2017 Contest winners and finalists

So here there are. The winners and finalists from this years Urban Street Diving Contest in cooperation with RAW Streetphoto Gallery Rotterdam. 


1st Nei Valente (New York, USA)

Nei Valente is a 27 year old Brazilian street photographer and graphic designer currently living in NYC. He believes that photography is a great way to register culture and social contexts, or at least part of it. He always tries to make his shots tell a story and often supports them with a concrete narrative depending on the series. He started shooting street photography last year, as exploring the city for hours was already part of his routine.

The photos presented on Urban Street Diving Contest 2017 are part of his series Fifth Avenue. In this series, Valente focuses on the diverse group of people who come to explore this famous avenue in NYC. He thinks that the mix of business people, fashion brands shoppers, tourists and workers makes the avenue a great place to create interesting shots.

To shoot this series he used his small Sony RX100 IV and shot most of the photos during his lunch time. The direct sun light combined with the reflections on the tall buildings creates the intensity he needs for the high contrast and saturated series of photos

All photos shot on fifth avenue in New York City between 50th and 60th.


2nd Michael Kowalczyk (New York, USA)

“My name is Michael Kowalczyk. I am a photographer and work as Teaching Assistant in the International Center of Photography School in New York City. I help students to improve their knowledge and skills in photography. My education and professional working background is in communications, multimedia and instructional media design.

I like to photograph and show persons in thoughtful, introverted moments or in situations in which they interact and communicate, especially using body language. Other than that I am interested to make photograph in environmental conditions which affect the mood and dynamics in peoples routines, for example during rain or snowfall. I feel that by concentrating on such photographs I can create a body of work that will stay comprehensible and relevant in the times to come.

“Rain Rush” is a series of nine images and the result of a two hour shoot under constant rain at a street crossing nearby Grand Central Terminal Station in New York City. Daylight was long gone, people were rolling up their coat-collars and holding onto umbrellas while rushing towards the next safe-place under a roof. I decided to capture some of that atmosphere. My camera and lens choice turned out to be pretty limiting in terms of manual controls but at the end it helped me a lot to create a unified looking image series. I shot with a tiny Pentax-Q camera body in bold black and white mode. The lens was the plastic 09 Mount-Shield-Lens. It has a field of view around 50mm (ff. equiv.), fixed aperture (f/9) and acceptable dof-sharpness between 0,3m and 2m. The capture process included a lot of trial to find a usable balance between distance, timing and panning. Occasional use of on-board flash allowed me to illuminate some of the peoples faces. I made around 240 shots and got pretty wet shoes doing so. The camera started to malfunction and stopped working entirely shortly after. I though that was it. Luckily it gave me another chance after resting on the shelve for 7 days.

Looking back I found making photograph with a confined set of camera and lens settings to be challenging and liberating at the same time. Stop setting and start photographing 😉 ”

All photos were shot at the crossing at Madison Ave East and 42nd Street, New York City, USA


3rd Max Gor (London, GB)

“I started photography as a hobby a while a go, at that time it did not have any special purpose apart from giving me a reason for getting out from my home. I was photographing absolutely everything – public events, animals, strangers, flowers, buildings and aircrafts, absolutely anything that can be photographed. In one day I could make few hundred shots, and as you can guess, at the end all of them were ended up in rubbish bin, but my time was well spent and I was enjoying it enormously. After going through shooting whatever I could I realized that London provides infinitive possibilities for street photography, it is so vivid, so dynamic, so special city in many ways.

Last couple of years I only shooting streets and a bit of black and white city architecture. I think this kind of specialization helped to developed my skills to another level, it gave some purpose to what I am doing – now I am not going shooting just because I need a reason to go out, I became so passionate about street photography, now I am going shooting when I feel a hunger for the process itself. When I am shooting streets to start from I am looking for something simple – interesting light, well known cliche, juxtaposition, someone with interesting appearance or doing something unusual, something that has some sort of uniqueness. Protests and marches are very good places for getting confidence in street shooting. In London, if you behave wisely, those events are pretty safe, a lot of things are going on, people are very keen to be photographed, and you feel like you are in right place doing right things.

When I heard about London taxi protest at Bank Junction I have got very excited – I have not seen anything like that before and was hoping to get something unique out of it. When I arrived at Bank Station I was very disappointed with the weather, it was cold and raining and I wanted to go home. Then I realised that most of the time I was shooting when light is good and recalled a few great street shots made in rainy weather and decided to stay. Nearest Boots store sold me an umbrella which I used to cover my camera and a bit of myself. I was very glad that decided to stay – after some time it started snowing! Bad weather turned out to be playing nicely on my side, snow with rain added a lot of tension and drama to my shots and I think this is why I have got such interesting set.”

All shots were taken nearby Bank Junction, London, GB.



Sofie Gheysens (Belgium)

“I’m intrigued by people and I love to walk around in other people’s life. Photography is a way to communicate with the persons I meet. It is my way to move around. I love traveling by myself, because very interesting people with unique stories cross my path. I spent one month in Barcelona without any plans. Every time I met someone, I spent a day in their life, photographing their galaxy.

This man is Leonardo. What I learn about the people I photograph is personal and I try to put that in my pictures. We moved around in the metro, where he plays his music. Outside we stayed in the Raval area, where he lives.”

All photos were taken at the metro and on the streets near La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain.


Philippe Blayo (France)

“I’m a self-taught photographer. As a psychologist, my daily life is made of human resources. People are an inexhaustible source of surprises. I walk the streets with curiosity to capture what drives us to live, to love, to defend ourselves. My work is a contemporary photography that explores urban territories with or without people inside. Anyway, my photographs are anyway influenced by humanities.

This series has been realized in February 2017 In the city of Nice, France. I wanted a very strange atmosphere in this series due to the terrible terrorist attacks in this city 7 months before. It was the first carnival since those sad events and the mood was so weird with security checks everywhere. So maybe this carnival was a bit darker than expected. I wanted to introduce strangeness, fear and questionings in my series. My interpretation of diving is much more about introspection than showing clear and straight to the point images.”


Roy Rozanski (Israel)

“My name is Roy Rozanski (38). I am an aspiring street photographer for the past couple of years. Born and raised in Israel. My main “hunting ground” is Tel Aviv, which possessed a highly versatile street life packed full of different vibes, sounds and smells. This fact is impressive on its own especially for such a small city in comparison to some other big metropolis.

I am influenced and inspired by great photographers such as Martin Parr and Elliott Erwitt and I try my best to incorporate their style into my own photography. I am always looking to represent the street life through my own looking glass. In my personal photographic way I try to capture the light and motion at its colorful way. I don’t care much for compositional rules, leading lines and the rule of thirds. I am only interested in capturing a story or emotion in my shots.

In this project I tried to capture body parts in motion at the urban life. All shots were taken along the beaches of Tel Aviv.”


Zisis Kardianos (Greece)

Zisis Kardianos (b. 1962, Zakynthos) has been active as a street and documentary photographer since 1985, working independently as well as on self-assigned projects. He works in series many of which have been published in various national and international magazines. He has studied sociology and photography in the FOCUS school of Athens. In 2005 he commenced work on his long term photo-essay about his native island. The essay was self-published in a book in 2012 under the title “A Sense of Place”. His work has been presented in Greece and abroad in various solo and group exhibitions. Another of his long term and still on-going personal project titled “Off Season” was presented in the Athens Photo Festival in 2012. In 2016 he participated in the Brussels SPF where his series “In Limbo” was honored with the People’s Award. He is a founding member of the international photographers’ collective BURN MY EYE, an associate member of the BULB collective and a contributing photographer in Millennium Images photo agency.

The series was shot In Patras during the biggest carnival of Greece and one of the biggest in Europe. I wanted to capture something of the vibrancy and exuberance of the event, utilizing techniques such as shutter drag and camera shake while at the same time I was opting for wide, multilayered compositions. The entire series was shot during four hours within a radius of about 500 metres. In the final edit of ten photographs, I intentionally included some quieter images for flow and punctuation.


Marco Bollaart (Netherlands)

“I’m Marco Bollaart and have a passion for streetphotography. I like to wander the streets not knowing what to expect and come home with great pictures you can’t predict in advance.

For the contest I sent in a serie of the Rotterdam Central Station area. This is a great area for streetphotography, with many opportunities. Although it’s one location, I’ve tried to make my serie as divers as possible. Hope you like it.”

All shots were taken in and around Central Station Rotterdam, Netherlands.