It's both extremely contemporary, and also referencing important historical points...
Judge Aimee Le Duc
"Afro Indy Dandy" is a creative collaboration with fashion designer Hunter Blue that tells a tale of romantic love and gentle masculinity. Gender-fluid beings express themselves as wearable art, allowing their emotions to flow like music through their dress. Gelen evokes poetry in her images and joins cultures via textiles and florals, creating a rich visual tapestry.
Gelen says she owes "such a high level of sophistication in every detail to the amazing people I worked with," including her makeup artist, florist, and set designer. The individual images in "Afro Indy Dandy" are more than photographs: they are painted together, combining stylistic elements that reflect the collaborators' mediums and broader cultural influence.
Each scene comes to life under lighting techniques that expertly imitate the glow of Renaissance oil paintings.
Russian-born in Kazakhstan, Alena Gelen studied Intercultural Communication for 5 years at the Novosibirsk State University in Siberia before deciding to change course and become a photographer. Inspired to pursue a creative career after studying abroad at London College of Fashion, she's now majoring in Visual Communication at Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography in South Africa.
Gelen calls her Adobe Design Achievement Award "the best reward I could ever dream about. True creativity is when you can create a masterpiece with great passion and minimal resources. Never wait for the perfect moment; the reality is that even if you are given a million dollars and a high-end production crew, something will always be not right. So, start doing it NOW, with what you have, or forget it."