IWD 2020 Photography Competition winner Georgina Abreu shares insight into her work

International Women's Day 2020 Photography Competition winner Georgina Abreu (winning entry above) provides some insight into her winning entry - how she came up with the idea, what inspired her, and what the message is behind the image.


What's message and background are you conveying in your photograph?

The image that won the IWD 2020 Photo Competition is from a project called ‘Um-do-li-tá’, which is inspired by childhood and games I used to play when I was younger, growing up in Madeira Island.

It is about connecting to our younger and genuine selves, and the times of play, times in which things were not over thought and life was simple to our eyes.

Even though this project was a bit personal, I still wanted to show that it really is about everyone too, so having the element of diversity of race, extends the project even more.

The message is really about not being afraid of being ourselves and let the child inside us speak, because we can actually learn a lot about ourselves.

How do you usually draw inspiration for your work? And what do you love best about photographing people - especially female subjects?

Georgina Abreu photo

I come from more of a constructed fashion imagery background, because I really love the creative control and creativity it allows me.

The inspiration for my work usually comes from the place I grew up in, Madeira Island.

Aspects of my culture and my own experiences of growing up in the island, being surrounded by nature and the sea, are some of the sources of inspiration.

My photography teacher once told me that my work is quite nostalgic and almost like a trip to the past, and it kind of is.

I also draw inspiration from emotions and feelings and that is an aspect very present on my moving image pieces.

I think what I really love about photographing people, especially female subjects, is that each one brings something different to the shoot, their own shine and quirks, and that is always very unique.

I also feel very comfortable around women and I relate more to them because I am one too, which makes it easier and also interesting to photograph.

In your opinion, what makes a really great photo when it comes to featuring a women?

Georgina Abreu photo

It is still quite common that women are being male gazed and portrayed in a sexist way, as objects of desire.

I think woman, over the years, also started thinking that they could only be beautiful if they were portrayed being sexy, which is a complete nonsense and a topic that frustrates me deeply.

In my photography, I always try to do the opposite.

I think there are a lot of positive ways of representing women within photography, depending on what the message is.

Empowering women is one of them.

Within my work, I like to also show their vulnerability; I don’t think that it makes them feel weaker, but it rather more human and confident of themselves, and there is beauty in that.

It is actually also very empowering to show that softer and real side of women, because we do all go through very similar situations and feelings in our lives, in our own way.

Do you think female photographers encounter certain challenges, more so than their male counterparts?

I don’t think so, or at least I haven’t had an negative experience when it comes to that aspect.

I think nowadays, the industry is very different and being a woman photographer is normal and even praised.

Afterall, it is really about each ones’ vision and creativity.

But perhaps years ago, it was still a bit of a stereotype that photographers were mostly men.

Fortunately, now it is a really great time to be a woman photographer.

What's your advice to novice photographers just starting out?

I would say that if you have an idea, make the effort to realize it, because you will never know if it works until you actually try it out.

Be confident of yourself and not afraid of failure, as it will make you grow.

Photograph things, people of places that inspire and speak you, as there is no point of making work, if you don’t connect to it.

Read more about the IWD 2020 Photography Competition winner and finalists here.

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