We’re delighted to announce 39 talented photographers as the winners, jurors’ picks and finalists of the LensCulture Portrait Awards. These remarkable photographers come from 20 countries on five continents, and their work reflects a wide range of contemporary portraiture being made around the world today.
For this award, we wanted to discover and celebrate innovative approaches to portraiture alongside stunning traditional work. Our jury was amazed by the range of work submitted. From quirky self-portraits to creative portrayals of family, friends, groups and ordinary people around the world, from classic studio portraiture to environmental portraits, there is so much wonderful portraiture being made around the world today!
Be sure to take time to look through all of their work for inspiration and contemplation, surprise and delight.
Director of Photography, National Geographic Traveler
Timeless and organic, Charlie De Keersmaecker’s project ‘Down By The River’ projects the honesty and freedom exhibited in yet-to-be-tested youth. The lack of technology and purposeful clothing lend a timeless quality to the series, allowing the viewer to project themselves into the scene and connect with each image, taking you back to a time when there was uncertainty yet endless opportunity.
The adolescent boys in Pablo Solórzano’s photographs inhabit a world burning around them. They have cigarettes, joints, blunts, and crystal pipes, but little else. They blow smoke in the face of chaos.
This work is very coherent, using a language that, while fragmentary, is clear and direct. Each picture reinforces the storyline by introducing the viewer to a different character or detail from the by-gone era of the dance hall. I love the portraits and feel that the tight crop and melancholy expressions – hardened by the use of flash – create a productive tension. This take-no-prisoners approach to the subject matter invites nostalgia and for me, captures this generation’s distanced but fascinated relationship to our past.
This portrait stopped me when I first saw it, and then when I read the caption, it stuck with me even more. There’s something about the calm dead gaze of this guy, his relaxed demeanor as he sits atop a white plastic chair stacked on top of another white plastic chair, and studies us from behind his makeshift face mask.
There are so many elements in this portrait that give it energy: the way we can see the contours of his very serious face though the thin fabric of his mask, the anonymous globalized camouflage street fashion he wears, the irony of plastic chairs (stacked up) at a camp of protest for environmental causes. In many ways, I can see this as a universal portrait of a new young generation of activists who are intent on making their future world better for all of us.
By posing people of color in the style reminiscent of immigrants a century earlier, Paolo Galletta makes a strong political statement. He is reminding us ‘we are all immigrants’. This powerful and compelling series uses photography to connect the past to the present, reminding us that migration and immigration are about finding better lives.
In this series, The Last Days of Sara, artist Elena Paraskeva uses strong color and surrealism to address the complexities of gender identity. I choose this work because I enjoy the fabricated reality and the crisp way the work is presented. Each image plays out as its own narrative - at times tender, but also aggressive and destructive - as the main character struggles to accept a self that they no longer see as viable. The series uses artifice and exaggeration to address the very real subtles of gender identity and expression.
These self-portraits were taken at the height of the AIDS crisis - before effective drugs were available and in a political and social climate that was extremely hostile to those living with and dying from the disease. These are resolutely not photographs that describe or reassert that suffering. O’Conner speaks of a party atmosphere in the sessions and this comes through, some are playful and all seem to be enjoyed. One can presume and imagine the enjoyment and exchange as the instantaneous results allowed by the polaroid medium were passed around. Skills were shared, results assessed, poses reposed, and the release stayed in the hands of the sitters. These strong and self-asserted portraits flow counter to the stream of imagery we have from the era.
Rafael Goldchain created an incredible project about his family. Old family photo albums are always fascinating and Golchain put himself in them as the only subject. The result is a funny and interesting body of work of incredible self-portraits portraits, each one representations of his ancestors, real or fictional.
Executive Director, Filter Photo
Karen McQuaid is Senior Curator at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. She has curated exhibitions including Jim Goldberg, Open See (2009); Fiona Tan, Vox Populi, London (2012); Andy Warhol, Photographs: 1976 – 1987 (2014); Lorenzo Vitturi, Dalston Anatomy (2014) and Rosângela Rennó, Río-Montevideo (2016). She has co-curated Geraldo De Barros, What Remains (2013) with Isobel Whitelegg and Made You Look, Dandyism and Black Masculinity (2016) with Ekow Eshun. She has co-edited and produced The New Colonists (2018) by Monica Alcazar-Duarte, published with Bemojake. Karen has curated external exhibitions at The Moscow House of Photography and The National Gallery of Kosovo. She regularly edits artists books and guest lectures across the UK.
Anne Farrar, Director of Photography for National Geographic Traveler, believes visual storytelling can be a powerful call to action and catalyst for change within the travel and tourism industry. Anne has held several senior photography positions at many of the best photojournalism newspapers in the US including The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and the Daily Southtown. As a photo editor at the The Dallas Morning News, Anne was part of a team that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
Manila Camarini is the chief photo editor for D La Repubblica, a magazine attached to the newspaper la Repubblica. Born in Milan in 1973, Manila Camarini started her career as a photographic agent working for major Italian newspapers. She has held the role of photo editor for Panorama Travel Mondadori and Condè Nast Traveller. In 2003, she worked as a professional journalist and photo editor for D La Repubblica and in November 2014 she became chief photo editor for D Lui.
Richard Renaldi (b. 1968) is an renowned American portrait photographer. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Asia and Europe, and he is represented by Benrubi Gallery in New York and Robert Morat Galerie in Berlin. Five monographs of Richard’s work have been published and he was the recipient of a 2015 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
A chance encounter brought Lucy to work as an assistant photo editor for a newly minted Italian newsweekly called Liberal. After two formative years as junior assistant photo editor, Lucy went to New York to pursue a career as photo editor, critic and lecturer. She has worked for Business Week, The New York Times, l’Espresso, The New York Times magazine, Courrier International, The International Herald Tribune as well as photography agencies such as Sipa Press, Magnum Photos and briefly, the AFP. In 2011 Lucy joined M, the weekend magazine of Le Monde, as the Director of Photography where she remains today.
Deborah Klochko has over twenty-five years experience in photography museums as an educator, director, and curator. She has curated over thirty exhibitions, was executive editor of an award-winning journal of visual culture called see, and is the founder of Speaking of Light: Oral Histories of American Photographers. Formerly the director of The Friends of Photography, located at the Ansel Adams Center, Deborah has also worked at the California Museum of Photography; the International Museum of Photography and Film at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; and the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Murray is an artist, educator, and curator based in Chicago. She is the Executive Director of Filter Photo, a nonprofit festival, exhibition, and educational space. Her visual work utilizes both original images and photographic archives as she examines the cultural relationships and histories of objects. Murray is a frequent curator, portfolio reviewer, and juror at photography events across the US including Aint-Bad Magazine, FotoFest, Photolucida’s Critical Mass, Society for Photographic Education, and Filter Photo.
Jim Casper is the editor-in-chief of LensCulture, one of the leading online destinations to discover contemporary photography from around the world. As an active member in the contemporary photography world, Casper organizes annual international photography events, travels around the world to meet with photographers and review their portfolios, curates art exhibitions, writes about photography and culture, lectures, conducts workshops, serves as an international juror and nominator for key awards, and is an advisor to arts and education organizations.
Congratulations to all 39 photographers! And to everyone who entered, thank you. We are inspired by the work you do and we are always delighted to discover how image makers around the globe are working with photography in new ways.
We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!