SKUY’S THE LIMIT
Sunday Times and Lifestyle photographer Alon Skuy was recently awarded the Photographer of the Year (POY) award in the international photojournalism category for a selection of 50 pictures which he submitted to the competition. According to their website, POY is the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism programme and competition in the world. Each year they award the prize to recognise excellence in photojournalism. The award is intended to honour photographers who document their own community, so the majority of their submission must consist of local and/or regional coverage for their publication.
Skuy submitted three photojournalism essays, two of which were used in Lifestyle: a dancer who lost his leg to cancer as a child and went on to become a professional dancer, and the story of the first lion to receive radiation treatment for cancer in a human hospital. The third submission was a news story which covered xenophobia-related violence. He won for all three submissions and six single images.
Sanet Oberholzer asked him about his work:
Is there one picture that stood out for you from the images you submitted?
A portrait of the dancer, Musa Motha. He lost his leg to cancer when he was 11 years old but still went on to become a professional dancer. It’s a portrait of him in mid-flight, lifting his body in perfect symmetry during a dance move, balancing himself on one crutch. It spoke to me about the resilience of the human spirit and the gracefulness of his skill.
Tell us about the subject matter you choose to photograph.
I’ve been covering xenophobia for a long time — 11 or 12 years. It’s always difficult to cover because the results are so devastating for the people involved. Human interest stories are always rewarding to research and shoot. I like documenting local, uplifting stories like the dancer and the first lion to have received radiation treatment for cancer. I like stories that are quirky and interesting. What do you find most rewarding about being a photographer?
Interacting with people from all walks of life and being able to visually express their stories in a way that attempts to capture an essence. I hope my photographs make these stories accessible to a wide audience. What made you decide to become a photographer?
I studied at the Market Photo Workshop and then did an internship at The Star newspaper. From my first day as a photographer, I could relate to the job and I knew from then that I would find it fulfilling as a career path. Do you remember an early photograph you took that really stood out for you?
One of the first assignments I was sent out on was to cover a shack fire in Riverlea. It was very dramatic and so stood out for me as one of my first photographic series. How do you capture the soul of the people you shoot so well?
I often feel I don’t but I try to spend time with the people I photograph in order to understand the circumstances around their journeys and stories.