This year’s Street Photography Awards took place under unusual circumstances, to say the least. As a precaution against the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the world went under lockdown, and streets in every corner of the globe were strangely quiet, uninhabited, eerie and uneasy.
The usual hustle-bustle of crowds, consumers and commuters came to a halt, and the everyday pleasures of people-watching fell away to what we could view from the windows of our self-isolation or the screens of our phones.
Nevertheless, hundreds of photographers from five continents submitted images from their streets, made before and during lockdown. Great photographs and series from “normal life” just a few months ago now seem charged with new poignancy as they reflect the liveliness and excitement of human interactions before street life stopped for a while.
In short, there was a lot of great work submitted, and much of it was not typical of what we usually consider “street photography” — so that was exciting, too. After hours of deliberation and discussion, the international jury selected 6 top Winners, 8 special Juror’s Picks, and 25 Finalists. We hope you like them as much as we do.
These 39 photographers hail from 19 countries, and each has an undeniable talent in capturing life as it unfolds through careful observation, sharp technical skills and a strong creative vision.
Erika Anna Schumacher has captured night scenes in Miami with a distinctive cinematic style — color street photographs that shimmer with gloss, as if every surface is glowing with the reflection of neon or theatrical stage lighting. Each image vibrates with the energy of high expectations for a charged-up night on the town. It feels like the stage is set for action.
This photograph is a remarkably well framed and finely observed moment. A real street photographer’s understanding of timing, the frame, and being ‘in the moment’ with what was going on. It has the incredibly rich feeling of being seen for its overall and integrated moment, which Francesco was in harmony with. He saw it all and made a tough and beautiful photograph.
Gala Font de Mora Marti’s series captures people immersed in a film at a drive-in theatre and their surrounding environment. Ominous image are shown on the screen while the people are watching them from a safe environment. Gala’s images are quiet, mysterious and intimate moments portraying a disappearing culture. They can be interpreted differently with the current situation we are all in.
This picture could be a grab from a movie. Kai was able to show us an interaction that might not even exist in reality. Nevertheless, we’re asking ourselves immediately, do they know each other? Are they angry with each other? Are the white teddies involved? From two random guys crossing the street we all create a scenario in our minds. In mine, the man on the front is a detective investigating a missing child, keeping his suspect under his watch. That’s trivial, but this is also the beauty of this medium. Photographers are storytellers and the streets are such a great playground.
I love the fleeting moment that is captured here. It’s impossible to know exactly what is happening but speaks to a scene where the boy is obviously very comfortable and in his element. His knowing glance and the arrangement of the fish in the air makes it look like he magically planned the whole thing.
This is an extremely beautiful photograph. Life has composed it and Meysam was able to freeze the situation forever, as he was in the right place at the right time. As the viewer I ask myself, where are the women? What are the many men looking at? Many of the jurors rated the picture highly, and while it did not win a top prize in the end, it has immediately made me curious about the Meysam’s work.
The central framing of the figure and the tight cropping of the structure behind gives this image a formality which belies the spontaneity of the moment. For Sofia Verzbolovskis, a Panamanian photographer based in New York City, the street is a stage where elements of architecture, light, and color form a set for daily life. In this image, it is the momentary connection that makes the connection, achieved through gesture and a look.
The entry contained some of the strongest traditional street photography in the entire competition. If I could, I would pull this photograph out as a single and nominate it instead, as it has everything I look for in street photography: a moment in time never to be repeated, shown from a well-developed aesthetic point of view. Although I do like the photographer’s technique, to me the series relies a little much on deep shadows and I would prefer to have seen a little more variety in lighting conditions. But on the whole the series is very well done - playful, interesting and dynamic and something that a viewer can find new details in upon each viewing.
Joel Meyerowitz (born in New York, 1938) is an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. Celebrated as a pioneer of color photography, he is a two-time Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities awards, and a recipient of The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal. He has published 30 books.
Whitney C. Johnson is the Vice President of Visuals and Immersive Experiences at National Geographic. Before joining the Society in 2015, she was the Director of Photography at The New Yorker where she oversaw the photographic vision for the magazine in print, on the iPad, and online. Prior to that she worked at the Open Society Foundations.
She has taught at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and the International Center of Photography. She is on the board of the W. Eugene Smith Fund, the Photojournalism Advisory Council for the Alexia Foundation, and the Advisory Committee for the Magnum Foundation’s Emergency Fund.
Jerome Huffer (born 1981 in Paris) joined Paris Match as a trainee in 2001, while he was still in art school. He has remained at the magazine since then, and is now head of the picture desk. Across his time at Paris Match, Jerome has built strong visual narratives and produced tailored editorial content in a fast-paced challenging environment. Jerome has served on the several juries including World Press Photo, Visa d’or Awards, and the Bayeux Festival or Lagardere Foundation.
Ihiro Hayami is the founder and director of T3 Photo Festival (Tokyo International Photography Festival), the former chief editor of Japanese photography magazine PHaT PHOTO, and was the gallery director of RINGCUBE (Ginza). Ihiro’s curatorial exhibitions include Alejandro Chaskielberg’s Otsuchi Future Memories (2016), Alex Prager’s WEEK-END (2010), and more. Over the past few years he has served as juror, lecturer, and reviewer at various international photo festivals and photography universities.
Amy Silverman is currently a Photo Editor and Producer on the Airbnb creative team. Previously she was a Senior Photo Editor at Wired and before that, Photo Editor at Outside Magazine. Amy has been commissioning photography and producing shoots for over 10 years and loves working directly with photographers to create stories. Before working in publishing, she was an Assistant Cameraperson in the world of film and television. These days she lives in Oakland and likes to ride bikes on the trails in the nearby hills.
Craig Allen is a photo editor on the International Desk at The New York Times. He assigns and edits photography and video for the daily report and larger news and enterprise projects, both on the web and in print.
Andreas has a long history with photography. Starting his career as a photo trainee, he went on to work as a freelance photojournalist for German daily newspapers and magazines including Bunte and Bild am Sonntag. In 1996, Andreas started working at Stern Magazine. He was first assigned Deputy of the Picture Desk before becoming the Director of Photography for nine years. Since February 2019, he has been Senior Picture Editor for the magazine.
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! Thank you to everyone who entered the competition this year, we love seeing the world through your eyes and getting a sense of contemporary street photography today.