Istanbul Photo Awards announces jury for 2021 contest

Seasoned Reuters photojournalist Goran Tomasevic joins this year’s jury of contest involving prestigious names

The jury for the international photography contest Istanbul Photo Awards 2021, organized by Anadolu Agency for the seventh time this year, has been announced.

This year's jury includes NOOR Agency Photojournalist Yuri Kozyrev, Visual Storyteller Marion Mertens, AFP Former Director of Photo Business Development Michel Scotto, Author and Photojournalist Deborah Copaken, Getty Images Chief Sports Photojournalist Cameron Spencer, Photojournalist Ahmet Sel, Anadolu Agency Visual News Editor in Chief Hasan Oymez and Anadolu Agency Photo Editor Firat Yurdakul.

Goran Tomasevic, Reuters photojournalist who has covered the world's biggest stories for over 20 years, also joined the jury of the contest this year.

His photos, which have become some of the most enduring images of the conflicts fought in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, and photographic features from Africa bear witness to history and are published on international media.

Tomasevic's works have been recognized with many prestigious international awards such as the Pulitzer and World Press Photo. His works were exhibited at Czech Photo Gallery in 2012, Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents Club in 2014 and the annual Visapour l'Image festival in Perpignan multiple times.

The jury of the contest, which is participated by hundreds of professional photographers worldwide annually, will meet online on May 4 to 6.

The winners will be announced on May 11 after the selection process, followed on the platform specially prepared for the contest by the Anadolu Agency's dedicated tech team.

Information related to the jury members composed of a prestigious member of the world of photography can be accessed at

Deadline for participation is March 18

Applications are open for professional photographers until March 18, via

The participants can apply with photographs concerning the year 2020 in six different categories: Single News, Story News, Single Sports, Story Sports, Story Daily Life, and Story Portrait.

The winner of Photo of the Year, who is Single News category first prize winner, will be awarded $6,000.

The winners in other categories will be awarded $3,000 for first prize, $1,500 for second prize, and $1,000 for third. Only first place will be awarded in Story Daily Life and Story Portrait categories.

Istanbul Photo Awards great way to make name, says winner

Adam Pretty, winner of 2 prizes in story sports category, defines contest as 'really big contribution to photojournalism'

The winner of the first and second prizes in the story sports category of the Istanbul Photo Awards 2020 contest said the contest is a "really big contribution to photojournalism."

Adam Pretty, the 43-year-old Australian photojournalist at Getty Images, won first prize in the category with 10 pictures in which he presented the breathtaking rock climbing scenes of Amy Dunlop of Australia and Katariina Rahikainen of Finland.

Ten more pictures showing the Japanese Paralympic hopefuls Hitomi Onishi and Sayaka Murakami working with Japanese Prosthetist and Orthotist Fumio Usui and competing against each other for qualification brought Pretty the second prize in the same category.

Having practiced rock climbing himself around China, Australia and Japan for 10 years, Pretty wanted to take on his "unfinished business" and decided to shoot scenes of rock climbing training.

"The pictures were going to be based on the Olympics, which were, sadly, postponed. Rock climbing had just been included as an Olympic sport for the first time. That was the whole point of the story, trying to shoot the athletes training for the Olympics," he noted.

Pretty told Anadolu Agency that his background as a photojournalist dates back to his young ages.

"I was in high school when I first decided I wanted to be a photographer or photojournalist. I was really into art and illustration. And then I became interested in photography almost by accident," he said.

"Then I just fell in love with it; going into the darkroom, going out meeting people, talking to people, trying to tell a story with pictures [...] Instantly, I was attracted to it. I pretty much gave up doing any illustration after that, and then set up my own darkroom, at my home in my mom's laundry. And since then, I fell in love with photography. And that's pretty much all I've done since then," he added.

Pretty touched on the preparation period for the shooting of the pictures that brought him the first prize. "For the pictures I submitted last year, I had a lot of freedom with what I was able to do. And that's taken a while to get there; to build trust with the company, Getty Images, whom I work for, and then maybe the clients whom I'm working with as well."

As a rock climbing lover, both in terms of practicing and shooting, he said: "I remembered I had the opportunity; I had to shoot the climbing story, and I thought I'd love to go back to China."

Emphasizing the power of photographs, Pretty said: "To get a photograph, you need to be an eyewitness to what's happening. You can't find out or you can't ask a question after the incident or the story."

He pointed out the importance of photojournalism by saying: "I think photography is definitely the purist, unbiased form, of journalism, just because you need to be there; and if you’re not, there’s nothing you can do to make up for it or to tell that story accurately."

"It comes with great responsibility as well," he added. "If you're doing news for journalism, then you need to be really careful about trying to tell both sides of the story and being unbiased on the view, the situation you’re covering."

Pretty believes that to catch the best moments, a photographer must master technical skills. Without these skills, a photographer cannot be ready for off-script moments. He conveyed his ideas as follows:

"If you have your technical skills at a high level, if something happens quickly, and unexpectedly, you won't miss it. And I think that's important, too, that you are ready for when something does go off the script, and something really unexpected happens, and you do have the skills, and the positioning and the knowledge to make the most of the opportunity."

He shared the same ideas he has on photography on life, too. "And I think that's photography in general; it's kind of the story of my life, those small chances you get just trying to maximize them and make the most of them and realize how fortunate you are to be in that position."

Pretty said there is no simple formula for a striking photograph. He noted that content and technical features may not be enough to shoot an outstanding picture. “I think we need a number of different elements to make a good picture, or a memorable, striking picture."

Underlining that the first thing he pays attention to is finding the best background possible, he said that once he has the subject he is going to shoot, he works out the story he is trying to tell, then positions himself in the best spot and waits for the action. He said, on the other hand, while working on more personal stuff, he puts much thought into his work and tries to "build a picture with layers."

"Of course, equipment can help," Pretty added. "But I think the biggest thing comes down to is the photographer's division. There, whether it be their education, their experience, what they've seen, how they approach, a job or subject, it all adds up. So, it could be a combination of everything, I think," he noted.

He recommended photojournalists across the world participate in the Istanbul Photo Awards 2021 and said: "Having a competition based in Istanbul, it's going to be different from having a competition that's in Australia, or in America or wherever. So, you do have a different, I guess, not so much market, but area where you're showing that work and representing that work."

"It's a great way to try and make a bit of a name for yourself. So, I think it's pretty damn good at the moment," he continued.

Applications are open for the Istanbul Photo Awards until March 18. Professional photographers can submit their works in Single News, Story News, Single Sports, Story Sports, Story Portrait and Story Daily Life categories at

Pretty also suggested that photojournalists who want to improve themselves receive as many different opinions from others as possible and be open to criticism.

He said: "What I would recommend to photojournalists really is just get your work out in front of as many people as possible, get those opinions back in. I did so, too. And I want to hear that critique, I want to see what people think of my work. If it's harsh criticism, take it and say, ‘Okay, you know what, next year, I'll work harder.’ You know, I think it's really hard to be super self-critical."

"I think if you try and, or you think, you've got to a level where you're on top of things, then you're going awesome. It's downhill from there," he said. “Show it to as many people as possible. And listen, you don't have to do exactly what people say; you have your own opinion. But I think you'll learn a lot more and give other people an opportunity to do that,” Pretty noted.

On the increasing trend of photojournalism on social media, Pretty reminded how dangerous false or biased photography can be. "I think that can be a little bit dangerous," he said. "Because you can push out stories that might not be true or told from a certain side, if you've got an opinion, and you want to sort of push that out, you can without anyone double-checking it."

Still, he focuses on the bright side. He mentioned the positive outcomes that social media holds for photography and photojournalism.

"So of course, it's dangerous, but it has made photography much more accessible. And therefore, there's much more of an appetite for photography, in every form of media, not just looking at the phone, but everyone's using more and more photography, whereas people would say, oh, photography is dead," he remarked.

"But it's, as I said, it's just opened up more people to photography. As I said, it has made that hunger for visual stimulation and photography much bigger. So, I think it's sort of helpful, especially if you're trying to work and earn a living from photography," Pretty added.

"So, I think the future is looking good," he said.

Istanbul Photo Awards 2021 applications open

Anadolu Agency’s international news photography contest to be held for 7th time this year

Applications for Istanbul Photo Awards 2021, Anadolu Agency’s international news photography contest, are open.

In its seventh year, Istanbul Photo Awards aims to award and support photojournalists for their professional dedication. The contest is organized by Anadolu Agency, which has worked with a great number of photojournalists throughout its 100 years in journalism.

The contest receives applications from more than 100 countries every year. Along with many press institutions, a considerable number of freelance journalists also join to the contest.

Participants will be able to join the contest in six categories – Story, Single, Sports Story, Sports Single, Story Daily Life and Story Portrait.

Professional photographers can join the contest with photographs of the events that determined the world agenda in 2020. The jury, consisting of the most prestigious people in the world of photography.

Terms and conditions for the application can be viewed on the website of the contest, where the photographs will be evaluated based on multiple aspects such as technical sufficiency, perspective, composition, action, emotion.

The “Photo of the Year” award will be given to the photograph that is first in rank in the Single News category and the photographer will be awarded with $6,000. The winners of each category will be awarded with $3,000, the second-in-ranks with $1,500 and the third-in-ranks with $1,000. Only the first prize winners will be awarded in Story Daily Life and Story Portrait categories. 

Applications can be made on until March 18, 2021.

In the last six years, awarded photographs were exhibited in various places within Turkey and abroad, from Ankara to Izmir, from Vienna to Tokyo. The photo album with the winning photos has earned a considerable place in libraries in this field.

Award-winning photo series explores loneliness in Italian prisons

Winner of Istanbul Photo Award, photojournalist Valerio Bispuri spent 4 years in Italy's prisons spending time with inmates

The loneliness inside Italian prisons moved photojournalist Valerio Bispuri to create Prigionieri, the set of photos that earned him first place in the Story News category of this year’s prestigious Istanbul Photo Awards.

The contest was organized by Anadolu Agency with the sponsorship of Turkish Airlines, with the winners selected by a distinguished international jury.

In interview with Anadolu Agency, Bispuri said that he worked on the photo series after living in South America for more than a decade capturing the life in local jails.

“I visited 74 prisons in all the countries of South America,” including 10 years in Argentina, said the photographer.

“After this project of the prisons of South America, I went to Italy to present my book Encerrados [Locked Up] in the prisons of Italy,” he said, adding that while there he visited Piggioreale Prison in Naples, southern Italy.

“When the detainees looked at the images of the photos of the jails in South America, they said like, 'Why don't you come to visit the condition in which we live, what we do?'” he added.

Hard prison life

He did not think life in his country’s jails would be so hard, he recalled.

“I thought it was worth it, if this prison was so hard, so difficult, to see other prisons in Italy and I asked for permission to enter four large prisons in Italy,” he said.

Over the span of four years, he visited Ucciardone prison in Palermo, Sicily, Rome’s Regina Coeli prison, and San Vittore prison in Milan, northern Italy.

These visits then spurred him to take a longer tour, visiting small prisons, large prisons, women’s prisons, and new prisons, in order to explore what “a locked person thinks, what deprivation of liberty means, and what it means to be alone, without freedom.”

To get closer to the inmates, Bispuri used to eat with them, without taking any photos.

“I would put myself in the cell eating with them the same food that they ate, which was sometimes very ugly, but it did not matter,” he said, adding that these shared meals helped build trust.

“What came out of this work is how the prisoners are really lonely,” he explained.

“It’s very difficult because they are never alone because there are always people, but they are always alone, and these differences are what impacted me a lot and I started to take pictures of this.”

Finding the unknown

The longtime photographer stressed two important things in his work, starting with looking for a special depth in his photos.

“It is much more difficult to enter into a photographic depth that is not only aesthetics, which is not only light, not only form, but to tell something that is not known,” he said.

To get to this point, he said it is very important to enter intimately into people's emotions.

“All my work is like this, that’s why the work I do always lasts for years. Prigionieri lasted four years, it always lasts years because to go deep, to find the meaning of the images, it is very important to know, to enter, to know.”

The second important thing, he said, is to enter the space between emotion and reality and strike a balance between the two.

 ‘New type of language’

On his winning an Istanbul Photo Awards prize, Bispury said he was glad to help shine the spotlight on a little-known reality like life in prisons.

“I am very happy for this award that they gave me because in these moments, where photography is more attentive to aesthetics and is always looking for a new type of language, sometimes this type of language takes out strength to human depth,” he explained.

The Istanbul Photo Awards 2020 presented a dozen awards in four categories: Single News, Story News, Single Sports and Story Sports.

The winning works addressed major topics from 2019 such as global protests, conflicts, environmental disasters, sports activities, and human stories in various countries, from Palestine to Indonesia.

Details on applying for the 2021 contest will be announced soon.

Istanbul Photo Awards’ 2nd exhibition opens in Istanbul

Exhibition, organized by Anadolu Agency with the sponsorship of Turkish Airlines (THY), will run for a month

The second exhibition featuring a selection of the awarded photographs at the international news photography competition Istanbul Photo Awards 2020 opened in Istanbul.

The exhibition, organized by Anadolu Agency with the sponsorship of Turkish Airlines (THY) will run for a month at Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.

More than 10,000 photo applications were made from around 100 countries to the competition, where the photos that entered the top three were determined by evaluating singular and serial photos in news and sports.

Due to the novel coronavirus, the jury session evaluated the submitted works and determined the winning photos on the Anadolu Agency’s special online platform.

The photograph titled “Hong Kong Protests” taken for the New York Times by photojournalist Yik Fei Lam was deemed worthy of the Photo of the Year Award.

A total of 12 awards were given to works addressing protests, conflicts, environmental disasters, sports activities and human stories in countries ranging from Palestine to Indonesia.

Photo album with winning photos and stories can be reached at