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    These Photographers Were Asked To Portray What It's Like To Be A Millennial

    They showed joy, isolation, hope, anxiety, and much more.

    Photographers who entered this year's Student Focus Award, part of the Sony World Photography Awards, were given this brief: "Millennial: 53% of millennials would rather lose their sense of smell than their technology."

    Broadly speaking, a "millennial" is someone who has come of age in the 21st century, a time of great technological development.

    The photographers in the Student Focus Award explored different aspects of this theme, with many of the entries including personal experience. The overall winner was Sofia Jern for her work about children addicted to glue-sniffing on the streets of Kitale, Kenya.

    These are some of the best entries from the first round of the competition, starting with the 10 finalists.

    "Irezumi (Insertion of Ink)", by Joshua Thomas, from Australia

    Joshua Thomas / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Local tattoo store Conspiracy Ink, located in Wagga Wagga, held its second 'Flash Day' event, in which a selection of pre-made designs were sold and tattooed that day to the public. Among the public was Zacariah Duggan [above], who received his very first tattoo and was the first client to be tattooed that day by artist Michael Forrest." – Joshua Thomas

    "Injured", by Lei Cheong, from Thailand

    Lei Cheong / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Millennials when injured are cured by medical and/or artificial technology." – Lei Cheong

    "Grettel and the Future", by Daisy Reza, from Mexico

    Daisy Reza / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "The construction of identity remains the main future challenge for young people from the millennial generation, in the midst of an ever insufficient education system." – Daisy Reza

    "Castle Hill (Kura Tawhiti)", by Matilda Fraser, from New Zealand

    Matilda Fraser / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "The impulse to record one's presence in a place becomes more pressing than looking into it. View from the car of Castle Hill (Kura Tawhiti), Canterbury High Country, New Zealand." – Matilda Fraser

    "Snow White", by Sofia Jern, from Finland

    Sofia Jern / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "A dress that we utilise once can turn a little girl into a princess for life. I was in Kenya when this little girl came into Sunday church with her beautiful Snow White dress. These clothes that we throw away get shipped into Africa and are sold for cents." – Sofia Jern

    "Kapparot", by Felipe Romero Beltrán, from Argentina

    Felipe Romero Beltrán / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "A young ultra-Orthodox Jewish man trying to talk on the phone during Kapparot in Jerusalem, an ancient religious festivity crossed by the weight of time. From the old Jewish ritual to the technology of our days." – Felipe Romero Beltrán

    "Selfie Stick", by Julie Hrncirova, from France

    Julie Hrncirova / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Nowadays, we don't look around ourselves enough, not even at each other. We are almost unable to have a conversation without looking at our smartphones and laptops. We are absorbed by this virtual world, which makes us more isolated. Because of that, we are progressively moving away from the reality; but also from our roots and from nature more than ever." – Julie Hrncirova

    "Mom's Closet", by Yui Takahashi, from Japan

    Yui Takahashi / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "My mom passed away four years ago. This is a self-portrait taken in front of her closet wearing her clothing. Cloth characterises someone's personality. And a closet is a box to keep the clothes in. Japan has a culture of wearing kimonos, which are a type of sustainable clothing. They are made with the intention of being passed down through generations, and are even constructed with extra fabric inside to mend them when they get damaged. As Japan made the transition to wearing more Western clothing, the tradition of handing down clothes to future generations became less prevalent." – Yui Takahashi

    "Portraits of South African Born Frees", by Rochell De Abreu, from South Africa

    Rochell De Abreu / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Born Frees are those born from the year 1994 onward, the year of the first democratic elections. The Born Frees have no direct ties to colonialism and apartheid – they only live with the ripple effects of it. They are moving rapidly away from the way in which their parents were represented." – Rochell De Abreu

    "Shepherds", by Adam Zadlo, from Poland

    Adam Zadlo / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Raised on The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Longing for a fairy tale. The generation with technology in their hands." – Adam Zadlo

    "Fructus Temporum (The Fetus of Time)", by Anastasia Safronova, from Russia

    Anastasia Safronova / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Recently, I met a boy in a church.  He stared at a digital tablet. Maybe he read a prayer. Maybe he was in the social networks. Maybe... However the light emitted from the digital tablet gives me a hope for the best." – Anastasia Safronova

    "Roosa and Roope", by Anna Tervahartiala, from Finland

    Anna Tervahartiala / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Roosa and Roope have been friends for years. They have seen mobile phones change from unattainable gadgets to accessories, which can be compared to vital organs. Even though technology has changed the way people interact and are among each other, it has not changed what it feels like to lean towards a friend and feel the warmth of the human body. Soon after the picture was taken, Roope left for India. Even though he was no longer present, his presence could be felt through the pictures and messages he shared along the way." – Anna Tervahartiala

    "Millennial Me", by Arina Pozdnyak, from Russia

    Arina Pozdnyak / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "When I got the task of making a picture of 'Me Generation', the only thing I could do was to take a selfie. This genre represents us in the best way, because we are known to be self-centred, looking for glory, and always stuck hanging out in the network." – Arina Pozdnyak

    "Borderlines", by Cristian Jurji, from the UK

    Cristian Jurji / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "For ages, each generation has confronted itself with the notion of virtual reality. Long before the computer defined our current concept of this notion, people regarded other mediums as virtual, such as paintings, dioramas, the telephone, and television, each of them leaving a significant stain on the human mind and perception. Subsequently, millennials associate CGI as an example of contemporary virtuality or ‘truth-likeness’. As such, my photograph aims to replicate computer-generated 3D models, despite being in fact a real photograph of a physical wire mesh (in a real, physical room), shaped by hand and composed with controlled lighting and without digital manipulation whatsoever, in an attempt to force the viewer into associating it with CGI." – Cristian Jurji

    "Distorted Universe", by Dan Saracut, from Romania

    Dan Saracut / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "The passage into the new millennium can often impose a problem to the creation of art. Thus, the ideal side of a visual content tends to be replaced by the aesthetics, removing background. The artist is put into the edge of the universe in the form of a distorted simple human in a world of lost because of the inspirational impasse." – Dan Saracut

    "Unity in Paris", by Danny Cozens, from the UK

    Danny Cozens / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    Photo taken in Paris on 15 November 2015. "After the tragedies in Paris, I focused on creating a series based on young Parisians coming together in defiance of the recent [terrorist] attack." – Danny Cozens


    "Who Am I?", by Francu Catalina, from Romania

    Francu Catalina / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "The world today seems to be one of puzzle parts: Some can be real, some might be only in our imagination. Virtual and real worlds collide today. Finding the truth of self can be the adventure of our time." – Francu Catalina

    "Social Media", by Hattie Collins, from the UK

    Hattie Collins / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Many claim that millennials have a forever expanding circle of friends and contacts. What is less heard is how lonely this world can be when these people exist behind a screen." – Hattie Collins

    "If a Cloned Human Were Produced", by Hirai Mana, from Japan

    Hirai Mana / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "In this work, I portrayed myself recognising each pixel as the cell, selected and dissociated from the photo under certain rules. I then duplicated separately and reassociated every dissociated pixel. Thus the clone was made (duplicated)." – Hirai Mana

    "Millennials", by Igor Ilic, from Croatia

    Igor Ilic / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Millennials is the term for a roughly defined demographic of people born between 1980 and 2000. This generation, often proclaimed to be the next

    ‘important generation’, prefers to be called ‘the millennial generation’. They have been described as lazy, spoiled, materialistic, and unemployed. They are reflection of the generation before them, but do they have a right to be cynical towards both the system and the aforementioned characterization?" – Igor Ilic

    "Here Is Always Somewhere Else", by Jasmine Farling, from the UK

    Jasmine Farling / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Landscape with youth reflected in tablet (iPad)." – Jasmine Farling

    "Park Dreaming", by Kenneth Koustrup, from Denmark

    Kenneth Koustrup / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Victoria Park, Athens, September 2015. Many unaccompanied minor refugees stay together in groups to protect and take care of each other on their hopeful journey to the prosperous West. Victoria Park is a big café area in Athens that has become a stopover for many young refugees. Besides the group, their smartphones are one of the most important things because it’s the link to their families back home and a pathfinder for their destinations." – Kenneth Koustrup

    "Prisoner of My Own", by Luka Svetic, from Slovenia

    Luka Svetic / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "In this day and age we are never truly alone, or are we? Technology enables us to talk, connect, buy, see places we've never been at, and share our thoughts with a single touch of a button. It seems like we're connected 24/7, and yet sometimes it feels like no other generation was as disconnected as we are." – Luka Svetic

    "Reticence", by Mara Gajic, from Canada

    Mara Gajic / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Woman seated (surrounded by soil) with a rose bush and watering can." – Mara Gajic

    "What Is Beauty", by Nolita Sinayhakh, from South Africa

    Nolita Sinayhakh / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "I Can't Get Enough", by Qiong Yao, from China

    Qiong Yao / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "I am a 'millennial' myself. In China this not only means that I grew up with all the technology that surrounds us, but it also means that I belong to the first generation that grew up with all the material pleasures available, like they have been available in the Western world for so long. This photo is from a series I completed in October 2015 about how I and my generation deal with the temptations that surround us: food, drinks, beauty care, computer games, and social media. While indulging in these pleasures, the Shiva-like multiple arms forebode an uneasy change in our paths; but until that happens...: 'I can't get enough'."

    "Social Smile", by Sarah-Jayne Webb, from the UK

    Sarah-Jayne Webb / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "Utopia", by Tena Gibson, from the UK

    Tena Gibson / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "I began to think about how we ‘brand ourselves’ online and thought about implementing this idea in to my photography. I thought of social media as an addiction. I thought about different codes and social media icons but eventually came up with the idea of a QR-scannable code link to my website as a way of creating ‘interaction’ through social media, giving my image a deeper meaning overall and reflecting both my own social media addiction and idealism." – Tena Gibson

    "Sunday Stroll", by Thomas Michalczyk, from Germany

    Thomas Michalczyk / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    "A strange thought, to be told by others who you are…

 This picture was drawn in our minds after many hours of research.
 All the information we found about millennials didn’t match our self-conception. Looking at research papers, infographics, and colourful pie charts, we found ourselves confronted with the cliché of a generation, addicted to their smartphones, obsessed by social networks, brand-name products and neo-Biedermeier-esque dreams like owning a house in the countryside in the future.
 So we decided to present the millennials in the way sociologists and other experts see us, but at the same time clarify that we do not agree."

    "What Do You Want to Tell Me With This!?" by Yannic Heintzen, from Germany

    Yannic Heintzen / Student Focus Award / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards


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