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D&AD: Shoot Yourself

The search is on for the definitive picture of generation next

The D&AD Student Awards and Dazed are launching a competition to unearth the definitive portrait of contemporary youth. The requirements are simple: capture an image that is as timely as it is timeless, as capable of provoking thought today as it will be in decades to come. Creating that key image has never been more difficult thanks to a climate of pointing, clicking and scrolling, but we believe it is still possible. We’re looking for something that challenges what is known, that embodies the innovative attitude and outlook of youth today. The deadline is March 20; here are our three handpicked judges.

Firstly, Dazed Digital creative director and HERO magazine founder James West, who has been instrumental in launching the careers of countless photographers and has an unbeatable eye for what’s on point. Alongside him is Dazed photographic producer Lauren Ford, who works with the world’s big-name photographers to make the magazine’s shoots happen. “For me, the best portraits are when you’ve caught somebody off guard and at ease,” she says. “Anyone can take a photo, but a great portrait photographer is able to make their subject relax and feel comfortable enough to expose their real self.”

Finally, esteemed photographer Niall O’Brien, who went from unknown to the final word in editorial images thanks to his work with Dazed. Now the preferred snapper for Alexander McQueen, O’Brien is lauded for his instinctive style, which reflects an insatiable impulse to record the singular atmosphere of fleeting moments. “I use photography as a tool to show people what I have experienced,” he says, “not what I can do with the camera, although understanding light is important. There can be a big mix-up between technical ability and sensitivity for the medium. To connect with someone while using photography is a skill in itself. I always look out for this.”

When judging the competition he’ll seek “honesty and a connection between the photographer and the sitter, even if it is a subtle indication where we just feel the moment in some way.” The image on this page, taken from his series Porn Hurts Everyone, demonstrates that feeling admirably.

Open now for submissions until 20 March. Enter HERE. The selected overall winner will receive £2000 whilst winning entrants will have their work showcased on D&AD's platforms as well as in Dazed & Confused and on Dazed Digital.

Shortlisted submissions will be exhibited at:
30a Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DP
11 July 2013
D&AD / Dazed Photography Exhibition 'Create A Portrait of Contemporary Youth' - sponsored by MetroImaging

Photography Niall O’Brien

Photographic producer Lauren Ford picks some of her favourite images from Dazed.