A PICTURE OF INDEPENDENCE

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The Independent Culture
LAST SUMMER the Independent on Sunday and First Direct, the UK's premier 24-hour telephone bank, launched one of Europe's most generous photographic competitions, with a first prize of pounds 10,000. Inspired by the paper's name, and First Direct's unconventional and flexible approach to banking, the theme of this black- and-white competition was "independence", and it was open to both professionals and amateurs.

The response was extraordinary - not only because of the number of entrants but, more importantly, the extremely high standard of the pictures. Indeed, the judges were so impressed that they increased the numbers of adult runners up from 20 to 43 (sadly we can only have space to show a few of them over these four pages). The entries included many humorous and thought-provoking images, showing a love of eccentricity and the desire to be different. There were also sensitive and emotive pictures revealing concern for people whose independence is restricted by health or society. Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to all the winners.

The `Independent on Sunday' / First Direct Black and White Photographic Award pictures, including the runners-up, can be viewed in the reception area of the Barbican Centre, London, until 12 April. The winning photographs can also be seen individually in the backs of 68 London taxis, in Britain's first 24-hour moving photo exhibition.

WINNER, ADULT CHRIS SIMPSON Professional photographer Prize: pounds 10,000 Age: 46

As part of a personal project, Chris shot this photograph in May 1997 from the top of a Land Rover while in Madagascar. The picture has a strong symbolic meaning for him. After Chris returned from this trip, he and his wife separated. He says, "I saw the picture as my two children walking into the great unknown"

SECOND PLACE, ADULT ELKE MEITZEL Photography student, University of Westminster Prize: pounds 3,000 Age: 29

August 1997, Independence Day celebrations in northern Pakistan. Meitzel says the photograph "reflects the people's pride and happiness in their independence"

THIRD PLACE, ADULT VICKI COUCHMAN Professional photographer and author Prize: pounds 1,000 Age: 28

August 1997, Bournemouth's nudist beach. Couchman says, "the picture represents the freedom to be completely relaxed, natural and independent from inhibitions" WINNER, 11 to 17-YEAR-OLDS SEBASTIAN BARNES-DACEY Student at Collingham GCSE Department, London Prize: personal computer Age: 15

Shot at Hyde Park in winter 1997, Sebastian says this photograph of a lone musician is about "finding fulfilment in what is there already"WINNER, 11 to 17-YEAR-OLDS SEBASTIAN BARNES-DACEY Student at Collingham GCSE Department, London Prize: personal computer Age: 15

Shot at Hyde Park in winter 1997, Sebastian says this photograph of a lone musician is about "finding fulfilment in what is there already"

WINNER, 11 to 17-YEAR-OLDS SEBASTIAN BARNES-DACEY Student at Collingham GCSE Department, London Prize: personal computer Age: 15

Shot at Hyde Park in winter 1997, Sebastian says this photograph of a lone musician is about "finding fulfilment in what is there already"

RUNNER UP, ADULT DAVID AHMED Professional photographer Age: 31

A second photograph taken during last year's Independence Day celebrations in Pakistan

RUNNER UP, ADULT D NORRIS Photographer

This was one of the only "staged" photographs to catch the judges eyes. It was particularly commended for its humour

RUNNER UP, ADULT SOPHIA EVANS Professional photographer Age: 30

Sophia shot this picture in July last year while at Pearl Lagoon in Nicaragua WINNER, PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN HAYLEY JOHNSON Pupil at St Paul's Primary School, Paddington, London Prize: personal computer Age: eight

Hayley's class was taught photography for a project on light. They processed and developed their own film. Helen Ridding, head teacher, says the project allowed children to "show their individuality and generate the spirit of independence"

RUNNER UP, 11 TO 17-YEAR-OLDS REBECCA SWINDELL Student at Worcester Sixth Form College Age: 17

This picture (above) was taken by Rebecca, an A-level photography student, specifically to enter in the competition. It shows a friend, Jenny Cave, curled up in a box

RUNNER UP, ADULT SELBY McCREERY Professional photographer Age: 32

Elbow the fox terrier "Jumping for Joy" at Win Green, Wiltshire

RUNNER UP, ADULT DAVID McGEE Photography student at Nottingham Trent University Age: 31

David took this picture last March at the home ground of football team Slavia Prague. It is part of series he has been compiling on crowds at soccer matches

RUNNER UP, PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN Rebecca Tyson Pupil at Askam Village School, Askam-in-Furness, Cumbria Age: nine

Rebecca's great-aunt Lillian uses her walking stick to turn on the heating

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