South Africa : Hennie Lombard Wins Ultimate Photography Competition

Hennie Lombard, (33), a parliamentary researcher from Sea Point, will be winging his way to Barcelona camera in hand after winning the Continuum Architects / WesBank Photography Competition in Johannesburg last night. One of 10 finalists in a competition that attracted more than 350 entrants from all walks of life, Lombard's first prize includes flights and accommodation for two. Each of the remaining nine finalists took home a cash prize of R1500.

The inspiration for the competition was one of the country's most iconic architectural masterpieces - the new WesBank head office in Fairland, Johannesburg. The winning photograph was both natural and simple and showed how the building blended into the environment. There were a number of important artistic elements, including textural depth and the use of contrasts. The photograph also perfectly captured and interpreted the philosophy behind the design which emerged as an interesting mix of African sensibilities and modern elements.

This is exactly what Lombard set out to do. Because he lives in Cape Town, he had as good as decided not to enter. "But then I noticed that one of the weekend opportunities to photograph the building coincided with a business trip. When I realized who the judges were, I knew that the competition was a rare opportunity," he said. The importance attached to growth and transformation as a function of nature and the environment appealed to him. "I did not only want to capture the structure itself, but also how the structure attempts to be an organic part of - and tribute to - its environment. My entry had a strong foreground detail of the natural highveld landscape and flora with the building as an elegant, non-intrusive feature in the middle distance framed against a typical highveld sky."

Lombard, who has no formal photographic training, started taking pictures at the age of 11. He has developed and matured thanks to his personal photographic exploration and support from family members who are also keen amateur photographers.

"The standard of the finalists' entries was high in terms of technical ability and creative vision," explains judge David Randel, a director of the College of Digital Photography.

This is high praise indeed, considering the calibre of the judges who included Randel, Peter McKenzie (an internationally acclaimed photographer), Doreen Pfeiffer (owner of The Cow Artworks, the only black and white photographic gallery in Gauteng) and Mike Pawley (one of South Africa's leading architectural photographers).

Lombard is counting the days until he leaves on his first trip to Barcelona, one of the world's architectural treasure troves. In the interim, he intends reading up on all the places, experiences and themes he can photograph. "But once I arrive, I will let myself be guided by what I can discover. I will definitely be photographing architecture, landscapes, people and doing evening time-lapse photography."

The finalists were 24 year-old architecture student Andrew Bell, 17 year-old scholar, Thomas De Bruyn, photographers Kim Le Roux, Siphiwe Nkosi, Lourens Uitenweerde and Graeme Williams, 50 year-old product designer John Malan, 33 year-old software developer Sean McLeod and 19 year-old graphic design student Jessica Wedepohl.

WesBank also gave away a main prize of R7 500 and two R2 500 prizes for runners up as part of an internal competition. The money will go towards buying photographic equipment.



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