1st place: Chee Keong Lim, Malaysia

During a tour in Indonesia, my family and I went to a small town in Bali. While there, I saw a group of children playing at the side of a dam. They were laughing and playing, completely unaware of their surroundings.

Then they started playing with the water and I saw how their splashing was very beautiful. I asked them to continue their game and continue to splash. I was touched to see this scene, and I took the shot.

2nd place: Julia Gunther, The Netherlands
From the series "Rainbow Girls"

"Rainbow Girls" is a photographic documentary series about lesbian women in South African townships.

Undeterred by the daily threats of violence, constant intimidation and at the risk of being cast out by their own families, the lesbian women of Gugulethu and Khayelitsha township continue to be proud of who they are and the love they represent.

South Africa is still home to high levels of violence against women and children, despite a constitution widely regarded as the most progressive in the world, and after a legislative overhaul that safeguards women's and children’s rights.

"Rainbow Girls" is the third installment of Julia Gunther's ongoing project "Proud Women of Africa": a photographic record of women who live or work in Africa.

3rd place:
Zoran Marinovic, Croatia
From the series "Kids"

My photo-project "Kids" seeks to document the humanitarian concerns of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I met three armed soldiers on a barricade, near Sake town, North Kivu Province, and realized that they were actually 13, 14 year old kids.

Not one of them could read or write. None of them had ever been to a single day of school. I promised to come to their village and visit them but when I arrived, I found only one of them at home. This boy, Muhungu Solo, was saying goodbye to his little sister, ready to move on again. The others had already been taken to another "action" with the army.

I have tried to explore what happens to boys-soldiers in the Congo who are captured or try to escape. In the worst case, they end up in jail. When I visited the prison in Bukavu, I saw how the nightmare for the boys just continues. After a lifetime of war, these children face even more violence in the prison. Their only visitors are missionaries. At least they try their best to help the boys by teaching them to read and write.


Editor's Note: See more work from the winners of the
2013 LensCulture Exposure Awards.