In Awards and Achievements, Department of Design

Borja’s winning piece “Fish Out of Water” was inspired by her experience adjusting to a new culture

Fish out of Water (Silvia Borja)

Silvia Borja — a photography student in the BYU Department of Design — was recently announced as a winner of the Communication Arts Annual International Photography Competition. Her winning piece “Fish Out of Water” represents different emotions related to social and cultural isolation we all experience in different stages of our lives.

“I was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Originally, I got the idea [for Fish Out of Water] when I first moved to the U.S.,” said Borja. “I wanted to portray how I was feeling trying to adjust to a new culture being away from home.”

Borja was encouraged by classmates and BYU film and photography professor Robert Machoian to apply to the competition. She had never applied to a competition up until this point and was completely stunned when she learned that her image was preselected and went on to win best in category for student work.

Communication Arts is a professional journal for designers, art directors, design firms, corporate design departments, agencies, illustrators, photographers and anyone else involved in visual communications. It works to promote the highest professional standards for each field.

The Communication Arts 61st Annual International Photography Competition received 2,511 global entries and only 121 winners were chosen by a jury of creative professionals, making it one of the most exclusive and prestigious major photography competitions. Specifically, the criteria focused on creative excellence and quality of execution in winning photographs. Borja was one of only eight students selected as a winner.

“I honestly wanted to create a picture that would force the viewer to look beyond the picture, but also have it be a little ridiculous,” said Borja. “The original idea was having the model wear a fish mask because I thought it would be funny. However, when we started shooting, the mask I bought didn’t work out, so we tried it without it. It ended up looking better than expected.”

The winning projects will be reproduced and displayed in the July 2020 issue of Communication Arts, both in print and digital editions. More than 25,000 copies of the issue will be distributed worldwide ensuring important exposure to the creators and publishers of these award-winning images.

“I think everyone has felt like a fish out of water at some point in their lives,” remarked Borja. “I think it’s okay to feel that way — most of us do anyway.”

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