Congratulations to Escuela Argentina de Fotografia our 2010 Student Focus winners!

27th Jul 2010

© Victoria Ines Dobaño and Rodrigo Terren Toro courtesy of WPO 2010

We are pleased to announce that students Victoria Ines Dobaño and Rodrigo Terren from Escuela Argentina de Fotografía, in Argentina, have won the Student Competition at the Sony World Photography Awards 2010.

From the 120 institutions initially selected to compete, 12 students were shortlisted from six institutions across six continents to take part in the final stage of the competition. The students’ challenge was to produce a series of six photographs that explored the notion of ‘Power’. The 12 students were given two weeks to complete the exercise within their local community. The 12 winning students and the overall winning university received a combined prize of €45,000 worth of digital SLR photographic equipment, courtesy of Sony.

The students’ images were judged by an esteemed panel of arts professionals: Adrian Evans – Director of Panos pictures agency, Adrian Boot – Music photographer and co-founder of, Jonathon Torgovnik – widely exhibited documentary photographer and co-founder of NGO, Foundation Rwanda, Idris Khan – artist and Sue Steward – photography critic, writer, radio broadcaster, photo-editor and journalist.

Victoria and Rodrigo’s winning images, entitled Villa Epecuen, depict the overwhelming power of water. Villa Epecuen in Argentina was a town which for many years drew tourists who believed that its saltwater lake had healing properties. It was a sacred place for the native people of Argentina. In 1985 Villa Epecuen was completely flooded when the lake overflowed its embankments, covering over half the town. The aftermath of the disaster reveals the powerful and devastating effects of water.

Student Focus Winners 2010 2© Victoria Ines Dobaño and Rodrigo Terren courtesy of WPO 2010

Student Focus 2010 judge, Sue Steward, commented:

"The choice of Power as the theme for this year’s Student Focus ignited an exceptional standard and variety of work. Maybe it’s the abstract quality of the word which prompted interestingly different responses from the six universities. The winning Argentine series followed-up the story of a tragic flood 25 years ago, a description of the power of nature. The photographers found beauty in the stark, abandoned and destroyed landscape, the chaos of fallen bricks and concrete, dark leafless trees, and partially demolished buildings - the crucial reminders of lives once lived there. The choice was difficult but ultimately this series possessed the greatest maturity and depth of them all.

On winning this award the students tutor at Escuela Argentina de Fotografia, Ines Yujnovsky, commented:

Teaching photography means transmitting the passion of this fascinating art and technique and we believe students should search their own vision. Student Focus encouraged students to think about their own approaches to themes like ‘War and Peace’, ‘Power’ and ‘Everyday life’ in a city like Cannes. Having the opportunity to go to the Festival was incredible. We enjoyed talks, exhibitions, portfolio reviews and met interesting people who are dedicated to photography. For us being the “University of the Year” and to win the prize will improve our possibilities to continue expanding the passion of photography to young students.

Student Focus 2010 Winners 4© Victoria Ines Dobaño and Rodrigo Terren courtesy of WPO 2010

After we delivered the fantastic news of their achievement to them, we interviewed Rodriogo and Victoria:

How do you feel about winning Student Focus 2010?

Rodrigo - I feel great. It is fantastic to represent in this way my university and my country. Sometimes photography can be very personal but in this case the assignment, which implied specific elements and working with other people, was an exciting experience!!

Victoria - Obviously it is a sensation of joy. I am proud as a student, as a person and a future photographer. Maybe it is a responsibility but for me the most important thing is to be able to share this moment with the people who support me every day.

Where did you find the inspiration for your winning photographs?

Rodrigo - I have been working on the relationship between men and nature for some years. And I think good photographs should express our own thoughts. If you try to resolve a theme that you couldn’t choose, it is more difficult to arrive to success. But it is interesting to consider that a natural problem such as the volcano didn’t let us continue with the competition and it was in relation to a natural disaster that we could do the work that won.

Victoria - I don’t think inspiration is a moment or a precise instant. It is rather a construction, a process, a development which takes time to meditate. I had to think a lot about the topic. The power theme was very complex but we had some alternatives. I think inspiration comes with study, reading, analysis, observation and being willing to learn.

You were originally meant to do the final competition in Cannes earlier this year, but how did you find doing the competition in your country?

Rodrigo - I liked doing the competition in Argentina. The assignment in Cannes was more foreign to me. I didn’t feel identified. Besides, as I don’t speak other languages, communication was more difficult. Power was a theme that allowed us to transmit a global problem expressed in a typical town of Buenos Aires.

Victoria - I think sometimes lack of time can be a problem. Of course having to do the assignment in 24 hours in another country would have been difficult but maybe we had done it with more decision and precision. At the beginning, two weeks seemed a lot of time but having to be in agreement with my team made us lose precious days. So, time passed by in disagreement. About doing it in Argentina, it was a good moment to rediscover the place where we live but we don’t actually observe.

Did you enjoy your time in Cannes on the Student Focus programme?

Rodrigo - It was incredible! What I most enjoyed was meeting people of other countries such as the students and teachers of Poland and South Africa. We found people very talented, generous and kind. It was very interesting listening to the conferences, watching the works presented by different photographers and interacting in the portfolio review. I liked feeling the passion for this art. I also found photography as fine art is much more valued than in Argentina, where the market of photography is still considered lowly; it is difficult to think about oneself as an artist. I feel the relationship with the other students was very nice due to the fact that we weren’t competing. We could share some works, we went to dinner, parties, walks and laugh.

Victoria - It was what I most enjoyed; I feel that was the big prize for all. Having the opportunity to travel, meet very interesting people, who come from different places was incredible. I really had a great time and came back very happy.

Do you think you might enter the Sony World Photography Awards in the future?

Rodrigo - Yes, I would to like to enter but in other categories.

Victoria - Of course I’m going to, anything is possible. I could enter the Sony World Photography Awards and I will also encourage my classmates to do it.

We would like to say a massive congratulations to Escuela Argentina de Fotografía on winning this prize and we wish Victoria and Rodrigo the best of luck for their future careers in the photography industry. To view their complete winning series, plus all the runners-up series click here

The 2011 Student Focus competition has now been launched. The 2011 judges of the competition are: Eder Chiodetto, independent curator, photographer and photography critic and professor, based in São Paulo, Brazil; Simon Norfolk, prolific landscape photographer, UK; Deborah Willis, artist and photographer, based in New York, USA; Roger Tooth, head of photography for The Guardian newspaper, UK; and Shizuka Yokomizo, a Japanese born, London based photographer who is best known for her portrait series Strangers.

More information about Student Focus 2011 can be found at

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