine award to Allyssa Heuze. The photography jury this year was chaired by the photographer Bettina Rheims, and in addition to Glaviano it included Jed Root (agent and founder at Artists & Company, New York), Ezra Petronio (editor at large, artistic director and photographer on Self Service magazine and Petronio Associates, Paris), and (Daragh Soden, photographer, London, winner of the photographie grand prix in Hyères, 2017).

The prizes were awarded at a special ceremony at the opening weekend of the Hyères Festival, and the work of the ten photographers who made the shortlist is now on show until 27 May – Eva O’Leary (Ireland, USA); Teresa Eng (Canada); Pascale Arnaud (France); Laetitia Bica (Belgium); Sarah Mei Herman (Netherlands); Allyssa Heuse (Philippines, France); Jaakko Kahilaniemi (Finland); Csilla Klenyánszki (Hungary); Sanna Lehto (Finland); and Aurélie Scouarnec (France).

The Hyères Festival also includes several other exhibitions focusing on fashion and photography. Daragh Soden, the London-based photographer who won the grand prix last year, has the solo show awarded as part of the prize, for example, while jury chair Bettina Rheims is showing a selection of her lauded fashion photography. The photography shows at the festival are put together by Raphaëlle Stopin, the artistic director for photography, and this is the 33rd edition of the festival.


Image © Pascale Arnaud, shortlisted for the photographie grand prix
Image © Laetitita Bica, shortlisted for the photographie grand prix
Image © Teresa Eng, shortlisted for the photographie grand prix
Image © Sarah Mei Herman, winner of the American Vintage Photography Prize
Image © Allyssa Heuze, winner of the Wallpaper magazine prize
Image © Jaakko Kahilaniemi, shortlisted for the photographie grand prix
Image © Csilla Klenyanszki, winner of the Still Life Prize
Image © Sanna Lehto, winner of the Public and City of Hyères Award
Image © Eva O’Leary, winner of the photographie grand prix
Image © Aurelie Scouarnec, shortlisted for the photographie grand prix
“Pourquoi m’as tu abandonnée ?” Elizabeth Berkley stuck in bamboo bushes, March 1995, Los Angeles. Fashion Director: Bill Mullen. Image © Bettina Rheims, courtesy Galerie Xippas
Image © Daragh Soden, from his exhibition ‘Tales of Toulon’ at Hyères
Leon Glitsch, model Marquet Lee, artistic collaboration Mac Folkes, American Vintage casting, clothing © Luis Alberto Rodriguez, from his exhibition at Hyères
Image © Arthur Hoffner and Gregoire Schaller, from their exhibition at Hyères
The Affinites Electives, 2017: Tess and Tokyo. Photographs from a creative residency held in Beirut as part of the Elie Saab Award received at the 32nd International Festival of Fashion and Photography of Hyères, 2017 © Nolwenn Brod, from his show at Hyères
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is the editor of BJP, returning for a second stint on staff in 2023 - after 15 years on the team until 2019. As a freelancer, she has written for The Guardian, FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, Aperture, FOAM, Aesthetica and Apollo. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy