America’s Senft Twins Capture Top Photography Prize for Second Time

La fotografia prima classificata

Monte-Carlo, Monaco (3 September 2012). In a spectacular showing, Jason and Justin Senft, American artists and identical twins have won “Best of Show” for an unprecedented second time in the Fédération Mondiale du Cirque’s annual photography contest. Jason and Justin Senft’s idyllic “Norman Rockwellesque” photograph features a talented circus elephant playfully painting a bright red heart onto an artist’s canvas while a circus clown looks on with amazement. The Senft’s winning image, which portrays the contest theme “Circus: The Art of Happiness”, was selected by Federation Honorary President H.S.H. Princess Stephanie of Monaco from twelve finalists chosen by an international panel of judges.
On the heels of winning the “Best of Show” photograph last year, Jason and Justin were excited to take on the challenge of creatively featuring an elephant in one of their photographs again this year. The concept for their winning photograph was inspired by elephants in Thailand who are trained to paint on canvas, each developing its own style. The photograph, featuring Annette the elephant, was a cooperative effort with elephant owners Franklyn and Gayle Murray, circus clown Luis “Lucho” Carballo and Ian Garden Jr., performance director of Piccadilly Circus.
“We are inspired by the rich visual history of the circus, in particular, the traditional circus, under a canvas Big Top,” say the Senfts, “and we hope to capture and convey the beauty and excitement that happens when the circus comes to town.”
Jason and Justin Senft demonstrate an incredible ability to capture magical moments at the circus. This wonderful talent is evident in their three additional winning photographs. Their second photograph captures circus clown, Barry “Grandma” Lubin, flying around the ring of the Big Apple Circus while holding seven-year-old Ethan Metzger, a delighted youngster selected from the audience of “Dance On!” in New York. Taken at John Ringling North II’s Kelly Miller Circus, the Senft’s third photograph features an elated five-year-old, Grania Greene, receiving a special heart-shaped balloon from circus clown Steve
Copeland. The photograph evokes the essence of ringmaster John Moss’ closing line of the show: “The circus never leaves town if you keep it in your heart.” The Senft’s fourth photograph depicts the art of face painting, a popular attraction on the circus midway. Circus performer, Jose Bermudez, paints a smile on the face of nine-year-old Keyan as he admires his reflection in a mirror before a performance of Winchester Circus in Virginia.
Two other American photographers also are among the winners. Amanda Stevens (Glen Rock, New Jersey) captured seven year old Matthew Iverson dressed in the costume of his father Jonathan Lee Iverson, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s renowned Ringmaster. Sandy Weber (Highland Park, Illinois) photographed Greg DeSanto, now Executive Director of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in a nostalgic visit to Ringling Bros.’ former winter quarters at Venice Arena, Florida where he created and performed for 13 years.
European photographers also placed well in this year’s contest. Bruno Maria Campagna (Appiano Gentile, Italy), also a winner in the 2011 photography contest, features the artistic bicycle act from Cirque du Soleil’s “Saltimbanco”, performed in Milan, Italy. Two German photographers, Stefan Gierisch (Langen) and Stefan Nolte (Osthofen), submitted winning images. Mr. Gierisch’s photo features Spanish clown José Michel, performing a very lively water entree together with his partners at La Grande Fête Lilloise du Cirque, in Lille, France. Mr. Nolte captured world-famous Italian clown David Larible (dubbed “the Clown of Clowns” by legendary New York critic Clive Barnes) in the ring of Circus Roncalli of Germany in a moment of pure circus bliss.
The winning photograph of Rudolf Árpád Kozsák, (Debrecen, Hungary) features three unusual and whimsical clowns during “French cultural days” in Budapest. Patrick Prévost (Olivet, France) submitted a winning shot of the unbounded joy and talent of seventh-generation circus performer, clown and daredevil Bello Nock at the 35th Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo, where Bello won the prestigious Golden Clown.
The final winner is Mr. Sanjoy Bhattacharya (Kalkata, India), who captured a lighthearted encounter between a costumed horse and clown, bringing laughter and appreciation to the audience during a “Mask Dance” performance unique to India.
A total of 116 amateur and professional photographers from 35 countries this year participated in the contest. Entries were received from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand in Asia and Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico in Latin America. In Europe, photographers from Macedonia and Slovenia participated for this first time. Numerous photos also were submitted by contestants from India, Pakistan and Turkey.
The 2012 international jury comprised circus historians Greg Parkinson (USA), Mark St. Leon (Australia), Julio Revolledo Cárdenas (Mexico), and Charles Ricketts (South Africa).
The twelve winning images will be exhibited in January 2013 during the 37th Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo. Wall calendars featuring the winning photographs may be purchased at www.oaba.org for residents of North America and in the Federation’s Boutique at www.circusfederation.org for other world regions beginning in early October 2012.
Fédération Mondiale du Cirque’s

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