The winning photos from 5’s Sustainability Champion contest
Sustainability Champion Photo Contest
Congratulations to our winners!
5’s Sustainability Champion Photo Contest challenged you to take an awesome photograph of a person you consider to be an eco champion: someone who is helping to protect the planet by leading, educating, driving forward solutions or just inspiring others.
We received dozens of stunning portraits, and with the help of our jury of top photographers and the 5 community, selected two winners. They each receive a prize of €2500, plus a coaching session or portfolio review with one of our jury members, the opportunity to host a takeover of 5’s Instagram account to showcase their work, and more.
And we can now reveal the two winners!
5 Community Prize WINNER
Sandra Ramírez Giraldo
Sandra Ramírez Giraldo captured this image of Vitelio Cenepo Pinedo. She spent more than a month living with Vitelio and his family, who manage the Pukka Shungo project in the Peruvian jungle. The family are custodians of 200 hectares of native forest, and bearers of memories sheltered among centuries-old trees. They work the land and help protect it from loggers, miners and violence. Vitelio is one of the guides who seeks to preserve his people’s ancestral knowledge and the connection with Earth.
Sandra describes Vitelio as “a genuine person, with a soft voice and a frank laugh”. “A restless and searching being”. He tries to find sustainable ways to share the knowledge and beauty of the jungle such as knowledge of fauna and flora, ecotourism and adventure sports. “He is a man who knows, walks, enjoys, breathes and suffers the jungle,” she says.
“It is a joy for me and the entire Pukka Shungo family to be recognised for their conservation work”
Sandra Ramírez Giraldo, 5 Community Prize Winner
She describes her photo of Vitelio as “an intimate image”. “His wisdom, his knowledge and experience are in connection with the jungle, and he is a reflection of it.” The leaf represents “a bond and a pact with the earth”, she says.
Having spent almost three years following environmental leaders in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, Sandra was very excited upon hearing the news of her winning photo:
“It is a joy and satisfaction for me and the entire Pukka Shungo family to be recognised for their conservation work and commitment to their culture, roots and territory. I am immensely grateful to your search for these stories that restore hope for life, for the earth.”
Sandra wants to use the €2500 prize to further her support for the Pukka Shungo project and “contribute to its legacy of conservation”.
5 Jury Prize WINNER
Marjan Yazdi captured this photograph of Mohammad Ali Banaei, who established the Masjed Mountains protected area in central Iran. It is taken from a series showing people who’ve made the transition from poachers to protectors of nature. Mohammad Ali began to seek redress for the damage poachers had done by putting an end to poaching and persuading other poachers to join him on this journey. After five years of protecting the area, wildlife numbers have tripled.
The contest jury called this a “phenomenal” portrait that successfully portrays its subject as part of nature, and puts the viewer “in a state of wonder”, inviting them to learn more.
“I’m very happy and honoured to have won. I’m sure that Mohammad Ali would also be very happy. It means the world to me. But it’s not just for me, it’s for the wildlife protectors in Iran, who are not really appreciated,” Marjan says.
“When I heard about a group of wildlife rangers who used to be poachers, I knew that this story deserved to be seen and heard”
Marjan Yazdi, 5 Jury Prize Winner
She describes the chance encounter that led to her winning photo: “I was sitting in a cafe when I overheard a story about a group of wildlife rangers who used to be poachers. I knew that this story deserved to be seen and heard. So it became my mission to show Mohammad Ali and his fellow comrades’ story through photography.”
The photo captures his regret, says Marjan. “Standing on top of one of the hills of the protected area, Mohammad Ali turned his head and shifted his gaze far behind him, as if he was taking that moment to reflect on his past. Mohammad Ali’s dark past is what helps him make a bright future for the wildlife of the area.”
“I believe he wouldn’t have the same impact as he does right now if he wasn’t carrying the weight of regret on his shoulders. He is full of passion and determination.”
Marjan says the €2500 prize money will help her to “complete my mission as a storyteller by showing the devotion of Mohammad Ali to nature and help him get closer to his dreams of getting global recognition for the Masjed Mountains Protected Area”.
Congratulations to our two winners, our finalists, and everyone who took part in the competition!
Full terms and conditions for the contest can be found here.
THE TOP 5 JURY PRIZE FINALISTS
Johnny C.Y. Lam
Johnny Lam photographed fisherman Kendall Dewey, who practises sustainable fishing in Lake Ontario, Canada. Fisheries here are regulated by the state government to make sure fish stocks are managed sustainably and biodiversity is protected. Kendall fishes in a small boat with a crew of just two, using hoop nets and gillnets, which both have a low environmental impact and low level of bycatch. Dewey is heading towards retirement, and to ensure the business continued, he recently took on a Syrian refugee, Sleiman Al Jasem, to take it over. Our jury said the photo feels “very honest” and captures “a nice moment”.
Walter H. Wust
Walter Wust shot this portrait of Maestro Juan Flores, guardian of the Boiling River. Juan Flores is one of the most famous and highly esteemed shamans in the Peruvian Amazon and one of the last custodians of the ancestral knowledge of the Ashaninka people. Walter photographed him next to the Mayantayacu hot stream, which emerges at a temperature of 94°C. The area is a sanctuary dedicated to studies of traditional medicine and natural healing. Don Juan treats people by using over 5,000 native plants from the nearby forests. Our jury called this photo “spectacular” and said the story “exists vividly behind the photo”.
Ayşe Gürsöz captured this shot of Snutetkwe Manuel and her daughter in Cold Lake, Alberta. Snutetkwe is one of the Tiny House Warriors, who are on a mission to stop a new oil pipeline from crossing Secwepemc territory. Their ten tiny houses are placed along the 518km pipeline route to assert Secwepemc law and block access to the pipeline. Snutetkwe says: “This is a climate emergency, if this pipeline goes through it will increase the size of tar sands to the size of Texas. I wouldn’t say I am fighting the pipeline. I would say I am going to stop this pipeline.” Our jury called it a “powerful” image that “gives us a strong sense of defiance”.
Matteo de Mayda
Matteo de Mayda shot this portrait of Luca Deganutti, a researcher at the University of Padua in Italy. In 2018 Storm Vaia felled many trees in this forest. The dead wood attracts a species of beetle, which can then spread to the healthy trees, threatening to destroy even more forest than the storm did. Luca is part of a team researching new techniques to help protect the forest. Our jury called this a “strong” photo with great technique.
Marina Castagna captured this portrait of Amie N’Dong, founder of Social Vanilla. The company sells premium vanilla grown by small-scale farmers and works to make the vanilla industry more socially and environmentally sustainable. Amie says: “Social Vanilla is here to solve the issues in the vanilla value chain and provide consumers with a product they can trust, tastes amazing and changes lives.” Our jury said this photo “reflects the positive aspirations” of a “strong woman”.
THE TOP 5 COMMUNITY PRIZE FINALISTS
Kaj Lergaard photographed designer Tytti Sofia Hongisto using a build-it-yourself pinhole camera. Tytti wants to change the future of fashion by creating garments purely from textile waste and sustainable materials. “Transforming waste and renewing something unwanted into something valuable and practical, a new product, new life – that’s what I find beautiful,” says Tytti.
Bartjan de Bruijn
Bartjan de Bruijn captured this photo of Rabbit Peat and his partner Sofee Nadine, whose eco farm in Portugal burned down in a forest fire in 2018. Sofee was pregnant with their first daughter at the time. They managed to get out safely, but the farm was lost, and they’ve been rebuilding ever since. This photo was taken one month after the fire. The many eucalyptus trees farmed in the area, which are highly flammable, contributed to the fire. Rabbit is now raising funds to reforest a defunct eucalyptus plantation nearby.
Anel Hotic took this photo of Medina, who was collecting trash on the banks of the Sana river in Kljuc, Bosnia, with the help of her old German boxer, who helps by finding and collecting plastic bottles. The river’s name means ‘healthy’, and Medina helps make sure it lives up to the name. Anel says Medina’s “passion and love for cleaning this river and environment cannot be replaced by anything material”.
Kateryna Konieva captured this shot of Mimi Chung, who set up an edible vertical garden at her home in Singapore, so she no longer has to shop for vegetables. Kateryna says urban farmers like Mimi “have proved that it is possible to grow your own food in a dense city like Singapore”
Sjoukje van Gool
Sjoukje van Gool captured this shot of Nichon Glerum, co-founder of the Dutch clothes swap system Ketting Kledingruil, which translates as something like ‘Clothing the Loop’. The network has 8,000 members. Nichon also provides clothes for Sjoujke’s underwater shoots – and in this picture, she herself is the star. Sjoujke says: “With her enthusiasm, creativity and drive she keeps on creating solutions to help making the world a better place, solutions that are not only sustainable, but also great fun to work with.
See the professionals who judged the winning photos below – and read interviews with a selection of our jury members here.
Mika is a photographer and cinematographer based in Gothenburg, Sweden, who has worked with brands including Apple, The North Face, Mercedes-Benz and H&M. He says he is always striving to convey emotion through images, and to create something “that feels honest and transparent”.
Oghalé is a Nigerian-American Photographer, working in London, England and Phoenix, Arizona. Oghalé is determined to change the negative narratives surrounding black men and women, by capturing them in different dignified ways, and expressing feelings of togetherness. His shots have been published in magazines including Nataal and Viewpoint Colour, and he currently has work on exhibition at the English National Portrait Gallery.
Kid Circus (also known as Michael) is a portrait and fashion photographer from London. His first passion was landscapes, architecture and street photography, and from there he got into portraiture. He shoots mostly on film, explaining: “I just feel the process means I have to be way more intentional with every click, and I believe the slower pace helps me to better build a connection with my subjects.”
Vitalik is a photographer based in Lviv, Ukraine, focusing on fashion and beauty, conceptual and advertising photography. He likes to explore human nature through the lens of his camera, reflecting emotions and giving subjects the freedom to express themselves. Vitalik says: “Photography documents reality, depicts aesthetics, and shows how precious life and the beauty of our world is. But it’s also visual poetry; it can appeal to our hearts, change our perception.” He was a finalist in 5’s Everyday Changemaker Photo Contest in 2020.
Ana Carolina Fernandes
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ana Carolina had a passion for photography from a young age. Inspired by her father’s job on a newspaper, and became a photojournalist herself. Her influences include Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum and Brazilian photographers Maureen Bisiliat and Claudia Andujar, who have documented Brazil’s immense backlands and indigenous tribes. Today Ana Carolina works on documentary projects “with a humanist vision”.
Marta Julia Johansen
Marta is 5’s visual director. She has many years of experience as a graphic designer and art director in sectors including theatre, fashion, TV and food. She has worked with numerous leading photographers on commercial and editorial projects.
Denisse Ariana Pérez
Denisse is a Caribbean-born, Barcelona-based copywriter and photographer. She is obsessed with words, people and imagery and finding ways to make them speak to one another. She studied in interactive art direction at Hyper Island in Stockholm, Sweden, and currently works as a freelance senior creative.
Mishael Phillip is a photographer working in London and Copenhagen. He teaches at the Danish photography school Fatamorgana.
Misha Vallejo Prut
Misha is an Ecuadorian photojournalist who describes his work as lying in the border between documentary and art. He was a finalist in 5’s Everyday Changemaker Photo Contest in 2020. His work has been published in Vice, the New York Times Lens and Geo, and has been exhibited at the Lumix Festival of Young Visual Journalism in Germany, the Bronx Documentary Center and the Rencontres de la Photographie festival in France.