Award Winners for 2020!
For this new international photography award, we invited 20 influential experts from around the world to review the submissions — asking each of the experts to select three personal favorites to win a Critic’s Choice award — and to explain what they particularly liked about each of their picks.
Photographers from over 150 countries took advantage of this opportunity to get their work seen by this large group of experts. And the results are — amazing!
We encourage you to dig in to appreciate the wide range of topics and artistic approaches and diverse points of view. This is a chance to discover lots of fresh new inspiring work — and also a unique opportunity to learn directly from the experts what makes these photographs and series so special in their eyes.
It’s an eclectic mix, as you can imagine, coming from so many different highly-opinionated people who work daily with photography in so many diverse fields, like media, fine art, book publishing, museums, auction houses, festivals, magazines, websites, branding… We hope you will find some of your own new personal favorites, too.
This series responding to the famous images by Catherine Opie candidly addresses gender and sexuality issues; the scars carved into the back reveal the complexity of this problem juxtaposed with the personal suffering that the subject had experienced. This one picture is enough to trigger the thought that this is one of the viruses that should concerns all of us.
Alexa Becker is the Acquisitions Editor for photography and art books for Kehrer Verlag Book Publisher. Having obtained her Master’s in Art History from the University of Heidelberg, she started her career at Kehrer in 2003, where she is responsible for selecting and acquiring new photography-related projects.
Founded in 1995, Kehrer Verlag in Heidelberg Germany specializes in books in the fields of photography, fine arts, and culture, working together closely with international artists, authors, museums and cultural institutions.
Anna Dannemann is Senior Curator at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize (2016-19) and has organized several solo exhibitions, among them Simon Fujiwara’s Joanne (2016), Charlotte Dumas’ Anima & The Widest Prairies (2015), Viviane Sassen’s Analemma (2014), and William Burroughs. Anna regularly contributes to catalogues and other publications, and received an MA in Art and Visual History from the Humboldt-University of Berlin.
Azu Nwagbogu is the founder and director of the African Artists’ Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2007 and based in Lagos, Nigeria that is dedicated to the promotion and development of contemporary African arts and artists. Nwagbogu also founded the National Art Competition in 2008, an annual arts competition in Nigeria; the Lagos Photo Festival, an annual international photography festival; and Art Base Africa, a new virtual space to discover and learn about contemporary African Art and diaspora. He owns a diverse collection of modern contemporary art and has curated private collections in Africa for the past 20 years.
He was a juror for the Dutch Doc and the POPCAP Photography Awards, World Press Photo, Prisma Photography Award (2015) and Greenpeace Photo Award (2016). He was nominated as curator for the Prix Découverte Rencontres d’Arles (2014) as well as Photoquai (2015) and Photolux Festival (2015). He curated “Dey Your Lane! Lagos Variations” for the Bozar Museum in Brussels and “Tear My Bra” for Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016. Azu Nwagbogu lives and works in Lagos.
Charlotte Cotton is an independent curator and writer. She is currently curator in residence at the International Center of Photography, NY and the Metabolic Studio, LA. She has held positions including: curator of photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, head of programming at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, and head of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is the author of “The Photograph as Contemporary Art.” Her most recent exhibition was “Public, Private, Secret,” which opened the ICP’s new 250 Bowery exhibition and event space in June 2016. Her most recent book, “Photography is Magic” (2015) surveys the practices of eighty-five contemporary artists that are reshaping the idea of photography.
Corey Keller is the Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). She joined the museum in 1999 and held a number of positions before she was promoted to her current role in 2012.
At SFMOMA, Keller organized the critically acclaimed exhibition “Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900” (2008), which explored the use of photography in 19th-century science, particularly focusing on the representation of phenomena invisible to the naked eye. Accompanied by an award-winning catalogue, the show traveled to the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria.
With SFMOMA curators Janet Bishop and Sarah Roberts, Keller co-organized a large-scale exhibition celebrating the museum’s 75th anniversary in 2010, as well as its accompanying major catalogue. She was instrumental in organizing the much-discussed symposium “Is Photography Over?” (2010) and also participated as a panelist. Other exhibitions that Keller has curated include “Henry Wessel” (2006) and “1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Pictures” (2006). She also coordinated the San Francisco presentations of “William Eggleston: Los Alamos” (2005), “Looking In: Robert Frank and The Americans” (2009), and “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century” (2010), among others. She oversees “Picturing Modernity,” SFMOMA’s ongoing presentation of its world-class photography collection.
Darius Himes is the first International Head of Photographs for Christie’s, joining in November 2014. Prior to that, he was Director of Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco (2011-2014). In his curatorial career, he has collaborated with a wide range of photographers, from Lee Friedlander to Alec Soth and Katy Grannan. He has also worked with some of the top institutions across the United States: The Art Institute of Chicago, David Zwirner Gallery and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Himes has contributed writing to Aperture, American Photo, Blind Spot, Bookforum, BOMB, PDN, and Lay Flat. He also co-authored the title, "Publish Your Photography Book," a popular guide (now in its second edition) to the illustrated book publishing industry.
Shields has over twenty years’ picture-editing experience across a range of newspaper titles and has served as picture editor of The Guardian for the last nine. She recently took up the role of Head of Photography for the Guardian News and Media Group. Throughout her career, she has been involved in the coverage of some of the most historic news stories of our time: 9/11, conflicts around the world, the Arab Spring and much more. Besides her work at the newspaper, she’s delivered talks at photo festivals and to students of photojournalism. She has judged the Sony World Photography Awards, the UK Picture Editors Guild Awards, and the Renaissance Photography Prize among others. Most recently she served as a nominator for the Prix Pictet and joined the jury of the highly regarded Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize.
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.
Joanna Milter is the director of photography for The New Yorker, overseeing all photography for the print and digital versions of the magazine, in addition to Photo Booth, the magazine’s photo blog. Since she joined The New Yorker, in 2015, the magazine’s photography has been recognized by World Press Photo, the Society of Publication Designers, and American Photography, and has received a National Magazine Award for Feature Photography.
Previously, Joanna spent eleven years as a photo editor at The New York Times Magazine; for the last four of those years, she was the deputy photo editor.
Since 2002, Qatari photographer Khalifa Al Obaidly has concentrated on Qatari tradition and culture through his work, focusing on the twin themes of desert and sea. In addition to photography, his career also spans many different projects across science, art and heritage work. Originally studying marine biology at the University of Qatar, Al Obaidly has worked at a number museums including the Aquarium at the Qatar National Museum, working on a project to construct a museum of photography with a collection of work. He has also served as an assistant director at the Islamic Art Museum (project) through the Qatari National Council for Culture, Art and Heritage. Most recently Al Obaidly developed an artist-in-resident program to support local artists and connect them to the international art scene. He is currently the director of Photo Festival, an initiative to celebrate young photographic artists in the region.
Lars Boering is the Managing Director of World Press Photo, the world’s leading international contest in visual journalism. He has been actively involved with photography for many years. He has (co)produced exhibitions with photographers, Festivals, museums and art foundations.
In 2008, he founded Lux Photo gallery: showcasing photography that demonstrated creative integrity and intent, originality, narrative and aesthetic quality and a high level of craftsmanship. At the end of 2014, he stopped working for the gallery.
He also worked as the director of the Federation of Dutch Professional photographers, improving the working position of photographers helping them to safeguard their copyright. In 2014 he merged all member associations into one strong professional organization called Dutch Photographers (DuPho).
In 2010, he co-founded the successful master class ‘Advanced Storytelling’ at www.noorderlicht.com, where he still teaches.
Louise Clements is Artistic Director of QUAD, a centre for contemporary art and film, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director/Curator of FORMAT International Photography Festival, one of the UK’s leading contemporary photography and media festivals. As a curator, she has initiated and curated many commissions, publications, mass participation art, film and photography programmes and exhibitions around the world. Louise regularly writes about photography for catalogues and magazines in both print and online media including:Next Level, South Korean Photography, co-editor of Hijacked III UK/AUS, PHOTOCINEMA, and she is Editor at Large for www.1000wordsmag.com. She is an international photography juror and nominator, and a regular portfolio reviewer at festivals and galleries throughout Europe, America and Asia.
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.
Mary Virginia Swanson is an author, educator and advisor who helps artists find the strength in their work, identify appreciative audiences, and present their work in an informed, professional manner.
Unique among authorities in our field, Swanson’s in-depth knowledge, professional reputation and connections throughout our industry offers a broad range of perspectives on both the making and marketing of photo-based work. Her public seminars, lectures on marketing opportunities and in-depth workshops & retreats have proven to aid photographers in moving their careers to the next level.
Swanson co-authored with Darius Himes the acclaimed “Publish Your Photography Book: Revised & Updated” (2014) and continues to stay current on the growing market for photobooks, reflecting both the relative ease of self-publishing and the rise of the collectible photographic artists book.
Swanson’s website is mvswanson.com and she’s on Instagram as @maryvirginiaswanson.
Mazie Harris, Ph.D., is an assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where she conducts research and manages the acquisition, loan, and display of photographs at the Museum from the past and present. Her scholarship has been supported by the Terra Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Art, and the Library of Congress. She has worked with photography collections at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Harvard Art Museums.
Michael Famighetti is the Editor of Aperture magazine. In 2013, he organized a relaunch and reconceptualization of the publication, which won a 2018 National Magazine Award for General Excellence. He is the recipient, with guest editor Sarah Lewis, of the ICP Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research for “Vision & Justice,” the summer 2016 issue of Aperture.
In addition to editing the magazine, Famighetti commissions and edits books for the Aperture Foundation, including volumes by William Christenberry, Robert Adams, John Divola, Jonas Bendiksen, Kwame Brathwaite and Joel Meyerowitz, among others. He is currently a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Art and a participant in SVA’s Mentors program.
His writing has appeared in Frieze, Bookforum and Aperture, among other publications. He is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and has been a guest reviewer and speaker at many international festivals and institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The New York Times; Vogue Italia; FOAM, Amsterdam; the Art Gallery of Ontario; the Bamako Biennial, Mali; Kyotographie, Kyoto; Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark; and Fotografiska, Stockholm.
Mutsuko Ota is Editorial Director of IMA magazine. Born in Tokyo, 1968, she started her career as an editor at Marie Claire and worked at several men’s magazines such as Esquire, GQ and others as a feature editor. Besides collaborating with several magazines as a freelance editor, she became involved in various fields including art projects, book and catalogue editing, and film promotion. She became the editorial director of IMA magazine in January 2012. In 2004, she helped produce a physical space called IMA CONCEPT STORE in Tokyo, with the goal of popularizing art photography in Japan.
Rebecca Morse is Curator in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where she recently organized the exhibitions Sarah Charlesworth: Doubleworld and Larry Sultan: Here and Home. Previous exhibitions include Amanda Ross Ho: Teeny Tiny Woman, Cai Guo-Qiang: Ladder to the Sky, Rodarte: States of Matter, The Artist’s Museum, and Florian Maier-Aichen organized for The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) where she was Associate Curator through 2013. She has written about the evolving relationship between photography and sculpture, contemporary photography in Los Angeles, and photography’s changing role in contemporary art beginning in the 1980s.
Simon Bainbridge has spent much of his 25 years in arts journalism as editor of British Journal of Photography, taking over in 2003 and transforming the weekly trade journal into an award-winning monthly magazine. He has curated five exhibitions: Paper, Rock, Scissors: The Constructed Image in New British Photography at Flash Forward Festival 2010 in Boston (with colleague Diane Smyth); Time & Motion studies: New documentary photography beyond the decisive moment at Hereford Photography Festival 2011; Portrait of Britain (nationwide, 2016-18); and Ones To Watch at Peckham 24. He is working on two books; the first one based on the acclaimed public art project, Portrait of Britain, with Hoxton Mini Press, the other a book on portraits of artists. In additional, he has served as a judge or nominator on more than 100 photography contests, including the Deutsche Börse, Prix Pictet, Amnesty International Media Awards, ING Unseen Talent, CAP Prize and Organ Vida, and has been an expert at dozens of portfolio reviews across Europe.
Susan Thompson has spent over ten years as a curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she has organized numerous exhibitions, including most recently Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now (2019–20); Simone Leigh: Loophole of Retreat (2019); and Anicka Yi: Life Is Cheap (2017). Her writing has appeared in various volumes, including Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away (Guggenheim Museum, 2018), The Black Dada Reader (Walther König Books, 2017), and Photo-Poetics: An Anthology (Guggenheim Museum, 2015). Thompson holds an MA in modern art from Columbia University and a BA in art history and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Congratulations to all 48 winning photographers! And sincere thanks to every photographer who participated, and to each of the experts who contributed their time and expertise.