24-year-old Viktor Johansson won the Google Photography Prize 2012 for his photos of elite diver Christofer Eskilsson.
“I never thought I’d win,” Johansson said to DN.se. A student of photojournalism at Biskops-Arnö, Johansson won in competition with 20,000 students from 146 countries. He submitted his photos after a teacher told him about the competition.
“I didn’t think more about it until I received a mail that I was picked among the 100 best," he said. "That was cool, because all in the top hundred were given a new phone, and I had an old one that wasn’t very good. Then I didn’t think I’d hear more, but I received a mail that I was among the top ten.”
Johansson received that mail a week and a half before his photos were to be shown at The Saatchi Gallery in London, which was the prize for being in the top ten. But Johansson still didn’t have any hopes of winning: “I went into the gallery with my sister, and we both thought a Chinese photographer would take home the prize. Then they announced on the loudspeakers that we were going to gather in the big room, where some Google directors were talking.” After a while, gallery director Nigel Hurst came up and announced Johansson was the winner.
“I felt my blood rush. I never thought I’d win; Nigel Hurt said I looked like a rabbit being pulled out of a hat, so I guess I must’ve looked pretty surprised.”
According to the jury, Johansson’s photos are unexpected and captivating. He explained that he is trying to find new angles, not usually seen. “There are always interesting things to see from a ground level or a few feet above the motifs you are photographing," he said. "There’s a strong mark of identification in those angles and not everyone will throw themselves to the bottom of a pool when two hands surface from the water.”
As a winner, Johansson will be able to pick a photographer or instructor and travel with that person for a week to a destination of choice anywhere in the world. Johansson hasn’t chosen where he wants to go, or with whom. “I will use the weekend to think, it’s all about finding someone who’s willing and who’s a good instructor,” he said.
Victor Johansson’s photos are on exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London April 25 through July 22.