The judges were overwhelmed with the number and quality of the entries from all over the world – it was very difficult to limit our selections and there are many worthy photographers and projects not included here simply because we had to draw the line somewhere. But we are delighted with the 2020 short-listed photographers, who are presented below in alphabetical order.
Solmaz Daryani is an Iranian photographer and photojournalist, based between the UK and Iran. Her work is particularly known for exploring the themes of climate security, climate change, water crisis, human identity and environment. Daryani has worked internationally, covering social and environmental documentary stories in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Her work has been published by international magazines and newspapers such as National Geographic Magazine, L’OBS Magazine, Foreign Policy Magazine, Polka Magazine, Zenith Magazine among others.
AFGHANISTAN: BETWEEN CLIMATE & CONFLICT
Afghanistan is ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, and one of the least equipped to handle what’s to come. Every year, droughts, floods, avalanches, and landslides seem to worsen, driving mass migration, poverty, and destabilization. This story is seeking to address the effects of climate change on women (particularly schoolgirls), farming families, population growth and rising conflict in Afghanistan. There is a body of evidence which concludes that that the best way to build resilience to climate change is to focus on girls and women – education, contraception, opportunity. Addressing women and food security would involve solutions such as education and using environmentally friendly farming for improving gender equality and food self-sufficiency. Educated and independent Afghan women will offer hope to climate resilience.
ANA CAROLINE DE LIMA
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Ana Caroline de Lima is an award-winning photographer, journalist and post graduate in anthropology. She believes that cultural and social immersion plays a crucial role in the documentary process, which has lead her to live and work in communities such as the Rajasthani in India, the Quechua in Ecuador and Peru, the Black Hmong in Vietnam and many indigenous communities in Brazil such as the Rikbaktsa, Yawalapiti and Xavante. Her work focuses on cultural practices, environmental and gender issues in traditional societies. She was nominated for the Royal Photography Society’s 100 heroines in 2018. Her work has been exhibited in more than 20 countries, in places such as the NUMA, Getty Museum and Oxo Tower in London.
The Rikbaktsa people are immemorial inhabitants of the Amazon – they had their the first contact with non-indigenous people in the 1960s. This contact brought diseases like the flu and measles, which decimated 75% of their people, as there were no viruses like those in the jungle previously. The pandemic has brought back the same fears their parents faced: a new, unknown disease, along with economical, cultural and environmental issues. The project shows how indigenous people are dealing with covid-19 – how they are trying to recover and face the world again. The work is created from the point of view of the indigenous people to shine a light on the struggles present within the tribes and to help non-indigenous people understand how to practise a better way of living.
Rehab Eldalil is a documentary photographer based in Egypt. Her creative practice focuses on the broad theme of identity, using collaborative approaches to involve communities in her work. She uses her personal background as a hijabi who experienced xenophobia in the US during 9/11 as creative motivation. She is drawn to topics that challenge linear identities and oriental ideologies. With rising issues on borders, stigma, and general loss of identity globally, her focus contributes to advocating for social justice and understanding.
KEEPERS OF THE LAND
This project explores how Bedouin communities in South Sinai, Egypt, are seeking citizen-led solutions to survive the pandemic. After years of drought, a major flood occurred in mid March, providing an agricultural opportunity against adversity. Bedouin communities have resorted to growing vegetables in the Sinai desert for self-sufficiency to combat the negative economic effects of Covid-19. The story focuses on individuals from the Bedouin community working to grow and harvest vegetables for their families and tribe and explores different ways, between modern and traditional methods of farming, to combat the crisis.
Fabiola Ferrero is a journalist and photographer born in Caracas in 1991. Her personal work is the result of how her childhood memories contrast with nowadays Venezuela, her home country. Looking to portray its crisis beyond the news, emotion is a key element in her storytelling. Among her recognitions are the Emerging Vision Award 2017 by DPF, World Press Photo Talent Program South America 2018 and Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellowship. Fabiola collaborates often with international media, such as The New York Times, Bloomberg and Le Monde.
BLURRED IN DESPAIR
Blurred in Despair aims to portray a collective mental state. Venezuela’s crisis involves a lot more than numbers and money. The increasing hostility of daily life has created debilitating psychological trauma for citizens, and people have begun to feel lost in their quest for survival. According to the “Emotional Map”, a study conducted by Venezuelan psychologist Yorelis Acosta, it appears that the country is collectively in a state of depression due to relentless exposure to hostile situations. When survival becomes a priority, happiness becomes a blurred concept. Blurred in Despair is a vehicle to educate my fellow countrymen about depression through public presentations in partnership with Yoreslis Acosta to help prevent fatal consequences.
Emily Garthwaite is a British photojournalist, Forbes 30 Under 30, and Leica Ambassador focusing on humanitarian and environmental issues. She has a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of Westminster and has exhibited her work internationally, including at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as well as the South Bank Centre and The Natural History Museum in London, UK. She has walked over 500km through Iraq documenting positive stories of resilience and empowerment and co-directed The 40th Day, a documentary covering Arbaeen, the world’s largest annual pilgrimage through Iraq.
THE ROAD TO ARBA’EEN
Arba’een is the world’s largest annual pilgrimage. Each year, as many as 25 million Shi’a Muslims converge on southern Iraq to mark the end of a 40-day mourning period. Pilgrims travel from all over the world to walk the 50 miles between the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. In doing so, they form a vast community that promotes peace and solidarity alongside their deep faith. Despite the unparalleled scale, and despite being both the largest number of people fed for free and the biggest volunteer gathering in the world, the commemoration is rarely covered by international media. Arba’een is of great importance both for Iraq and the Shi’a, but also for the wider region. It has endured great hardships, having been banned by Saddam Hussein, and remains a magnet for terrorist attacks. Today, its very existence speaks of resilience and offers a window into innumerable and significant stories.
Emilienne Malfatto is an independent documentary photographer from France. She focuses on post-conflict and social issues, especially in Iraq, developing long-term projects that allow her to have depth and closeness with her subjects. She studied in France and Colombia and graduated from Sciences Po Paris. She then joined Agence France Presse (AFP) and worked in France and in the Middle East. In early 2015 she moved to northern Iraq as a freelancer. She now works mostly in Iraq, with occasional reporting in Europe and Latin America.
Fallen angels is a visual and poetic exploration of the invisible: loss, pain, trauma, memories. Through portraiture, still life images and merged photographs, the sequence takes the viewer inside a collectively traumatised community: the Yezidis of Sinjar, in north-western Iraq. On August 3rd, 2014, this religious minority was attacked by the Islamic State group (ISIS). Thousands of people were killed or abducted. Of the half a million Yazidis in the world, more than 300,000 used to live in Sinjar. Today, little is left of this community. Some families came back to what they still consider their homeland – but it feels like a land of ghosts. The living ones are haunted by the dead, the memory of missing relatives and friends never fades. Time has passed, trauma hasn’t. This long-term project aims to raise awareness about this ongoing situation and show possible solutions: part of the work was done in collaboration with a mental health team from Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an NGO which has set up a safe space where people can talk and be heard without judgement or stigma, which is already a gigantic step in such a closed and remote community.
Nadège Mazars is a French photographer based in Colombia since 2007. Her approach strives to give an intimate insight into the effect of global issues such migration, healthcare system or natural resource extraction. She also explores both the origins of war and the conditions to reach peace in societies such as El Salvador and Colombia. She has twice been a Magnum Foundation grantee, in 2016 and 2019. Mazars has worked on assignment for publications such Wall Street Journal, Libération, Le Monde, Bloomberg Businessweek and Washington Post. She is part of OjoRojo Fábrica Visual, a foundation dedicated to documentary photography in Bogotá.
The project focuses on exploring the security abuses in the fight against gangs in El Salvador. This Central American country has faced violence due to gang presence and it has reached homicide rates that have placed it among the highest in the world. But the tightening of security policies without a public policy of reintegration has led to an excess of arbitrary detentions. Several NGOs as well as a special commission of the United Nations have pointed out these security abuses. The project also has a strong gender dimension: women are most often at the heart of the support for prisoners. The report seeks to raise awareness about security abuses by exposing several undocumented cases of unjust detentions and supporting their defence.
Nida Mehboob is a photographer & filmmaker based in Pakistan. She graduated as a pharmacist but left the field to pursue photography. She received a grant and fellowship by Magnum Foundation for their Social Justice Program in 2019. She has been selected as one of the only two Pakistanis to attend Berlinale Film Festival as a Talent in 2020. Her short films have screened at international film festivals including Locarno Open Doors 2018. Her topic of interests includes themes of social injustice varying from religious persecution and gender discrimination in Pakistan.
THE THIRD TUNE
Transgenders in Pakistan are discriminated against and looked down upon. Most of them are abandoned by their families at a very young age and are forced into a “Guru Chela” system that requires them to beg on the streets, do sex work and dance at parties for a living. Gang rape, torture and killing of transgenders is the norm where the abusers are often policemen, making it difficult to reach out for help and justice. However, some influential transgenders are fighting against this culture. This project is a visual record of the livelihood and daily life of marginalised trans-women. Deliberately choosing collaborators who are fighting for their rights and making a mark in their respective fields, this project is an attempt to break stereotypes and false generalisations without taking away attention from the real issue.
Lee-Ann Olwage is a visual storyteller and photographic artist from South Africa. Her work is all about identity, collaboration, and celebration. She is interested in using the medium as a mode of co-creation. With her long term projects, she aims to create a space where people she collaborates with can play an active part in the creation of images to tell their stories in a way that is affirming and celebratory. In 2020 she was awarded a World Press Photo Award, Palm Photo Prize shortlist, CAP Prize shortlist, and selected for The New York Times Portfolio Review. She is a member of Native Agency and Women Photograph.
#Blackdragmagic is a collaborative project by photographer, Lee-Ann Olwage, and drag artist and activist Belinda Qaqamba Kafassie. The project tells the stories of black queer, gender-nonconforming, and transgender people who grew up in the townships of South Africa, where they have to navigate their daily lives. The project is about augmenting the power in these stories of daily township spatial navigation. The aim was to reclaim public spaces in a community where members of the LGBTQI+ community are subject to violence, discrimination, and harassment as part of everyday life.
Viviana Peretti is an Italian photographer based between Bogota and New York where in 2010 she graduated in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism from the International Center of Photography. In 2000, after graduating with a BA in Anthropology in Italy, she moved to Colombia where she completed an MA in Journalism. In 2010, Viviana was selected for the Eddie Adams Workshop in NY. In 2013, she was an Artist-in-Residence at L’École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (ENSP) in Arles. In 2014, she was elected Photographer of the Year at the Sony World Photography Awards’ Arts & Culture category. In 2015, Viviana was a Camargo Foundation Fellow in France and in 2017 she was a Bogliasco Foundation Fellow in Italy.
UNDER THE VEIL
I plan to expand my seven year-long ongoing project about forced disappearance in Colombia. The victimisers have covered Colombia’s landscape and conscience with a large veil under, which voices and bones were silenced and hidden. My photographic search aims to lift that veil, betraying power and its efforts not to leave a physical imprint of the crime. ‘Under the veil’ will embody the frustration of collecting fragments to rebuild stories and identities. Any attempt to approach the crime of forced disappearance is always complex. Fundamentally, because the nature of the crime and the context in which it is committed, ferociously seek to hide any trace of it. I will use photography to build the impossible: a visual tribute to the absent.
Christina Simons is an award-winning international documentary photographer focused on human rights and civil liberties. Her work is driven by the exploration of sub-cultures and marginalised people, leading to exhibitions throughout Australia, the US, England, Spain, Russia and Mexico. Part Icelandic & American, she resides in Australia as a true citizen of the world speaking multiple languages. Her work traverses many interests including travel, lifestyle and portraiture and is represented in publications such as The New York Times and The Guardian as well as working with several NGOs such as Medicines Sans Frontiers and UNICEF.
AUSTRALIAN APOCALYPSE – THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRES
From late 2019 to early 2020 bushfires ravaged over 10 million hectares of Australia, killing nearly 30 people and an estimated half a billion animals. The country is left in a dilapidated state, which suggests our climate crisis is at a tipping point. In light of the current Covid-19 circumstances in many of these areas, most people have barely had a chance to even begin to get their lives back together when all of a sudden they find themselves in lockdown without homes to isolate to. And their story of this awful occurrence has been overshadowed by the epidemic. I would like to return to the regions that originally covered in January of 2020 one year later to record the recovery and regrowth of land, animals and nature to show hope and renewal after such major trauma.
Valentina Sinis is an Italian photographer living and working in China. Her work gravitates toward the quirky and unusual. She is attracted to realities and people that normally don’t get coverage in the media. Her pictures have been published in several international newspapers and magazines. Her works have been showcased in several exhibitions in Europe and China, and she has been a guest on Italian public television in several news broadcasts to present her works, due to the social relevance of the projects.
Domestic violence and physical abuse at home is a global issue. But nowhere is more prevalent than in societies whose foundation values are still patriarchal. In these societies women have no escape but submission, and those who can’t submit, have very little alternatives. Broken Princess is the story of women in Iraqi Kurdistan who tried to escape the violence by setting themselves on fire. Those who survive are left with terrible physical scars and possibly harder psychological ones: they regret their choice but have a very limited social structure to lean on for recovery. With little support or visibility, they find themselves in a place that is worse, if possible, than before. The project will be a complete body of work, made using photography, video and text. A balanced approach of narrative – daily shots, dreams, suffering, memories, will be paired with factual evidence providing the wider context I am looking for. The actual end result I aspire for is that this body of work acts as a catalyst to provide better opportunities for women to live in better conditions.
Sarah Stacke is an American photojournalist based in New York. Her work looks at places whose borders were created during periods of colonisation. Often spending time with a community for several years, she explores the intersection of culture and memory and the ways relationships to the land and its boundaries shape identity. Sarah’s work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic and NPR, among others. She’s an adjunct faculty member at ICP and CUNY Craig Newmark School of Journalism, and the author of the award-winning book, Photos Day or Night: The Archive of Hugh Mangum (Red Hook Editions).
In the Great Smoky Mountains, home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI), the tribe is reclaiming culturally and historically important lands lost during colonization. Purchases include Kituwah, a sacred site considered the place of origin for Cherokee people and a separate site known as the birthplace of Sequoyah, who invented the Cherokee syllabary. Instead of the stereotypical scenes of poverty associated with reservations, we see the beauty of the land and tribal members’ interactions with it. Reclaiming ownership of stolen lands speaks directly to the EBCI’s investment in the preservation and future of their people.
NICKY QUAMINA WOO
Nicky Quamina-Woo is an American documentary photographer who divides her time between East Africa & New York. Her fascination with the tenacity of the human spirit deeply influences her approach to image making. As a Black woman her work has been centered on exploring the transmogrified effects of trauma within communities. Specifically, the ways in which collective suffering and its myriad embers can change the underlying ethos of groups to form something new; adaptation not only as a means of survival but morphology that integrates and syncretizes with the culture in the effort of healing.
AS THE WATER COMES
Africa, with its abundant natural resources, is often overlooked when it comes to environmental issues though it suffers heightened effects of desertification, soil erosion, and insect infestations. One such issue is in northern Senegal, where hundreds of families have been evacuated as their houses have been destroyed by the rising sea levels and inhabitants forced to move to tent cities when their homes are no longer habitable. Efforts to deal with these problems are often ignored or severely handicapped by a failure to understand their nature and act on possible remedies that incorporate residents needs. One such area, Doun Baba Dieye, had to be abandoned as the village was completely submerged in 2009 after authorities dug a channel through a small peninsula that initially protected the residents against the oceans surge. The hope is that with a larger spotlight pointed at the government it will start to shift its response to climate change, which needs more public participation and an integration of local knowledge – particularly as it relates to key economic activities like fishing and agriculture.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO ALL THE DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHERS AROUND THE WORLD WHO SUBMITTED THEIR PROPOSALS TO THE MARILYN STAFFORD FOTOREPORTAGE AWARD 2020.
WE SALUTE YOU ALL FOR THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU ARE DOING – YOU ARE STRONG, BRAVE, CREATIVE, INTELLIGENT WOMEN SEEKING TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE – THE WORLD NEEDS YOU – PLEASE CONTINUE.
THE MARILYN STAFFORD FOTOREPORTAGE AWARD WINNER 2020 TO BE ANNOUNCED 26 JUNE.
Cover image featured © Nadège Mazars