Meet the Winners of the First “Young Views from the Amazon” Photo Contest

Meet the Winners of the First “Young Views from the Amazon” Photo Contest

Colombia - 09 April, 2024

In the second half of 2023, Tropenbos Colombia invited young people from the Colombian Amazon to participate in the photography contest "Young Views from the Amazon" aimed at people between 14 and 26 years old. More than 60 photographs were received from the 6 departments that make up the Colombian Amazon.

The jury selected three winning photographs and gave a special mention to other young participants. They all expressed in a sensitive and meaningful way their relationship with their territory and the environment. Through the photographs and the written reflections that accompanied them, it was possible to see how the region's young people feel committed to taking care of nature, traditions and ancestral knowledge.

The first place was awarded to Cindy Amalec Laulate Castillo, a 26-year-old Tikuna woman who portrayed herself wearing the crown of her family's traditional medicine knowledge. Cindy was born in the community of San Francisco Loretoyacu, part of the ATICOYA indigenous resguardo in the municipality of Puerto Nariño, Amazonas. Thanks to this contest, she received her first camera and tripod, important tools for her career since she is currently studying Intercultural Communication at the Intercultural Indigenous Autonomous University of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca.

I named my photographs "Self-Portrait Series" because they represent the point of view and power of the Tikuna/Magüta woman, as part of my discovery and emancipation from the different oppressions that I have lived as an indigenous woman. I walk the territory and face the need to fight to defend the Amazon every day. This photo has as a special element: the feather crown. Generally, only men wear the crown as they are in charge of traditional medicine. By wearing the crown, I am vindicating the role of the indigenous woman and her wisdom.

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The second place went to the series of photographs by Javin Nicolás Figueroa who lives in the indigenous resguardo known as El Diamante in the municipality of Solano, Caquetá. This 24-year-old Korebaju also portrayed himself in communion with the surrounding nature and highlighted the necklaces and body paintings of his clan. He explains:

My photographs shows that the environment is everything to me. It gives me the energy and hopes to obtain a good living as an indigenous person, in proximity to spirituality, physical sustenance (food), and nature which allows me to create the body paintings that identify me with my clan of origin and with my elders. Nowadays, many cultural aspects have changed As a young Amazonian, I feel there I need to face the changes coming about our territory and expand our view to see beyond.

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Third place went to Yunner Helaín Ilés Moreno, another young Korebaju, 23 years old, who portrayed children from his community together with his father Miyer Ilés Márquez, a teacher at the Korebaju Porvenir Kanaguchal Rural School in Solano, Caquetá. About this photo, the author says:

We live in a tropical humid zone, surrounded by the songs of diverse animals that share our territory and that are interculturally related to us. Our Korebaju people are part of the ethnic diversity that exists in the Colombian Amazon, we have our own identity and traditional practices… We do not share the deforestation practices of primary forests, secondary forests or riversides. This is our home, our immense house. We live peacefully because we depend on our land, it feeds us, heals us and allows us to communicate with spiritual beings. Nature is everything to us.


In an interview with Cindy Amalec Laulate Castillo, we learned about her process of personal, cultural and professional development. It has been mostly autonomous and very inspiring. Cindy believes that communication collectives are growing in the Amazon region thanks to the strong relationships and practices within communities. In addition, they currently aim to expand solidarity networks with other independent media, with academia, cooperation, and establish alliances for the conservation of their territories.

The winner of the contest "Young Views from the Amazon" shows us how young people in this region are exploring their interests, beliefs, dreams and concerns through important tools such as video and photography. In this way, they are seeking to elevate their voices and to generate new actions that may bring economic income. This first edition of the photography contest launched by Tropenbos Colombia leaves us with a valuable collection of opinions and reflections from the young people from the Amazon who participated. It allows us, for example, to identify what is having a positive impact on the communities from the perspective of youths also what are their concerns.

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The objective of the contest was to encourage the young to record and document their life and their organizational, educational, cultural, and personal experiences, thus contributing to a clearer understanding of their role in the processes of conservation and environmental education in the Amazonian territory. The contest was organized by Tropenbos Colombia within the program Forests for a Just Future —Green Livelihoods Alliance financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.