Young photographer wins $30k prize

Sarah Choo with one of her works. She beat prominent names to bag Singapore's richest photography award.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's richest photography award, Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu 2013, has a surprise winner.

Sarah Choo, 23, beat other contenders - some of whom were prominent names - including independent photographer Darren Soh, 37, and Beijing-based former Straits Times correspondent Sim Chi Yin, 34, to win the top cash prize of $30,000.

A surprised Choo said she "did not expect the award at all".

"I felt I am very young and working towards developing my craft. I felt this was a good opportunity to show my work which is why I submitted my portfolio of 60 works," she said.

Choo was chosen from among eight shortlisted photographers by a five-member jury led by independent French curator of photography, Madame Agnes de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, who said she was looking for something of "international standards". For her, all three photographers' works stood out.

"Yet, what made Sarah's works slightly more distinctive, was the way she deals with very intimate and inner issues. This is... perhaps one of the most difficult things to achieve when it comes to photography. Sarah has been able to photographically express these inner feelings with great sensitivity and refinement," she said.

Soh and Sim bagged the Discernment Award, which comes with a cash prize of $8,000.

Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh gave away the awards at Chan Hampe Galleries at Raffles Hotel.

Choo, a graduate of Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media, leaves soon for London to pursue a master's in fine art at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art on a Ministry of Education scholarship.

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