By Handan Kazanci
A jury of international experts has completed the selection process for the winners of Anadolu Agency’s fourth Istanbul Photo Awards 2018.
The jury members spent four days in Turkey’s art and culture center in Istanbul to select top three images in 10 categories. The winners will be announced at the end of March.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB), Turkish Airlines, and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) sponsored the international news photo contest.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Michel Scotto, the director of photo business development at Agence France-Presse, said that the jury had “a lot of content on the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh and Burma,” using an older name for Myanmar.
“A lot of pictures also on the Middle East conflict, Syria, Mosul, and Africa,” Scotto added.
He said that the Istanbul contest was “getting more prestigious every year.”
“We have a lot of applicants. A lot of people are sending their pictures,” he added.
According to Scotto, contests similar to the Istanbul Photo Awards with prizes to support photographers always help them especially during lean times for the press.
On the winner this year, Scotto said: “I think we more or less agreed on the winner. There was no real discussion; we know it stands out from the rest of pictures that were represented.”
'More prestigious each year'
Jury president is Marion Mertens, the senior digital editor at Paris Match magazine.
Photographers from more than 120 countries have applied with more than 30,000 pictures for this year's contest, "a lot of quality for this fourth year of the awards,” she said.
On this year’s winner, she said: “I think the winner this year is really strong. It is a picture that explains a lot about what the big story of the year was,” she added.
“It is a very moving picture while it is also a very strong picture,” she said, adding that the Istanbul Photo Awards are about being able to “have strength and emotion at the same time in photography.”
Mertens also talked about women photojournalists. “There is a movement of female photography happening. There are a lot of women journalists doing more and more in the field, war photography, social issues, and also portraits of celebrities.”
“The fact that women are part of the conversation is a really important thing for professionals in photography,” she added.
According to Mertens, the Istanbul Photo Awards are different from other prizes. “It is a great combination of features and news and social issues, so I think it is getting better every year.”
Speaking on being in Istanbul for the first time, she said: “It is great and it is very interesting that there is an award in Istanbul.
“I think it is very important that it happened here and that we look also at different types of photography from different countries,” she added.
Georges DeKeerle, photographer and visual media adviser, said he was surprised by the number of submission for the contest.
“I think most of the continent was represented, a huge number of photographers, and the quality was amazing,” DeKeerle said.
“The Istanbul Photo Awards draws from a different pool of photography.
“So you have photographers that have worked for the major news services but you have also a lot of photography that you don’t necessarily see in London or Paris. Photography that comes from countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria.”
According to DeKeerle, a great many photographers working for NGOs also applied for the contest.
DeKeerle describes this year’s winner as “a picture that doesn’t need a caption. It is a picture that tells the story without being in your face.”
“It’s probably one of the best winners that I have seen,” he added.
DeKeerle said the Istanbul Photo Awards’ very existence is a contribution to the world of photography.
As Anadolu Agency is “a big supporter,” the contest attracts people who would not necessarily enter competitions.
DeKeerle also called Istanbul “a magical city.”
“What really again differentiates the competition from others is not the situation, the country, but the people and the hospitality that we enjoy here,” he added.
Another jury member is Cameron Spencer, an award-winning chief photographer at Getty Images based in Sydney, Australia.
“This year,” Spencer said, “the good thing about the jury, we had strength in different types of photography.”
“We all came together and worked as a team to come up with the strongest picture from around the world.
“I think this year the standard was exceptionally high and there were more entries than ever and I think the completion has grown,” he added.
Spencer said that this year’s winner “deserves to be the winner and the whole jury was onboard with the decision and I can’t wait for it to be announced.”
According to Spencer, the Istanbul Photo Awards is important as it gives journalists from around the world a platform to show their works across the world via exhibits.
“The Istanbul Photo Awards travels around the world, different cities, and it is great exposure for photographers.
“I think it’s nothing but positive for the industry, particular for up and coming photojournalists, and the Istanbul Photo Awards offers a prize for young photojournalists, which I think it is very important,” he added.
Nearly 37,000 photographs from 125 countries are competing for this year's prize.
The Istanbul Photo Awards rewards technically excellent photos about the most important events of the year. In years past, Frederic Lafargue’s “Fleeing from Daesh,” Abd Doumany’s image of an injured Syrian boy, and Daniel Berehulak’s coverage of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia were chosen as Photos of the Year.
This year, in addition to the Rohingya crisis and Syria, photos of key social, political, and sports events are being awarded by the jury in 10 categories.