A photograph of a 53-year-old naked man, sitting on a child's chair, beat out 15,000 other entries from across the world in the Art of Photography competition in San Diego this weekend.
"Sleepover" by Martine Fougeron, fourth place
"Holiday" by Frank Herfort, Leipzig, Germany
"Street Scene, Jaipur, India," Ed Freeman, Los Angeles, honorable mention
"A Stranger 53 Year Old," Benoit Paillé, Montréal, Canada, first place
"Circus Flora: Giovanni Zoppe," Scott Raffe, Tulsa, United States
"Connemara Pony Show Judging, Ireland, 2007," Josef Tornick, Santa Fe, United States, honorable mention
"Sukiyaki Western 1," Walter Lockwood, Los Angeles, third place
"Bush plays Rubix," Alison Jackson, London, honorable mention
"From the series 'Bureaucratics': India-17," Jan Banning, Utrecht, Netherlands, second place.
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Benoit Paille, who made the unusual portrait, met the man on the street one day. Paille, who often asks elderly strangers if he can photograph them, was invited to the fellow's home. To his surprise, the man, who had recently lost his mother, chose to express his loneliness by removing his clothes and crouching on a tiny chair.
"It is a remarkable photograph in its piercing representation of an acute and specific human state," explains the show's sole judge, Charlotte Cotton, the head of the photography department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Cotton, who sifted through thousands of photos by amateurs and professionals alike, says she was searching for photos that capture the wonder of the world — whether through connections with strangers or kin. Another one of Cotton's favorites was Martine Fougeron's photograph of her teen sons and their friends, reclining on colorful bean bags.
"What I love about it," says Cotton, over the phone after the show, "is that she has a digital maturity, but there's also that sense of someone taking out the camera for the first time, this freshness."
She calls the fourth-place winner, "one of the best biographical stories that photography has crafted in the 2000s." See if you agree, by exploring more of Fougeron's Tete a Tete project here.
The Art of Photography exhibit, featuring the submissions, is open until Nov. 1.