We’re delighted to announce the winners, jurors’ picks and finalists of the 2020 LensCulture Black & White Awards. Photographers from more than 120 countries responded to our international call for entries, and after extended review and passionate discussion by the jury, these 39 photographers were selected as the best.
It was especially refreshing to discover so much great new work in black and white that seems current and relevant to multiple global concerns and challenges of 2020. The work you will discover here includes an astonishing range of artistic approaches, too, from hybrid mixes of documentary and fiction, to reportage, self-portraits, philosophical meditations, street photography, studio work, and appreciation of everyday natural beauty.
Black and white photography is like a language of its own, with arresting qualities that sear directly into your consciousness. It somehow lets you “see” everything that is in front of the camera with heightened vision. These photographs will still hold their seductive power many years from now.
We hope you will discover some true inspiration here!
These photos seem alive somehow, and infused with a silent menace that made me want to dig deeper into the story behind them. The project, which includes staged documentary-style photos as well as real archival images, examines an unusual national law that was put into place in Spain in 1977 after the death of the dictator, Franco.
According to Wikipedia, the Pact of Forgetting (Spanish: Pacto del olvido) “was an attempt to put the past behind them and concentrate on the future of Spain. In making a smooth transition from autocracy to democracy, the pact ensured that there were no prosecutions for persons responsible for human rights violations or other atrocities and crimes… [The pact] ensured that difficult questions about the recent past were suppressed for fear of endangering 'national reconciliation' and the restoration of liberal-democratic freedoms.”
Agterberg writes: “The project looks widely through the reconstruction of memory at how society can cope with atrocity … and investigates how forgetting became a political tool.”
I chose Andrey’s work because I appreciate his poetic approach, it spoke to my feelings. The power of photography is the direct connection with your imagination, and his piece of work talked to mine. I love the woman's portrait with the flowers.
A traditionalist at heart, this image spoke to me in composition but also in its ability of surprise and evoke humor. Portraiture is my passion and Aubrey captured a family portrait in the most unexpected and playful way. The illuminated sister in the back almost looks at if she is a cut-out paper doll placed in the photo digitally or perhaps a sunlit vision of a person that is not suppose to be there. The other two in backseat appear caught off guard not able to give their best selfie photo we are all used to seeing with the younger generations. The driver in the car is exactly that: the driver, no more, no less with little attention given to him and purposefully so. But the real humor or joy of the photo is the unexpected glorious smile of the family dog peeking through the seat. This completes the photograph.
Magnificent series by Antonio Pellicano. With a lot of love, he followed his parents in this long and difficult period. As a viewer you can fully empathize with their situation, beautiful and strongly portrayed!
I was captivated by the sincerity of the emotion conveyed by the sorrowful figure and the deep black shadows. After studying the image further, I noticed that there is a beautiful balance at play: the dominant heavy blacks are offset by the soft gray structure in the background and the gentleness of the woman’s posture and hands. It makes for a harmonious and resolved photograph.
Memories are elusive and irrational things, sensual remnants of experiences embedded in our neural pathways because they affected our consciousness profoundly. Photographs share with memories their inevitable partiality and subjectivity, and I liked how this project manifested these congruities. Each pair of black-and-white images resides in a hinged tin enclosure, the tonality and physicality of the photographic object reinforcing its keepsake quality. The modesty, sensitivity, and conceptual/material harmony of the project stuck with me long after I encountered the series. It’s my pick so that others, too, might be given the opportunity for contemplation it offers.
I so appreciate the dream-state presented in this image and the complex negotiation of boyhood, as it stands in the tension of a gendered binary. The surreality found in mirroring. What water does, and how our bodies can be carried by water as a site of play, pleasure, joy, healing.
This portrait by Calogero Cammalleri was taken in Lampedusa, a part of Italy but closer to northern Africa very well known for migration. It was difficult to understand if the effect of the portrait was created accidentally or by deliberate choice, is it real or not? The little blurriness, the shades between black and white and the tender eyes looking away -- holds the photograph together.
Lisa Hostetler is curator in charge of the Department of Photography at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY. She has held previous positions as the McEvoy Family Curator of Photography at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and as Curator of Photographs at the Milwaukee Art Museum. She earned her PhD from Princeton University with a dissertation on photographer Louis Faurer while working as a research associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Major exhibitions she has curated with accompanying publications are David Levinthal: War, Myth, Desire (2018); Eugene Richards: The Run-On of Time (with April Watson, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2017); A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age (2016); Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman (with Kate Bussard, Princeton University Art Museum, 2013); and Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography (2010). She has also curated several shows that were the first museum exhibitions of new bodies of work, including Tanya Marcuse: Woven (2019), Gail Albert Halaban: Out My Window (2018), and Brian Ulrich: The Centurion (2015). Among her current projects are James Welling: Choreograph (2020), Breaking the Rules: Six Women Fashion Photographers (2021), and a retrospective of Nickolas Muray’s photography that will open in 2023.
Nicolas Jimenez is director of photography of the French daily newspaper Le Monde. He studied management at Sciences Po and European studies at Sorbonne University. From 1999 to 2004 he worked with Jean-Francois Leroy for the international festival of photojournalism Visa pour l’Image. In 2005, when Le Monde decided to become a major actor of the photojournalism industry, Jimenez became national photo editor. He went on to become the head of the photo department, then chief editor in 2018. Le Monde is now one of the three biggest photojournalism producers in the French-speaking press.
Anna Walker Skillman has been a loyal and active participant in the arts community for the last 29 years. Graduated in Art History from the University of Georgia in 1991, she began her career working at the Haines Gallery, a leading contemporary art gallery in San Francisco. In 1993, Anna moved to Atlanta to manage the studio of Atlanta artist Todd Murphy. After working with Mr. Murphy to help establish his career, Anna turned to photography and joined Jackson Fine Art in 1997. In March of 2003, she purchased Jackson Fine Art from Jane Jackson, who became curator of the prestigious collection of Sir Elton John. Ms. Walker Skillman is honored to continue a reputation of excellence in exhibiting photography by both emerging and established artists. With a focus on a blend of 20th century and contemporary work, she continues her commitment to the arts in Atlanta and beyond.
Jackson Fine Art is located at 3115 East Shadowlawn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. The gallery has two exhibition spaces and rotates exhibits every two months. Represented artists include: Mona Kuhn, Gordon Parks, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harry Callahan, Mitch Epstein, John Chiara, Andrew Moore, Helen Levitt, Sally Mann, Abelardo Morell, Jack Spencer, Angela West and Yamamoto Masao, among others. The gallery has participated in various international art fairs including: The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) Photography Show, Paris Photo, Art Miami, and Photo Los Angeles.
Thea Traff is a Senior Photo Editor at TIME Magazine, where she commissions photography for the print and digital editions of the magazine. Prior to TIME, Thea was a Photo Editor at The New Yorker Magazine for six years. While at The New Yorker, the team was awarded an ASME for her work on Philip Montgomery's coverage of the opioid epidemic. Thea studied Studio Art and Philosophy at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY.
Munem Wasif’s photography and film investigates complex social and political issues with a humanistic language, by getting close to the people, physically and psychologically, dealing with multiple questions and contradictions. Expressionistic in style and long-term in method, Wasif often experiments beyond the tradition, tests the possibilities of fiction, by borrowing a familiar documentary language. His interest is often on the concept of ‘documents’ and ‘archives’ and it’s influence on addressing politically and geographically complex issues. He was one of the curators of Chobi Mela VIII – X International Festival of Photography. His last book on Old Dhaka was published by Clémentine de la Féronnière from France.
He had exhibitions worldwide including, Center Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo & Visa pour l’image in France, Whitechapel Gallery, Kettle’s Yard & Victoria & Albert museum in England, Museu d’Art Contemporani de in Spain, Musee de elysee, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire & Fotomuseam Winterthur in Switzerland, Kunsthal museum & Noordelicht festival in Netherlands, Museum of Modern Art in Poland, Parasite in Hong Kong,* *The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Vitenam, Gwangju biennale in Korea, Singapore biennale in Singapore, Sharjah Bienalle in UAE, Asia Pacific Triennial of contemporary art in Australia, and Dhaka Art summit & Chobi Mela in Bangladesh.
His photographs have been published in Le Monde, Sunday Times Magazine, Geo, Guardian, Politiken, Mare, Du, Days Japan, L’espresso, Libération, Wall Street Journal and many others.
He is represented by Agence Vu in Paris and Project 88 in Mumbai.
Since 2006, Reinout van den Bergh has worked as curator of BredaPhoto — one of Europe’s leading international photography festivals. He also supervises students and graduates of its International Talent Program.
In his personal and commercial work, he is a photographer, filmmaker and audiovisual designer. In this capacity he has travelled throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the USA and Latin America.
He has worked for various ethnographical museums, and his work has been exhibited in museums in Eastern and Western Europe and Africa, and published in several books and other publications. His latest book, Eboundja, was published in September 2020.
Legacy Russell is a curator and writer. Born and raised in New York City, she is the Associate Curator of Exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Russell holds an MRes with Distinction in Art History from Goldsmiths, University of London with a focus in Visual Culture. Her academic, curatorial, and creative work focuses on gender, performance, digital selfdom, internet idolatry, and new media ritual. Russell’s written work, interviews, and essays have been published internationally. She is the recipient of the Thoma Foundation 2019 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art and a 2020 Rauschenberg Residency Fellow. Her first book is Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto released in Fall 2020 via Verso Books.
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.