EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Seizing the Debut

By Jean Dykstra


Image from “Red Squares” by Yulia Gorbachenko.

© YULIA GORBACHENKO
Image from “Red Squares” by Yulia Gorbachenko.


For the Debut category of PDN’s The Look contest, Sony Artisan of Imagery Matthew Jordan Smith selected three young photographers for special recognition.

The Debut category of PDN’s The Look contest is especially significant, as it honors a student or emerging photographer, and this year’s competition—subtitled “Where Fashion Meets Art”—has brought to light a particularly fresh talent: Yulia Gorbachenko. Her brash, vibrant fashion photographs earned her the first-place Debut award in the competition, sponsored by Milk, Dripbook and Sony. Her work reminded me of an era, the 1970s, with the colors and the emotions,” says Debut category judge Matthew Jordan Smith, a highly regarded celebrity, beauty and portrait photographer whose clients include Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Vanessa Williams, Pantene, L’Oréal and Revlon. “I like that she wasn’t just following what other established photographers are doing. Her work is inspired.”

The New York–based Gorbachenko, who emigrated to the United States from Ukraine three years ago, received her master’s degree in digital photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York in July, and her work has appeared in Washington Life Magazine, Washingtonian, PDN and Cliché Mag. Her first-place photographs, Red Squares, were part of her thesis project at SVA, a series called “Remix.”
“Color, flare and beauty are my addictions,” says adding, “I’m extremely happy and inspired to have won the award. Getting recognition for my work is truly important.”

As the winner, Gorbachenko received a PDN Photoserve portfolio, valued at $860, a Sony a850 DSLR, valued at $1,999.99, and an SAL2875 lens, valued at $699.99. Her work also was featured in the September 2010 issue of PDN and in The Look contest gallery.

The two runners-up in the Debut category were Alex Wein and Kris Shacochis. Wein’s spare, streamlined images, titled Rachel Desert, showed a windblown, waifish blond against a blue sky and a dry desert landscape. “Clean, simple and beautiful” is how Smith describes the images submitted by Wein, who is based in San Francisco but is in enrolled in the BFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. “He was telling a story and I liked that about his work.”

Shacochis is a BFA student at the University of the Arts, College of Art and Design, in Philadelphia. Her entry, Third Dimension, consists of soft, muted images with an almost three-dimensional look. “Her work is playful and interesting,” notes Smith, “and her style stands out, which is hard to do in this industry.”

Being honored in The Look contest is a significant coup for these three young shooters, he adds. “I judge contests whenever I can, especially student work. They are the ones who are going to change the world when they put their work out there.”

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PDN November 2014: The Moving Image Issue

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