The necks of the swans bend gracefully, one seamlessly framed by a young girl’s arm – her body language a subtle echo of her surroundings. It’s a complex image reminiscent of another era, but most surprising is its author: 18-year-old Jošt Franko.
Only a junior in high school in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Franko made the photograph in the summer of 2010. “I felt the shot instantly,” he said. “I first saw the swans in wonderful proportions. The little girl was standing there and it was like she was a part of them.”
Franko started taking pictures when he was 14 and won his first award when he was 16 with a moving series of photographs of his newly widowed grandmother. The series was awarded "Best Reportage" by the jury of the Slovenian Press Photo competition in 2010.
Matej Leskovsek, organizer of the annual competition for Slovenian photographers, said the jury was stunned when they discovered Franko’s age. “When the jury saw the widow series they immediately knew it was one of the best entries.” Leskovsek said. “It was a big surprise to the jury.”
He won again this year, with an essay documenting the lives of shepherds in rural Slovenia. Franko, who listed Larry Towell's book, "The Mennonites", as a huge influence, didn't have a driver's license, so he had to be driven to the countryside each morning. “My mentor Peter helped me with that.” Franko said.
After high school, Franko, who turned 18 in March, said he looked forward to devoting more time to photography. "I would love to just start working and traveling around the world, covering conflict areas and doing all sorts of different projects." he said. "I would prefer that over studying."