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Winners of My Perspective 2020 international photo competition revealed

Conor O’Dowd's winning image in the Peoples' Choice award of My Perspective 2020
‘My friend Jason the model’ by Conor O’Dowd, winner of My Perspective 2020's Peoples' Choice award (Image credit: Conor O’Dowd/Down’s Syndrome Association)

The winners of the Down’s Syndrome Association's (DSA) international photographic competition have been announced – and they hail from Ireland, Canada and the United States of America.

British actor Peter Davison, who is a patron of the charity, revealed the winners this week on social media. 

Now in its tenth year, the ‘My Perspective’ competition gives photographers who have the genetic condition the chance to share their view of the world. 

My Perspective Peoples’ Choice Award winner 

The general public online, including Digital Camera World users, voted for The Peoples’ Choice Award. 

They chose Conor O’Dowd’s characterful black and white portrait, ‘My friend Jason the model’, as their favorite. 

“I am surprised to win,” said Conor. “It’s great and it makes my parents proud. I can’t wait to tell my best friend Jason the great news. 

“I love the My Perspective competition. I was nominated before and it’s great to win. During lockdown I was out and about taking pictures. I am looking forward to getting my new camera as a prize as well. Thanks to everyone who voted.” 

Conor O'Dowd, winner of the My Perspective 2020 Peoples' Choice award (Image credit: Conor O'Dowd/Down’s Syndrome Association)

Conor, who is from Drogheda in County Louth, Ireland, added: “Jason is my best friend. I met him when we were little. Jason would like to be a fashion model and I would like to be a photographer. 

“For this picture I asked Jason to be my model and he signed the permission form. We had great fun together taking the photo. I love taking photos.”   

My Perspective Judges’ Choice Award winner 

‘Companionship’ by Natalie Stevanus won the My Perspective 2020 Judges' Choice Award (Image credit: Natalie Stevanus/Down’s Syndrome Association)

The Judges’ Choice Award was won by Natalie Stevanus, from Bloomingdale in Canada, for her moving image ‘Companionship.’ 

Natalie has previously reached the finals of the competition three times, but this is the first time she took the top prize. 

“I am very excited and happy to be the winner,” she said. “I was hoping to win one of the awards, but was surprised to check my emails and read the announcement. 

“I liked seeing the other photographs that made the list of finalists. I am interested to see what countries the other photographers are from, and I like to travel. 

“Taking photographs during the pandemic has helped me get outside. When everything was closed because of COVID-19, I could still go for walks on our farm, the countryside nearby and in parks close to where I live.” 

Photographer Natalie Stevanus, winner of My Perspective 2020 Judges' Choice Award (Image credit: Natalie Stevanus/Down’s Syndrome Association)

Natalie’s photograph captures a peaceful, atmospheric early morning scene. 

“I love dogs – on an early morning walk I saw the man and his dog walking,” she adds. 

“I liked how they looked crossing the bridge. With the sun and fog around them it made me wonder are they best friends, and where are they going? What story can this picture tell us?” 

My Perspective Stephen Thomas Award winner 

Houston Vandergriff's ‘Travelling Thru’ image took the Stephen Thomas Award in My Perspective 2020 (Image credit: Houston Vandergriff/Down’s Syndrome Association)

The Stephen Thomas Award is presented each year to a non-UK resident entrant. The award was established in memory of Stephen, a previous ‘My Perspective’ winner who sadly died with his father in a tragic boating accident in 2015. 

For 2020, the recipient is Houston Vandergriff from Knoxville, Tennessee, for his image ‘Travelling Thru’. 

“I was at the train station early in the morning," said Houston. “We were going from Aix-en-Provence to Monaco. The sun was coming up. The reflection made it look like two sunrises.” 

A physical awards ceremony was not possible this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the results were announced and celebrated by way of the DSA’s social media channels. 

Houston Vandergriff won the Stephen Thomas Award in My Perspective 2020  (Image credit: Houston Vandergriff/Down’s Syndrome Association)

The current COVID-19 situation is even more challenging for people who have Down’s syndrome. 

The usual rhythm of life has been disrupted without warning, leaving feelings of isolation, anxiety and frustration. 

Many have additional health conditions affecting respiratory and cardiac health. It can be hard to understand social-distancing and many have difficulty communicating how they are feeling if they become unwell, mentally and physically. 

It is hoped that this year’s ‘My Perspective’ competition has given entrants something to focus on during lockdown. 

You can find out more about the competition on the Down’s Syndrome Association website

See all the My Perspective 2020 shortlisted entries

All shortlisted entries in the Down's Syndrome Association's My Perspective 2020 photo competition  (Image credit: Down’s Syndrome Association)

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