ZEISS Photography Award 2017: The Shortlist

March 14, 2017 ZEISS LENSPIRE Team

Kevin Faingnaert won the ZEISS Photography Award 2017 “Seeing Beyond – Meaningful Places” with his photo series Føroyar.  

Indeed we received many other great pictures from all over the world – more than 30.000 in total. Have a closer look at the nine shortlisted photo series and the photographers’ descriptions.


Anna Filipova, UK
“Research at the end of the world”

Ny-Ålesund is situated on the 79°N parallel on Svalbard Archipelago, which makes it the most northerly civilian settlement in the world. It is unique and one of the most peculiar places on earth, housing the largest laboratory for modern Arctic research in existence alongside a predominant population who are research scientists.

This unique collective of men and women become the inquisitive global ambassadors for the many countries they represent: Norway, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, India, South Korea, China among others.

Even though the settlement is located away from major sources of human pollution, the atmospheric circulation brings air from Europe and North America into the region. This creates a unique environment on two counts: firstly for the observation of post global warming conditions and secondly in creating a concentration of international scientific research and collaboration between nations.

It has a very restricted access both because of the scientific project that are conducted and the measuring instruments that are situated around the area. To come to the settlement you have to be either a scientist working on a project with one of the stations or maintaining the infrastructure of the place.

Even-though there are many rules and regulations in Svalbard to protect the wildlife and preserve environment, one can see the human activity trough the scientific instruments, which are gradually becoming part of the landscape.

© Anna Filipova, United Kingdom, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

 Mario Adario, Italy
“Ethiopian Christmas Pilgrimage to Lalibela”

These pictures were taken in January 2015 during the Ethiopian Christmas, when pilgrims from all over the country flock to the sacred city of Lalibela to pray in the famous rock-hewn churches.

I camped with the pilgrims just out of town and were able to take these shots over the three days culminating with the Christmas Day (January 7) celebrations.

© Mario Adario, Italy, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

Christopher Roche, UK

Devotion is a photographic project that explores the different peoples’ faith traditions across the world.

The photographer, Christopher Roche, hopes to see beyond the dogma and capture the common humanity behind these traditions.

Similar rituals such as pilgrimage, prayer and meditation practiced in differing parts of the world reveal a shared thirst for spiritual fulfillment that goes beyond our superficial differences.

From the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet to the rock hewn churches of Ethiopia; from the Sufi shrines of Iran to the burning Ghats of India and the animists in the Peruvian Andes, the project captures both the intimate and epic nature of varied spiritual practices.

It is the photographer’s experience that many of the ancient devotional traditions that have been central to the culture of these regions for hundreds if not thousands of years are now under threat from the forces of globalization, mass tourism, political oppression and even global warming. This photographic project hopes be a testament to the importance of these traditions and to capture the essence of a deep and universal aspect of the human condition.

© Christopher Roche, United Kingdom, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

Sonja Hamad, Germany
“»Jin – Jiyan – Azadi« Women, Life, Freedom”

It is said that death at the hands of a woman deters a martyr from entering paradise !

Approximately one third of all Kurdish fighters in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) are women. Unafraid of death and fulfilled by their passion for their homeland and their love for their families and people, these women muster up the courage to face the heavily armed IS in Syria. One of their most recent victories includes the recapturing of the City of Kobane in northern Syria from the IS earlier this year as well as rescuing the Yezidi people in Sindscha City from genocide. At home, they are celebrated as heroes.

Because the Women’s libertarians movement is deeply rooted in the ideology of the PKK-movement, there are about 10.000 women aged 15-45 years old who have joined the female political party.

PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan stated that “The land can not be free when woman are not free” and that, for him, the freedom of women is more important than the freedom of the homeland.

The IS barbaric persecution of women is systematically and ideologically grounded. The IS stands for an ideological world-view according to which women are seen as inhumane beings without rights and freedom. The IS has kidnapped hundreds of Kurdish Yazidi women in Sindscha and sold them as sex slaves on markets, raped, and even beheaded them. It is in this context that the IS approves the most direct, extreme, and crass forms of patriarchy, sexism, and feudalism.

It is this sense of hopelessness that fuels these women’s fighting spirits and equips them with a nothing- to-lose- buteverything-to- win attitude. For this reason, large numbers of women of all ages from all over Kurdistan find themselves drawn to join the battle. While some join the Saturday Mothers in the Turkish parts, others choose to take part in the guerilla forces or YPJ-fighters who are fighting in the mountainous regions of northern Syria, West Kurdistan. These women refuse to succumb to the patriarchical view of the role of women that regards women as objects, trapped in their homes, and upholding the family’s honour. It is without exaggeration to say that one could describe the current Kurdish feminist movement – viewed from a military, ideological, and organizational perspective – as the world’s strongest movement on behalf of the rights of women.

The YPG/YPY (People’s Defence Unit) belongs to the military part of the PYD (Democratic Union Party) which is said to belong to the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). The PKK mainly consists of guerilla fighters who originate from the Kurdish Kandil mountains. For my project I will focus on the female Kurdish free- dom fighters of the YPJ, as well as the Kurdish guerillas and will document their endeavour in a series to be solely dedicated to them and, thus, the first one of its kind.

© Sonja Hamad, Germany, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

Ben Bond Obiri Asamoah, Ghana
“Portrait of the North”

Being a fashion and portrait photographer who lives and works in Accra, my perception of “the beautiful” has been mediated by impressive architecture, high rise building, attractive surroundings, urban music and clothes, cosmetic environments and a whole lot “plastic aesthetic” that can be associated with the city .So traveling to the Bolgatanga in the upper east of Ghana afforded me the chance to experience “another beauty”; raw uncut, everyday ,un polished beauties embodied in different personalities and different environments I came across . Speaking with the people and negotiating for permission to shoot them, gave me a chance to listen to different narratives unfamiliar to my experience in the city and also appreciate many beautifully contrasting and paradoxical situations; The spontaneous people as against the carefully selected models /spontaneous settings against”cosmetic” studios/ordinary clothes as against stylish clothes of fashion models / and oh! No “super talented” M.U.As.

So in creating this documentary project I used the “lens of glamour” (as associated with my fashion photography) to capture the mundane. Every image captured in this project is a portal to the different narratives and experiences of the different people and environments I came across. I tried to capitalize on the magic of photographs, to scrutinize how my experience of the rural could be embodied in the image. So I find many resemblances between the glamorous (that am used to) and the mundane and also I appreciate a certain fantastic order that can be found in the spontaneous.

© Ben Bond Obiri Asamoah, Ghana, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

Frederik Buyckx, Belgium
“Horse Head”

Semi-nomadic life in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has always been a nation of horsemen and has rich nomadic heritage and traditions that have been woven into the identity of the Kyrgyz people. During summer months, many families continue to graze their herds in mountain meadows, called jailoos, preserving old customs and ways of nomadic life. In winter the shepherds and their livestock have to deal with incredible harsh weather conditions in the mostly mountainous terrain. Most winter evenings these days are spent in front of a television and the warmth of an always-burning stove. And although even the isolated areas often have cellphone reception nowadays, most of their daily life hasn’t changed much in the last decades.

The horse has always had a central role in their semi-nomadic life. It is crucial to herd their animals in the mountains and the horse is also indispensable for its milk and meat.

Also the Kyrgyz like to spend their leisure time on the back of a horse and they often play games in which horsemanship dominates all competitions, like Kok Boru in which teams on horse fight over a carcass of a sheep.

© Frederik Buyckx, Belgium, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

 Nicholas White, UK
“Black Dots”

As the winds charge through the bealach it takes every effort to forge onwards as rivulets soak the track and the peat moulds itself around your boots. You trudge on under the watchful eyes of a Stag who appears un-phased by this sudden arrival of foul weather.

Descending from the mountain pass and into the shelter of a glen, you trace the burn: in spate and unfordable. In fading light you identify a small building; four stone walls, a metal roof and a single chimney stack on one end. This is a bothy. Far from civilisation and only accessible by foot, this stone-tent provides welcome relief from the elements. For fifty years, volunteers from the Mountain Bothy Association have maintained these primitive shelters. Unlocked and free to use, they provide a refuge from the vast terrain that surrounds them and have become an iconic feature of the British Landscape. From day trippers to seasoned mountaineers, the growing community of bothy-users is diverse yet connected by a mutual desire to seek fulfilment from our most wild and lonely places.

Black Dots is a study of these bothies and the temporary inhabitants they attract. From the rugged coastal hideaways of Cape Wrath to the snowy munros of The Cairngorm Mountains, it is my hope that the work will generate a wider dialogue celebrating the relationship between man and wilderness in the 21st century. The photographs were taken over a period of two years and shot on Large Format 5×4.

© Nicholas White, United Kingdom, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

Fabian Muir, Australia
“Shades of Leisure in North Korea”

Mention of  ‘North Korea’ evokes a very specific mental image, dominated by military parades, the leaders and the famine of the 1990s. Yet life there is far more layered than that and there are many unseen sides that escape mainstream attention.

In the spirit of ‘seeing beyond’, this series of images from all over the country depicts sides of North Korea that are rarely shown, in an attempt to go past the cliché and open unexpected perspectives to the viewer.

No, life in North Korea is by no means one of constant singing, visits to the beach or fun fairs. But nor is it a constant military parade or weapon’s test.

© Fabian Muir, Australia, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

Nicky Newman, South Africa
“Place of Water”

Whenever I’m stressed or sad, the moment I’m in, or near water, I calm down instantly, which is why I have an ongoing love affair with The Pavilion, a special public pool in Cape Town, separated from the ocean by a single wall with Robin Island visible across the sea.

I’ve swum here since I was a child. In those dark days, the pool was by law, for white people only. I imagine the many children looking longingly at the water on blistering summer days, wondering why they couldn’t swim there too.

25 years later, thankfully that madness is over and it’s now a place where different nationalities, ages and races play freely together. I marvel at how one large square of water can be such a leveler as we encounter each other semi-naked, how it lightens the spirits and bodies of almost everyone who visits.

I really love taking pictures here, of laughter, joy and flight, decrepit old bodies unfolding into the water, babies discovering it for the first time, people exercising, tourists and school kids.

This pool holds many personal memories for me. When my father was dying a grizzly death, I spent every minute with him. Eventually, exhausted I went to the pool to give myself a break. While I was there, the call came to say my dad had died and I instinctually jumped in and my tears mingled with the salt water as it helped absorb the shock from my body.

© Nicky Newman, South Africa, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award


Learn more about the results of the ZEISS Photography Award 2017 “Seeing Beyond – Meaningful Places” and the winner Kevin Faingnaert here: “ZEISS Photography Award 2017: The winner has been chosen”


The post ZEISS Photography Award 2017: The Shortlist appeared first on LENSPIRE - The new ZEISS photography platform.

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