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The winning photos from 5’s Sustainability Champion contest

Words: 5

Photos: Various

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

Vitelio Cenepo Pinedo holding a leaf that represents “a bond and a pact with the earth,” says Sandra Ramírez Giraldo, describing her winning photo.

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

Once a poacher, now a protector. Marjan Yazdi’s winning photo of Mohammad Ali Banaei.

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 jury

See the professionals who judged the winning photos below and read interviews with a selection of our jury members here.

Mika Aberra

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”.

website | instagram

Oghalé Alex

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.

website | instagram

Kid Circus

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.”

website | instagram

Vitalik Denys

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”.

website | instagram

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.

website | instagram

Mishael Phillip

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.

website | instagram