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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.

Dylan Collard, UK

Dylan Collard, UK

‘Forever Boys: Peter Simpson’
(OPEN CATEGORY)
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.

Tamas Schild, Hungary

Tamas Schild, Hungary

'A mother's a mother'
('SEEING BEAUTY' CATEGORY)
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.

Delphine Blast, France

Delphine Blast, France

‘Laura Cristina Zarta, Bogotá’
('SEEING BEAUTY' CATEGORY)
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.

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Alexey Furman, Ukraine

Alexey Furman, Ukraine

'Inside the Trade Union building, Odessa'
(OPEN CATEGORY)
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.

Laura Liverani, Italy

Laura Liverani, Italy

'Japan Pom Pom, Tokyo'
('SEEING BEAUTY' CATEGORY)
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.

Bill Gekas, Australia

Bill Gekas, Australia

‘Storm Girl’
(OPEN CATEGORY)
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.

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Ian Pettigrew, Canada

Ian Pettigrew, Canada

‘Bailey’
('SEEING BEAUTY' CATEGORY)
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.

Lotta Van Droom, Ireland

Lotta Van Droom, Ireland

‘Nair’
('SEEING BEAUTY' CATEGORY)
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.

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