Wednesday, August 17, 2011

..American Twins Capture Top Photography Prize..

Monte-Carlo, Monaco (17 August 2011) -

A charming and perfectly executed photograph of a circus elephant feeding a clown’s baby taken by Jason and Justin Senft, American artists and identical twins from the United States is the “best of show” winner in the Fédération Mondiale du Cirque’s 2011 photography contest. (See attached) The winning image portraying the “Children and the Circus” contest theme was selected by Federation Honorary President H.S.H. Princess Stephanie of Monaco from a dozen finalists selected by an international panel of judges and will be exhibited in January 2012 during the 36th Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo and featured on the cover of the Federation’s 2012 wall calendar.

Defying the famous show business saying, “Never work with children or animals”, artists Jason and Justin Senft dreamed up the fanciful concept of a circus elephant deftly grasping a baby bottle in its trunk to feed a circus performer’s baby. After several weeks on the road with John Ringling North II’s Kelly Miller Circus and working closely with elephant trainer Armando Loyal, Becky the elephant, circus clown Ryan Combs, and his six-month-old son Nicolas, Messrs. Senft finally realized their vision and captured a magical moment at the circus. The Senfts were also among the winners of the 2010 photography contest with another “Norman Rockwell-esque” circus image.

“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 work collaboratively in many artistic disciplines and their dedication to their circus photography has them going to great lengths, often experiencing the same travel and weather conditions as the performers, to get the perfect image.

Participating in this year’s contest were amateur and professional photographers from 26 countries: Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The 12 winning photos all reflected the theme of “Children and the Circus”, each depicting youngsters enjoying their circus experiences:

Tobias Erber (Germany) has carved out a nearly permanent place in the Federation’s contest with five winning photos appearing during the last three years. This year’s photograph captures a confident showman, four-year-old Chris Rui Knie, presenting an elephant at the May 2011 premiere in Zurich in May and shows the continuing talent of the Knie family dynasty.

Bruno Maria Campagna (Italy) shows off the talents of ten-year-old Giulia Cantarella performing at the Paride Orfei Circus School in Peschiera Borromeo, near Milan, Italy, in May 2010. Ms. Cantarella had completed her third year of studies at the time of the photograph.

Thomas Rocher (Germany) captured the excitement and joy of the circus on the face of a young performer training with LILALU in the summer of 2005 in Munich, Germany. LILALU offers children the opportunity to experience circus arts and perform in a real circus tent during school holidays.

Rick Purdue (United States), a retired zoologist turned circus photographer, captured Giovanni Zoppé as Nino the Clown and son Julien as Nineto “Discussing the Whereabouts of Hats,” while mother Amy Riccio-Zoppé watches from behind the ring at Zoppé - An Italian Family Circus.

Alex Zaprudsky (United States) depicted the continuing tradition of passing circus arts from one generation to the next with his photograph of Adrian Poema of Buenos Aires, Argentina, performing with his family in the Kelly Miller Circus during the 2010 season.

Valerie Berta’s (France) photograph of three-year-old Gigi Greene, daughter of a first generation circus artist, shows the early dedication of artists growing up in the circus. The photograph captures a typical backstage circus scene, this one taken in 2010 at the Kelly Miller Circus.

Fernando Velasco’s (Mexico) shot conveys joy on the face of Leandro Segura, a member of a family trapeze troupe from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The photograph was taken at Circo Atayde Hermanos, in Mexico City in early 2011.

Robert Sanson (United States) captured the youthful artists during the finale of Circus Smirkus’ 2009 show, "Smirkus Ever After." With performers ranging in age from 10 to 18, Circus Smirkus performs a full season, touring the Northeast United States in its own, European-style, one-ring tent.

Katja Stuppia’s (Switzerland) photograph of ten-year-old Ivan Frédéric Knie and his grandfather Fredy Knie Jr., was taken at the season premiere of Schweizer National Circus Knie in Rapperswill, Switzerland earlier this year. The photograph captured the moment of their first appearance on horseback together in the ring, evidencing the living circus tradition of Switzerland.

Christian Hamel (France), President of the French Circus Friends Association, captured an emotional scene at Circus Knie when an inspired member of the audience drifted away from friends and family following the show in Geneva in 2007 to experience for himself the magic of the piste.

Dimitri Würschel’s (Austria) winning photograph features ten-year-old clown Leon Alberto presenting his trained mouse Augustine in Vienna in 2011. Mr. Würschel and younger brother Leon Alberto perform with Circus Dimitri, fondly referred to as the “littlest circus on earth.”

The 2011 international jury comprised circus historians Greg Parkinson (USA), Antonio Giarola (Italy), Arthur Hofmeester (The Netherlands), Mark St. Leon (Australia), Julio Revolledo Cárdenas (Mexico), and Charles Ricketts (South Africa).

Winning images will be exhibited in January 2012 during the 36th Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo. Wall calendars featuring the winning photographs may be purchased at for residents of North America and in the Federation’s Boutique at for other world regions beginning in September 2011.

For further information:
Laura van der Meer, Federation Executive Director, at

Rodney Huey, North American Press Representative, at

Dirk Kuik, European Press Representative, at

John Le Mare, Oceania Press Representative, at