Won the next big photographer Audi A1 competition, January 2011.

A one-of-a-kind photography competition to celebrate the Audi A1’s arrival

‘Find the ‘A’ in South Africa, and photograph it in a visually arresting and impacting way that reflects the richness and diversity that make up South Africa’. This challenge, set by Audi as part of the Audi A1 launch, saw Mzansi’s up-and-coming photographers rise to the occasion.

Part of the ‘next big Audi’ campaign, this photography competition aimed to uncover the ‘next big photographer’, a young creative who could deliver photographs that echoed the Vorsprung sentiment. The images had to be fresh, distinct, dynamic and out-of-the-box, much like the Audi A1.

“We were looking for work where it was evident that the photographers had made an effort to get out and find the ‘A’ in South Africa, and the winning photographs undoubtedly met this criterion. We didn’t uncover one, but five photographers to watch,” says Tom Prentice, Account Director at Ogilvy Johannesburg, Audi South Africa’s advertising agency.

Take a look at the 15 winning photos, which were exhibited in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg earlier this year. Then read a bit more about the photographers and the stories behind the photos. You may just be inspired to start looking at the world around you from a different angle.

Marijke Willems won 9 out of 15.

Art with the click of a button

“I never thought about it as a competition, but saw it as a challenge, creating art with the click of a button!” says Marijke Willems, a photographer from Johannesburg. In fact, she was so inspired that she roped in a designer friend and set off on a road trip to find the ‘A’ in South Africa. This journey took them from Johannesburg all the way to Knysna via Kimberley and included a return trip via Bloemfontein – with stops everywhere in between.

“I studied and worked in the Netherlands for more than four years and never really noticed – and appreciated – South Africa's beauty. Through my participation in the challenge, I wanted to showcase South Africa, highlighting everything it has to offer. We experienced and saw so many things – every one of the road trip photographs has a behind-the-scenes story to tell,” she mentions.

Her ostrich photo is a point in case. Marijke put her fears aside and got dangerously close to a number of ostriches in Oudtshoorn before getting the perfect shot (her friend distracted the ostriches while Marijke did her thing). Buying into Marijke’s quest, this friend also tirelessly jumped for joy on Wilderness’ beach so she could capture the ‘A’ formed by her legs.

They made the most of every opportunity – even getting lost on a deserted gravel road near Kimberley, resulted in her winning photo of a farm gate. And don’t forget about her ‘shipwrecked’ shot in Knysna, the wind mill in Groot Brak river, the puddle image with a roof structure’s reflection, taken at Santarama Miniland (?) in Johannesburg or the merry-go-round somewhere in a Bloemfontein park. “A not-too-friendly, barking dog across the park was partly responsible for the merry-go-round’s unusual angle,” she laughs.

You also can’t help but be amused when she relates how she lay on the ground, trying to take a photo while the skateboarder in her skate park photo, showed off his best moves. He fell a few times, was exhausted and even limped a bit, but ever the photographer, she was just “ecstatic about the great shots!”
Her winning photos may each be different, but they’re united by her conceptual, sensitive and art-inspired approach to photography, and of course, like all the winning images they’re proudly South African.