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Marcela Quintana is an undergraduate student doing her thesis on cedar research at the National Department of Plant Genetic Resources (DENAREF). Quito, Ecuador, 16 September 2020. © Isadora Romero

FotoDocument, Nikon and Marilyn Stafford are delighted to announce the winner, runner up and honourable mentions for the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award 2021.

Sustainability and global food security are topics addressed in a documentary work which has been awarded the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award 2021, announced today. Photographer Isadora Romero has been awarded the prestigious prize of £2000 for her project ‘Muyu Lab’, a documentary series about the conservation of agrobiodiversity in Ecuador from both a scientific and ancestral perspective and the positive impact for the environment and future generations.




Isadora Romero said, “I am very excited to receive this recognition, honoring a long history of courageous and pioneering women journalists and storytellers. It motivates me to continue to tell this story from the communities that fight against the loss of diversity and it allows me to give visibility to an issue that has been under-reported in the visual arts but that is urgent – not only because of what it means for our local communities but also for the future of humanity and the environment.”


Isadora Romero has exhibited her work in the Americas and Europe. She was selected for the Joop Swart Masterclass 2020 and the Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Social Justice Fellowship 2021. She was invited to be the 2019 Antarctic Artist in Residence at INAE. She won individually and collectively two National Geographic emergency funds as well as a Magnum Foundation emergency grant. Winner of second place in environmental issues at Poy Latam 2020 she also won an honorable mention in the 2019 Photobook contest. She is the winner of the Photojournalism for Peace Prize and the Ecuadorian Culture Grant in 2017. She is the finalist of the Ilia photo contest of Rome, as well as of the Magnum Foundation’s Inge Morath award among other recognitions. She is the co-founder of Ruda Colectiva, a Latin American women photographers collective. Her multimedia works have been projected in various countries of America, Europe, and Africa between 2015 and 2018. She has worked with media outlets and NGOs around the world. She has also been a tutor in Latin America being invited for the Colloquium of photography in Mexico, and to lead a photographer’s residence in Chile, 2019. She is the leader of the Women photograph chapter in Quito and a member of Women Photograph, Diversify Photo, and the everyday projects.





This essay explores the efforts for the conservation of Agrobiodiversity in Ecuador from two points of view: the scientific and the ancestral.

Crop diversity is crucial in guaranteeing long-term food security, yet this diversity is getting lost at alarming rates. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, since the 1900s, some 75% of plant genetic diversity has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local varieties and landraces for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties.

In Ecuador, there are initiatives to curb this erosion. Ancestral communities have been preserving, domesticating, exchanging, and improving seeds for generations, and the national germplasm bank in Quito houses more than 28,000 accessions to generate the strongest seeds without genetic modification.

These two worlds don’t often dialogue. The symbolism in both works different even though they have the same objective.

Scientists focus on the food security of future generations, trying to iron out the indicators of world hunger. Forcing nature to its maximum productivity levels. While the medicine women of Imbabura told me that they heal with seeds. That the variety in the colors ensures that we can cure ourselves.

As a photographer, I am trying to make visible these efforts to preserve the diversity of our crops, especially in a world that continues to both question the validity of science and deny indigenous knowledge. My intention is that this work can put on the conversation table the urgent topic of food sovereignty and honor our communities.


Mama Josefina Lema leads a ritual of Kuya Raymi and Tarapuy Pacharaymi. Ancestral festival that celebrates Mother Earth at the beginning of the fertility season. This is a very important celebration in the agricultural calendar because it marks the beginning of sowing and is also a tribute to femininity. In the community of Camuendo Chico in Imbabura-Ecuador. Josefina is a guardian of seeds and a medicine woman. She uses the variety of seeds to prepare treatments for her patients. “Seeds are health, the more colors and varieties, the more diseases we can cure”



Palette of antothypes made with the juice of the products that are harvested in the community of Camuendo Chico, Imbabura- Ecuador.





Stefanie Silber said, “I feel so much joy to be the runner up of the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award 2021. I can’t believe I have been selected out of the remarkable group of photographers and projects on the shortlist. I have great hope that this award will open doors to families, communities and funders to realise my dream of a touring exhibition.”



Stefanie Silber (b. 1975) is a German documentary photographer. Her work focuses on issues such as trauma, loneliness and grief. She studied Photojournalism in Hanover, Germany in 2014 to pursue her dreams after sustaining physical injuries from an accident, and moving on from her previous career in graphic design. Since 2017 she has been supporting families who have experienced grief from a stillbirth. Silber received a BFF Grant in 2018 and undertook a Nikon Masterclass in 2019. Awards for her work ‘Loud Silence’ include Stiftung Kulturwerk 2021; Ian Parry Special Award 2020 and Canon Student Development Programme 2019. Her work has been included in several group exhibitions in Germany and Poland.







‘Loud Silence’ is a collaborative work about families living with stillbirth. Silber’s work isn’t just about death – it is also about life, which is particularly perceptible at the edge of death. Families worldwide are affected. WHO counted 2.6 million stillborn babies in 2015 after 28th week of pregnancy, but the number of earlier weeks is much higher, and also relevant for grieving. It is Silber’s intention that all families who participate in the work will benefit from the project through supported grief work.


After having a stillborn baby, this mother is hoping that everything might go well with her next pregnancy. They moved to a new flat. The boy was born healthy some months later in Hannover, Germany © Stefanie Silber





Danielle Villasana for her project ‘Abre Camino’ on the issues facing trans migrants in Central America and their search for safety in Mexico and the US.

Danielle Villasana said, “I’m so honored that “Abre Camino” and these incredibly courageous, resilient women have been recognized by the Marilyn Stafford Award, FotoDocument, and the judges. I hope that through raising awareness through platforms such as this one, their stories will help educate people about the challenges and dangers transgender women face not only in their home countries but on their migration journeys as they seek safety and freedom from discrimination.”






For nearly a decade, I’ve documented the life-threatening challenges facing trans women in Latin America, the deadliest region in the world for transgender people. My current project, “Abre Camino,” documents how trans women in Central America are further threatened by the region’s endemic violence, forcing many to flee their home countries. From Central America to Mexico, I’ve documented trans women affected by the push and pull factors at home and on their journey where they’re put at further risk as trans migrants. By following women long-term like Kataleya Nativi Baca, who was beat up by her brother in Honduras shortly before migrating and encountered countless difficulties in Mexico, I strive to paint a more truthful, humanistic portrait of trans and migrant identities, which are often narrowly portrayed through a one-dimensional lens in mainstream media. My ultimate goal upon completing this project is to create a photo-based, information-driven resource guide for trans migrants with the stories I’ve documented throughout the Americas. From fleeing home and carrying out their journeys to seeking asylum and resettlement, this booklet can serve as a reliable source of knowledge and a positive source of social impact.


From left to right: Samantha, Alexa, and Escarle talk together in Escarle’s room in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 29, 2019. While Latin America leads the world in homicides of transgender people at 80 percent, in Central America trans women are further threatened by the endemic violence from gangs, clients, police, and even family. Honduras is one of the worldÕs seven most dangerous countries to be LGBTQIA and many trans women migrate north toward Mexico and the United States to seek safety. © Danielle Villasana



Silvia Landi for her project ‘Globesity’ on how the global obesity crisis impacts on the poorest communities of the world and steps to overcome it.

Silvia Landi said, “The honorable mention received by the Marilyn Stafford Fotoreportage Award will allow me to give more visibility to my project, it’s an important encouragement to continue my work and more easily reach the next goals.”




For long time hunger and malnutrition have been considered the main problems affecting low and middle-income countries, but a new threat so-called Globesity is now looming large in the world. Indeed, for the first time in human history, the world has more overweight than underweight people and obesity is more common than undernutrition particularly among poorest population groups. The causes of this phenomenon, must be sought in the food poor quality and in the lack of opportunity and access by the poorest population groups to quality food and adequate medical care.
Yet compared to undernutrition, the international community is collectively failing to address the issue. To date, no country has reversed its obesity epidemic with exorbitant health and social costs. Globesity is a long term project born to pay attention on the obesity epidemic, documenting this complex phenomenon with a global vision, in contexts where relation between obesity and poverty is particularly striking, and an opportunity to provides a different perspective on the impact of global food system, food insecurity, and obesogenic environment on vulnerable people around the world. In the current context of economic slowdown, obesity is expected to become the largest social and economic problem in the world, outlining new forms of poverty and social exclusion.


Rio de Janeiro, Educap Educational Center, Complexo de Alemão, bairro Canitar.
A portrait of Simone Meirelez, 33 years old. Two years ago Simone underwent a bariatric surgery. After a massive weight loss, excess skin was removed. Scars are still visible on her body. Simone said that even after the operation, she has to work hard to avoid gaining weight, follow a very restrictive diet and take many supplements and vitamins. In Brazil over the last decade obesity rate has nearly doubled to 20%, and the portion of people who are overweight has nearly tripled to 58% (WHO, PAHO, 2015). It is also the second country in the world in number of bariatric surgery, with more than 95,000 per year, behind only United States (Marin J. at all 2016). © Silvia Landi


Rehab Eldalil for her project ‘The Longing of the Stranger whose Path has been Broken’ about the Bedouin community in Egypt and their search for belonging and connection to the land.

Rehab Eldalil said, “It’s a true privilege to receive an honourable mention for the Marilyn Stafford Fotoreportage award 2021 and to be recognized for my personal project which focuses on celebrating the Bedouin community who like many other indigenous communities have long been misrepresented.”




The Longing Of The Stranger Whose Path Has Been Broken (2018-ongoing) is a personal project in which I reconnect to my roots and work collaboratively with the Bedouin community to explore the notion of belonging and the interconnectedness of people and land.

The project focuses on the process of finding and seeking the meaning of belonging cited through the Bedouin community of St. Catherine, South Sinai, Egypt. The community are participants in the creative process. Commentating on the photographic work using embroidery, poetry, sound and storytelling. The final outcome of the project is a complementary collection of photographs and multimedia.

The project attempts to understand the layers of an identity and the intertwined connections between people and land which defines the notion of belonging. In doing so, I aim to raise questions and create a dialogue on the meaning of identity and search for belonging. It’s a common human emotion to seek a definition of one’s identity, yet its complexity is often ignored, creating linear labels and othering. With this dialogue I’m building a bridge between the voices of the Bedouin community and western audiences who have long seen Bedouins and many indigenous communities through a linear and romanticized gaze.


Poetry in the Bedou’ culture is a daily practice of self expression, embedded in the Bedou’ blood. The project collects original poetry written by male members of the community to then be depicted in photographs or vice versa, resulting in a series of diptychs illustrating this conversation between mediums. Mohamed Ghonim (12) adjusts his scarf as he plays with his friends in Gharba Valley. Sheikh Awad village, South Sinai, Egypt, March 2020. © Rehab Eldalil


Viviana Peretti for her extensive project ‘Under the Veil’ paying tribute to the ‘disappeared’ of Colombia.

Viviana Peretti said, “During the last seven years, I have documented the crime of forced disappearance in Colombia. The perpetrators of the crime covered the landscape with a large veil under which voices and bones were silenced and hidden. Receiving an honorable mention from the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award 2021 for the work I did is a great encouragement to keep ripping that veil, betraying power and its attempts not to leave a physical imprint of the crime.”





Since 2013, I am documenting the crime of forced disappearance that has transformed Colombia into a huge, anonymous, mass grave. During decades, Colombian army and security forces have not guarded borders or seek international conflicts. All energy –and perversity– was focused within borders. According to many, the murder and concealment of the bodies of tens of thousands of people are only collateral damage of a ‘development’ fueled by blood. Death squads and paramilitary blocs were responsible for directly committing the crimes or supporting covert actions by the military. The paramilitary project as a state policy allowed the counter-insurgency doctrine of the internal enemy to be applied. ‘Under the veil’ tries to make visible what the offenders want to remain invisible. Many victims of forced disappearance have been erased up to the last physical expression of their bodies. Others remained below any of the multiple rivers or mountains that cross the country. Colombian authorities have trivialized, minimized, denied forced disappearance and extrajudicial crimes. My project aims to show what many try to hide. I have pursued the story of forced disappearance as a personal project, using analogue medium format and panoramic cameras.


During 16 years, indigenous woman Doña Analigia has been searching for the bones of Roberto Antonio, her 25-year-old son, who was tortured, killed and dismembered by paramilitaries in the Toldas de Peque village in Antioquia. Doña Analigia still dreams with her son telling her: “I had a mother, I had a father, I had brothers and they weren’t able to bury me, but they let me eat by the buzzards.” The dress she’s wearing was given to her by her son a few days before he disappeared. The disappeared and their beloved have been sentenced to inhabit a gray area, a limbo between life and death. Forced disappearance deprives families of the opportunity to perform the most human of acts: mourning. The photograph was taken in the headquarters of ‘Madres de La Candelaria’, an organization created in Medellín in 1999 in response to the many forced disappearances taking place in the country. Every Friday the members meet in the city center of Medellín to protest and drive attention to their cause. Medellín, Antioquia region, Colombia, July 2016. © Viviana Peretti


Hannah Jarzabek ‘No Applause for Domestic Workers’ on the working conditions and lives of domestic workers in Spain.

Hanna Jarzabek said, “I feel extremely grateful for this honorable mention and to be supported by an institution that believes in this kind of project.”








During the hardest part of the pandemic, people showed their recognition for health workers applauding each day, but domestic workers, often exposed to the daily risk of contagion and indispensable to ensure the proper functioning of many families, lacked this recognition. Their work is not always valued fairly, many suffer abusive schedules, can be fired at any time, and those without legal papers risk even more severe exploitation, although they are central in our society, and still we know little about their lives or what they often have to endure.

In this project I document photographically various aspects of the life of domestic worker registering at the same time their testimonies in audio format and editing them as podcasts. My purpose, once the project is finished, is to organize a travelling street exhibition composed by photographs and podcasts, as well as a series of open meetings. The objective here is to raise awareness about the life and work conditions of domestic workers and to promote reflection on their importance in our daily lives and on the changes that are necessary in this sector.


Delia, 54, lives in a small room, hidden from the world and next to the garage, she had the right to sleep in the children’s room on Friday nights, while the parents partied. She spent the holidays with her bosses, on the Canary Islands and during this time she had to be dressed in a uniform everywhere: on the plane, on the beach playing with the children and on excursions. © Hanna Jarzabek




Submissions were reviewed by international panel including: Andrea Bruce – award-winning photojournalist, co-owner NOOR photo agency, Nikon ambassador; Donna De Cesare – award-winning photojournalist, associate professor University of Texas; Nina Emett – award-winning founding director FotoDocument, documentary photographer; Melanie Friend – documentary photographer; Neo Ntsoma award-winning photojournalist, founder Neo Ntsoma Productions; Marilyn Stafford and her daughter, honorary judge, Lina Clerke.


Marilyn Stafford said, “It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners and honourable mentions for 2021. It never ceases to amaze me how these fantastic women pursue such important stories, especially with so many challenges to overcome in the current circumstances. Both the winner and runner up are focussing on issues that are globally important and yet they are under-reported so my heart-felt congratulations go to them both and to each of the honourable mentions. My sincere thanks also goes to FotoDocument for facilitating this award and to Nikon for supporting it so generously.”


Amy Walsh, PR & Social Media Manager, Nikon Northern Europe added, “Nikon feels incredibly privileged to support the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award for a third consecutive year. The submissions this year were world class – we were truly blown away by the calibre of the work and the poignancy of the projects. Congratulations to Isadora Romero on a striking photo essay which draws attention to the positive ramifications of agrobiodiversity in Ecuador, and to our runner up and honorable mentions who are all drawing light on incredibly moving global issues and the solutions people the world-over are implementing to create positive change.”


Nina Emett, founding Director of FotoDocument said, “It takes huge amounts of courage, tenacity, passion, compassion and talent to realise a long-form documentary photography project. This award recognises the women who go to extraordinary lengths to create their final work in order to tell such important and under-reported stories with a focus on positive impact. It has been a great pleasure to review the entries again this year and to be able to honour these remarkable women. We are very grateful to be able to facilitate this award in honour of Marilyn Stafford and for the support of Nikon who believe in the vision.”


The final work by both winner and runner up will feature on the FotoDocument website in the coming weeks and will be published via social media @fotodocment and @nikonuknordic and a series of works by those with honorable mentions will also be published on these digital platforms.


Women from any stage of their careers can apply for the Award, whether emerging, mid-career or established. They must have completed at least one full documentary photo essay to demonstrate track record. Entries are always free and this year we received submissions from across the globe, including Armenia, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and the UK.


We send our sincerest thanks to everyone who supports and applies to this prestigious award.

It is to recognise all the brave women who dedicate their lives to telling under-reported visual stories which are intended to make the world a better place.

You can follow us on @fotodocument