The World Photography Organisation has announced the winners of the Sony World Photography Awards 2018, and the Photographer of the Year title has gone to Alys Tomlinson with her series Ex-Voto. Ex-Votos are offerings left by pilgrims as signs of gratitude and devotion, and Tomlinson’s work grew out of her interest in these markers. She shot the series at pilgrimage sites in Lourdes in France, Ballyvourney in Ireland and Grabarka in Poland, and it encompass formal portraiture, large format landscape photography, and small, detailed still lives of the objects and markers left behind. Ex-Voto has garnered widespread attention, earning Tomlinson a spot on the shortlist for BJP’s International Photography Award and the 2017 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, and winning the Hotshoe Award/Renaissance Photography Prize. The SWPA judges praised the series for its beautiful production, technical excellence and sensitive illustration of pilgrimage as a journey of discovery and sacrifice, and winning the SWPA has won Tomlinson $25,000. The SWPA Open Photographer of the Year award went to Bulgarian photographer Veselin Atanasov, a self-taught IT specialist who …
“Tu sais qu’est-ce que c’est le rayon vert?” Marie Rivière’s listless character Delphine asks, her legs swinging, in Éric Rohmer’s 1986 film Le Rayon Vert [The Green Ray]. The film – a portrait of its main character’s halting search for summer romance – was based on Jules Verne’s 1882 novel of the same name. While in theory its title refers to an optical phenomenon - in which the appearance of the sun as it rises or falls beyond the horizon creates a brief flash of green, and with it a supposed moment of mental clarity for all those who see it - in reality its subject matter is far more elusive. “I related the ‘rayon vert’ phenomenon to the process of photography – this special and quick moment that happens rarely,” Swiss photographer Senta Simond explains, referring to her project of the same name. Her series, which will be published by Kominek and shown at London's Webber Gallery soon, adds a new, compelling layer to the meteorological event/Jules Verne/ Éric Rohmer mix of references. Indeed, Simond, a former student of ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne, from which she graduated last summer, first encountered the concept via the 1986 film.
"The stories that grabbed my attention were those created through unique personal approaches with a clear vision and a rich visual vocabulary," says Noriko Hayashi, a Panos Pictures photographer who was a Joop Swart participant in 2015, and a judge for this year's competition. Established in 1994, the Joop Swart Masterclass aims to reward the most talented emerging visual journalists and is designed to boost diversity in visual journalism and storytelling. This year 219 candidates from all over the world were nominated, and the 12 participants are: Mustafah Abdulaziz (US), Sharon Castellanos (Peru), Sabiha Cimen (Turkey), Samar Hazboun (Palestine), Alexandra Rose Howland (US), Katinka Hustad (Norway), Ksenia Kuleshova (Russia), Philip Montgomery (US), Léonard Pongo (Belgium), Ashfika Rahman (Bangladesh), Tasneem Alsultan (Saudi Arabia), and Cansu Yildiran (Turkey). There are also two runners-up, Alfredo Bosco (Italy) and Marie Hald (Denmark).
Centred around the theme of New Chic, the works on show at Riga Photomonth this May “are united by quests in the language of photography,” says curator Alnis Stakle. Raising questions about the materiality of photography, he continues, these projects also examine “individual and collective meanings and identities and the rituals of looking and showing off". Inka and Niclas Lindergård are showing a series titled The Belt of Venus and the Shadow of the Earth, for example, which addresses the materiality of the photograph and photography’s role in the stylisation of the landscape. Through manipulation and the use of colour flashlights “their works become an open portal to the hyperrealistic synthesis of beauty, kitsch and visual desire in the language of photography,” says Stakle, who is director of Multimedia Communication and Photography at Riga Stradins University, and a celebrated photographer in his own right (bjp-online featured his series Theory of R in March 2017).
Born in 1876 in the German mining town of Herdorf, August Sander discovered photography while working at a local slagheap. Serendipitously meeting a landscape photographer working there for a mining company, he went on to assist the image-maker, and by 1909 had opened his own studio in Cologne. Around this time he also started taking portraits of his fellow-Germans, deliberately eschewing the then-prevalent pictorialist approach in favour of recording as much detail as possible. "Nothing seemed to me more appropriate than to project an image of our time with absolute fidelity to nature by means of photography," he stated. "Let me speak the truth in all honesty about our age and the people of our age."