A Durham resident, just returned home for the summer following his freshman year at Pacific Union College in California, has won a major photography award as he pursues a career as a documentary photographer.

Sam Delaware, a 2015 graduate of Pine Tree Academy in Freeport, has been named a Youth Photographer of the Year in the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards. Delaware’s portrait of his 14-year-old sister, Sarah, taken when he was home for Christmas, won in the Youth Portraits category. It was on display at the Somerset House in London, and will be published in the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards book. Delaware was flown to London in April to attend an awards gala, and received a high-end Sony a7R II camera as his award.

“It was an incredible honor,” said Delaware, son of Jim and Donna Delaware. “I had entered last fall, not really thinking much about it. Since it was free, I gave it a shot.”

Brian Kyle, Delaware’s photography instructor at Pacific Union, commended him in a press release from the college.

“Sam is a talented photographer and dedicated student of the arts who I am thrilled to have here at PUC,” Kyle said. “The fact that such a young student is already being publicly recognized for his talents is a testament to his dedication, passion and artistic vision.”

Delaware is attending Pacific Union as one of its five Maxwell Scholars, the college’s most prestigious scholarship. At Pine Tree Academy, he was senior class president, a member of the National Honor Society, a Phi Beta Kappa Award recipient and first chair trumpet in the academy band.

Sony received a record-breaking 230,130 entries from 185 countries. The Youth Award competition is open to photographers between the ages of 12-19, and judged by Sony on just a single photograph within three categories: culture, environment and portraits. Delaware’s win in the portraits category positioned him to compete for the overall Youth Photographer of the Year title, against a 17-year-old from Iran and a 12-year-old from Italy.

Delaware said he will take a summer job in retail, but he has big things in mind for his artistic skills. He plans to do a photo documentary about Maine’s failing paper industry, especially in the small towns in the northern part of the state. He wants to show how the towns that have lost their paper mills have been affected, as the industry suffers from a declining demand for paper, due to a technology-driven economy.

“I’m trying to tell that story,” said Delaware, who will visit some of the towns and interview former mill workers. “I’m hoping to turn the series into a small publication that I will distribute myself. It will be a photo documentary, like a book or a magazine.”

Delaware said he became interested in photography in middle school, and became more involved in high school. He wanted to get into what he called “visual narratives,” so Delaware started his own wedding photography business while in high school.

“It was a good way to start out,” he said. “My low prices helped me out.”

At Pacific Union, Delaware has gone from one Seventh-day Adventist school to another. He likes that Pacific Union is a small school, and he gets to know most everyone.

“Northern California is beautiful,” he said.

Sam Delaware stands next to his photograph of his sister Sarah, which won him a Sony Youth Photographer of the Year award.
Tom Dymond

Sam Delaware stands next to his photograph of his sister Sarah, which won him a Sony Youth Photographer of the Year award.

Sam Delaware of Durham receives a Youth Photographer of the Year award during a ceremony in London.

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