The EyeEm Photographer of the Year Award is one of the most coveted accolades in photography. This year, the competition drew in over 100,000 photographers from every corner of the globe, and they submitted more than 700,000 photos.
EyeEm selects winners in nine different categories and chooses one lucky Photographer of the Year for best overall. In addition to bragging rights, the award comes with a Sony Alpha camera, the title of EyeEm ambassador for 2019, and a trip to Berlin Photo Week.
This year’s winning photo was taken by Aiyush Pachnanda, a 21-year-old photojournalism student at the University of South Wales.
Pachnanda’s portfolio highlights his interest in documenting subcultures, nightlife, and urban landscapes. Much of his work also focuses on people with tattoos. In an interview with the British Journal of Photography, Pachnanda said tattoos are an interesting form of art and that finds that permanent commitment to a look beautiful.
His winning photo is a striking portrait of a tattooed man gazing into the lens while a grey building towers over him in the background. This photo is proof that it’s the photographer and not the equipment that makes the image—it was taken on a smartphone. Pachnanda says it’s important that photographers never leave home without a camera, and he often uses a point-and-shoot.
We spoke with Pachnanda via email to pick his brain about his big win, his career as a photographer, and his dreams for the future.
Format Magazine: How’d you first get started in photography?
Aiyush Pachnanda: I studied photography in college as one of my courses. When I left college, I did an apprenticeship in social media marketing and I hated everything about it. My only creative outlet from the drudgery of the 9-5 world was to take photographs. I used to go out on my lunch break and take as many photos as I could.
What do you like about photography?
I like being able to capture a moment. I feel as though I can freeze time with a button, and I find beauty within that.
What do your parents do for a living? And were they supportive about you pursuing photography as a career?
My dad works in IT and my mum works in a home office. They were initially skeptical about my chosen career but I took the time to prove to them and myself that I could do it.
How long until you’ve finished your education?
I am currently in my last year of university. It feels odd not having another stage of education to be funneled into but I am really looking forward to it.
What does winning this award mean to you?
I have been asked this a lot recently and I think the simple answer is that it means a great deal but only increases my appetite for further success. One bite of the apple is not enough.
Do you enter a lot of contests?
I have entered the EyeEm photography competition every year since 2015 when I initially joined the app. I don’t enter that many because I don’t really know of too many others with the same amount of prestige but I would, of course, be open to the idea.
How’d you choose the photo to enter in the contest?
It’s more second nature than anything else. I have acquired a good eye for those kinds of tasks over the last couple of years and I know what looks good in my opinion.
What have been some other highlights of your career so far?
I recently shot a phone campaign which was in partnership with EyeEm for the release of the Honor 10 phone and funnily enough, the winning photo in the EyeEm awards was taken on the phone. I also have a lot of personal projects that I am very proud of that I am working on over the next few months, such as documenting my life as a student in Cardiff.
What’s your dream job?
A dream job would be to live comfortably taking photos. I would love to shoot for Vogue or even Time Magazine and I really admire the work of Daniel Arnold. I would love to have a G&T with him.
Do you have any tips for photographers who are just starting out?
Never leave the house without a camera.
Last year, Pachnanda did an interview with Ffoton where he discussed how he first got into shooting subcultures, experimented with shooting drunk people, and discovered a group of tattoo models in London. You can listen to that interview here. For more of Pachnanda’s work, check out EyeEm’s video here.
EyeEm is a global photography community and marketplace. It has 20 million creators that it connects with brands to license images and facilitate photo shoots.
Images courtesy Aiyush Pachnanda