Portfolio: Andi Schmied

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It's just a typical teenage vignette: a girl sits in a shopping mall slurping on a soft drink before heading off on a date. No matter that the subject, Tel Aviv octogenarian Rosi Star, is, in fact, more than a few years out of school. She had, as photographer Andi Schmied discovered, youth to burn. "One of my favourite things she said to me was how annoying her grandchildren were. She said they were always calling her, and how did they think she had time [to speak] to them?"

Indeed, age stereotypes are upturned throughout Schmied's playful photo series, Tel Aviv Grannies, for which the London-based Hungarian photographer, 26, has just been named one of five winners in the first annual Young Photographers' Competition held by east London's Daniel Blau Gallery.

The project began in 2010, when Schmied went to Tel Aviv on a student-exchange programme. There, she found herself struck by the gusto of the Israeli city's pensioners, from their bold dress and make-up to a penchant for going out on the town.

And so she started photographing them with her dad's 1980s Minolta camera, using the flash even during the day to play up her subjects' characterfulness – though their carefree demeanours belie turbulent histories, with many of the older population, such as Austrian-born Star, having arrived in Tel Aviv from Europe in the shadow of war. In this way, Schmied believes her series captures a generation living "a lost childhood". Lost and now thankfully returned.

'Tel Aviv Grannies' is showing as part of '5 Under 30' at the Daniel Blau Gallery from 5 to 31 July (danielblau.com).