Our favourite portraits at the Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards 2015

Love, pain, pride – these emotions are written all over the faces at the 7th Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards this year. Kong Wai Yeng, also part of the award’s judging committee, picks her eight favourite portraits


Year after year, the Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards (KLPA) sees a diverse set of photographers, each of whom brings a refreshing take on what they think constitutes the idea of a powerful portrait. This year, on top of the Open category, participants were also given the opportunity to submit entries to the themed ‘Seeing Beauty’ category, in which hundreds of photos provided insights into various cultures’ assumptions of beauty. Here are our favourites across both categories, but do catch the winners as well as the finalists at the exhibition.

KL Photoawards
Photo: Dylan Collard

Dylan Collard, UK

‘Forever Boys: Peter Simpson’
One of the most engaging photos among the 1,500 entries received this year, this photo of Peter Simpson is part of the ‘Forever Boys’ series, which depicts a group of volunteers who have been restoring the steam pumping engines at the Kempton Steam Museum for the last 17 years. ‘Keeps the volunteers young at heart,’ says Collard.
KL International Photoawards 2015: A mother's a mother
Photo: Tamas Schild

Tamas Schild, Hungary

'A mother's a mother'
It’s a sight all too familiar to us: maternal love. The young Roma mother of three, living in a land of prejudice and stereotype, is seen cuddling her first baby girl. It’s heartening to see how Schild turned a clichéd theme into something so pure that resonates universally.
KL International Photoawards 2015: Laura Cristina Zarta, Bogota
Photo: Delphine Blast

Delphine Blast, France

‘Laura Cristina Zarta, Bogotá’
A pop of colour amidst Bogotá’s demure background – Laura’s quinceañera dress signifies her transition from childhood to young womanhood. Quinceañera is the celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America, and it represents a huge social step in Colombia.
KL International Photoawards 2015: Inside the Trade Union building, Odessa
Photo: Alexey Furman

Alexey Furman, Ukraine

'Inside the Trade Union building, Odessa'
As if gripped by a sense of fear or loss, a woman cries inside the Trade Union building as people are let inside after a planned protest in the South-Ukrainian city of Odessa. The photo was taken on May 4, 2014.
KL International Photoawards 2015: Japan Pom Pom, Tokyo
Photo: Laura Liverani

Laura Liverani, Italy

'Japan Pom Pom, Tokyo'
The juxtaposition of colours, the cheery vibe and the big smile etched across these proud faces say it all – these senior cheerleaders are here to stand against age stereotypes. Aged between 65 and 83, these women practise dance moves weekly at a local elderly centre to perform at sports charity events.
KL International Photoawards 2015: Storm Girl
Photo: Bill Gekas

Bill Gekas, Australia

‘Storm Girl’
This little girl is the calm centre of the raging storm behind her. The expression on her face is evocative of the weather – sombre but strangely composed.
KL International Photoawards 2015: Bailey
Photo: Ian Pettigrew

Ian Pettigrew, Canada

Bailey is one of the 60 women whom Pettigrew has photographed for a book called ‘Salty Girls’. All these women suffer from cystic fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease with no cure. Presenting the photos with a scanned look of film, Pettigrew captured these women who bared their bodies to stop the years of body shaming.
KL International Photoawards 2015: Nair
Photo: Lotta Van Droom

Lotta Van Droom, Ireland

It’s so amusing it’s almost cute. Inspired by baroque portrait paintings, Van Droom gives the genre a clever twist by shaping the ‘hair’ on the subject using bath foam. We can’t help but wonder if the title of the photo had anything to do with the hair removal cream.