Istanbul Photo Awards exhibition opens in Ankara

Exhibition, organized by Anadolu Agency, will run until Nov. 22

The first exhibition featuring a selection of the awarded photographs at the international news photography competition Istanbul Photo Awards 2020 opened in Turkey’s capital. 

The exhibition, organized by Anadolu Agency with the sponsorship of Turkish Airlines (THY), will run until Nov. 22 at the Ankara High-Speed Train Station ATG Mall, Turkey’s first transportation base.

The photograph titled “Hong Kong Protests” taken for the New York Times by photojournalist Yik Fei Lam won the Photo of the Year Award in the Single News category.

More than 10,000 photographs were sent in from nearly 100 countries for the contest. An international jury convened in June to decide the first three winners in four categories: Single News, Story News, Single Sports and Story Sports.

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

Every year, well-known professional photographers from around the world apply for the competition.

Istanbul Photo Awards unites world’s photojournalists

Esteemed jury members Marion Mertens, Yuri Kozyrev share their experiences in selection process

The Istanbul Photo Awards brings together photojournalists from all over the world, and that is what makes it unique, say jury members.

The winners of Istanbul Photo Awards 2020 were announced last week.

The contest, organized by Turkey's top news source Anadolu Agency, is sponsored by Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines.

The winners of the contest presented a summary of events worldwide in 2019, from Gaza to Hong Kong to Italy.

An international jury convened on June 24-25 to decide the first three winners in four categories: single news, story news, single sports, and story sports.

Esteemed jury members Marion Mertens, a senior digital editor at Paris Match in France, and Yuri Kozyrev, a veteran photojournalist with Netherlands-based NOOR Agency, evaluated the winning photographs and their contribution to Anadolu Agency’s visual news.

2019 from Hong Kong to Palestine through Photo Awards

For Mertens, the "Hong Kong story is very important, and it is still in the news. Lighting in the winner photo is beautiful, and this photo could be from anywhere in the world where the demonstrations are going on. For that reason, it is very elaborate and covers a greater story than just Hong Kong." 

"We had a lot of pictures from Hong Kong. It is one of the main events of the year. It was not easy to decide. It was an emotional process. It shows the whole story, a very powerful composition. It's a classic moment, and the photographer got it," said Kozyrev about the winning photo of the year. 

Mahmoud el Hams' photo titled “Funeral in Gaza” and Ibraheem Abu Mustafa's photo of people breaking their fast at a long table near demolished buildings titled “Palestinian Iftar amongst Rubble” finished in second and third place in the single news category.

"As a woman, the image of these young Palestinian girls and their suffering were specifically important to me. Also, it is notable that the only person looking up at the camera amongst the rubble is a young kid, which shows that you still have life going on in this war-torn country," Mertens said.

Having covered war zones for many years, Kozyrev said: "In Palestine, the conflict is never over. Every year, we see pictures of challenge from there. The second photo is completely about that emotion and the captured moment.” 

"The third photo, on the other hand, shows the reality of the country. Life is still going on with everything that happened there. People still get together, get married, fall in love, and eat," he added.

Photographing crisis, disaster areas

For Mertens, the ability to portray emotions is what makes a photojournalist talented. Capturing a good photograph means understanding what people go through. It is not only a cold statement of what is happening in the world.

For a striking news photograph, the action should be visible, but portraying emotions and composition also play very significant roles, she added.

"For the last 20 years, there is no break to conflict. From my experience, lots of crises happen around the world. People get used to this and stop paying attention. The challenge for any photojournalist is to demonstrate that the conflict still exists and that we need to respond to it," Kozyrev said.

Having a real impact in the world through photography is a complicated issue, according to Kozyrev.

"Today it is different from previous generations, who for instance covered the Vietnam war. There was more responsibility and more respect. There are many people who call themselves photographers, but this contest tells a lot about this issue: if a photographer does the job right, follows the ethics, feels the responsibility of what they're doing, then yes, photojournalists can have an impact in the world," he said.

"Today, photojournalists should also be more domestic. It is very important to have an understanding about the locality, culture, and language of where you are coming from. If you're from Gaza, Iraq, it is difficult to understand other worlds.

“Visual language is very strong and can tell more than a thousand words. The young generation tends to see more than they read, so that's what matters," he added.

Story photos, single photos

For Mertens, one really should tell a story in a story photo.

Valerio Bispuri's photo series titled “Prisoner", depicting an Italian prison, won the first prize.

"For instance, in this story, every single picture tells a story in itself as well, in addition to the totality. Every single picture is strong, and you really get inside the prison and see what people are going through. Prisons are difficult to access in real life, so it is very important [that they are brought in front of us]. You can see the loneliness of the inmates in there," she said.

A good story is a story where every single picture will give you an understanding of the environments in which the photo was taken, she added.

For Kozyrev, there is a huge difference between stories and single photos.

"A whole story can be told in one picture. I am also a storyteller, and I look at the photos from that perspective. I follow the stories till the end. Photographers working for news agencies have that kind of skill," he said.

“In Bispuri's ‘Prisoner’, the photographer captured a whole story in every single photo, but in the overall story as well. This is what matters," he added.

Contribution of Istanbul Photo Awards to global news

"We received pictures from countries that you don't usually see contributions from. It is also great to have an international jury, and great to have an award based in Istanbul. Both our jury and the photographs sent are from all over the world, which is what makes the Istanbul Photo Awards special," said Mertens.

For Kozyrev, each photo award looks for something different.

"The Istanbul Photo Awards have followed a certain tradition for six years. I like to be a part of this. It also helps photographers to improve themselves. The photo chosen as the best can sometimes confuse the photographers, could even be frustrating. But when they understand the tradition, it makes sense," he said.

Sports photos

“In all three winners of single sports [category], we had everything we need: storytelling, action, and artistic features,” said Mertens.

On the other hand, second place in story sports, “Sport Climbing’s Olympic Debut" by Getty photojournalist Adam Pretty shows handicapped sportspeople.

"It was a good mix of news and photography features. In this story, you can see the connection between characters. It could also be seen as a news story. The evolution of this man who helps gymnasts can be seen here," commented Mertens.

Being a conflict photographer, Kozyrev has a slightly different approach on sports.

"Personally, I am a conflict photographer, as we said while launching the NOOR Agency. For me, sports is something I can admire, and sports photographers should be judged mainly by sports photographers. I always look for something different when I judge sports photography. It's all about the moment, and it is very difficult to get it," he added.

Anadolu Agency's online selection platform 'big help'

The jury agreed that the online selection platform developed by Anadolu Agency has been a big help in realizing the Photo Awards during the pandemic.

"The selection platform was very easy to use and [it's] great. We made our selections before we met online with the jury. We could choose photos, go back from there, and do all kinds of changes. Congratulations to Anadolu Agency, and it's a pleasure working with them," said Mertens.

Kozyrev thought it was challenging to be apart from his colleagues while evaluating the photos.

"I felt a little bit isolated. Of course, we had to do it due to the pandemic, but we still made it, thanks to the selection platform, which is incredible. It was really well done, but I wish I had friends around while evaluating the photos," he said.

Istanbul Photo Awards makes valuable contribution: Jury

Jury members Deborah Copaken and Cameron Spencer share experiences of selecting winning photos


Istanbul Photo Awards 2020, organized by Turkey's premier news source Anadolu Agency, has made a global impact, jury members said.

The winners for the annual event were announced last week.

Sponsored by Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines, the winners captured a melange of events worldwide in 2019 from protests in Hong Kong to demonstrations in Gaza.

The international jury convened on June 24-25 to decide on the first three winners in four categories: single news, story news, single sports and story sports.

Getty Images sports chief photographer Cameron Spencer and Deborah Copaken, photojournalist and author, evaluated the winning photographs and their contribution to visual news for Anadolu Agency.

Photo of the Year

Spencer thinks the winning photo, Hong Kong Protests by Yik Fei Lam, is very powerful and captures the essence of the unrest in the city state.

"Unrest in Hong Kong has been going on for so long, and this photo tells the story of the confrontation and excessive force used by the police. The protester is unarmed, but the focus of the picture is the gun pointed at him, rather than himself," he said.

The world would not have realized how big events in Hong Kong became if it was not for photojournalists capturing images, he added.

"The Photo of the Year reminded me of some of the best photography in Vietnam. The guy who's targeted looks blurry, but it is an intense moment. The elements of the image do not matter one by one, but the photographer captured a moment that is era-defining. It could be considered as era-defining for the US as well, with Black Lives Matter protests," according to Copaken.

Experience, composition key in photojournalism

While choosing the winners, the jury agreed that they wanted to see not only major stories in the world, but also the talent of the photographer.

"What differentiates the average person with a camera from a photojournalist is photojournalists see and compose things differently, and use light knowingly. In addition, nothing beats experience," said Spencer.

The job of a modern day photojournalist is to be the voice of the people and to document the truth with compassion, he added.

The second and third spot in single news went to photojournalists from Palestine.

"What makes them interesting is, they could be from any conflict zone in the world. So they are telling a bigger story than what they narrate," Copaken said.

She also discussed how the jury reached a decision.

"All of the jury came from different backgrounds, so we all had our biases. We pitch in our choices, but in democratic decision making, other factors come into play as well," Copaken commented.

One does not have to be a photojournalist to capture amazing moments, but of course technology enhanced photojournalism in general, she added.

"The best news images should have a beautiful composition, and capture a moment full of emotions. You need to balance out the composition and intensity of the emotion captured," she said.


In the Sports category, a good photograph either should be a great action shot that captures the defining moment or it should be a creative image that has some kind of artistic merit, according to Spencer.

In this year's single sports, Jakub Porzycki, bagged the first place with his entry, Gymnastics. The creativity and composition made this photo stand out, Spencer added.

The runner-up is a boxing match shot by Getty's Richard Heathcote.

"The impact of the punch is very hard to capture, and it is very tricky. There's luck involved, but also the skill of the photographer," he added.

Communication amongst the jury members is key while evaluating categories that are not your expertise. While looking at a sports photo, there might be some details that are not obvious to a war photographer, and that is where we received help from the experts and decided on the winners, Copaken, head of the jury, said.

Photographing a humanitarian crisis 

Most of these photojournalists live in the areas they cover, so what they do is very personal for them. But for some others, it is different. A lot of photojournalists on the other hand, just go to the areas parachuting, and then go back to their ordinary lives. This creates a dissonance between the work and the photojournalist, according to Copaken.

"Without images, we wouldn't know what's going on in the world. In Vietnam war, without the photo of the young naked girl covered in napalm, we wouldn't have seen the reality, seriousness of it. Photographers' job is to show evil in the world in a way," she said.

Copaken covered the Soviet exit from Afghanistan. "I would go to the mountains, get sick, get a shrapnel wound and so on. It would take me months to get my film out and send it to agencies. I'd go to the airport, convince a passenger to take it with them - this is before 9/11.

"The agency people would take it from the airport, take it on their motorcycle, and get to agency. They edit, make copies, and send them to magazines. But now, two clicks are enough. This is good for the world, but bad for photojournalism. To earn a living, to follow photojournalism as a career will become harder," she said.

Contribution to global news 

"Any time there's an award, and when they get publicity, people stop to look at images. This is a chance for people globally to say 'wow' looking at these images. For that reason, contests like these are important," said Copaken.

She said it is always difficult to decide upon a winner.

"For instance, the second place in story news, Yik Fei Lam’s Hong Kong protest photos, the photographer got in there and produced the work from beginning to the end. That was what the jury looked for specifically in story photos," she said.

"Istanbul Photo Awards is an important photographic contribution, you see photographers that are well-established and got great reputation. It is a testament to value that photographers place on this competition. There are works [in Istanbul Photo Awards] that are not necessarily represented in other competitions or on mainstream media, which I think is a great way in showcasing them," Spencer said.

Anadolu Agency software 'big help' 

Performing the jury duty from home due to the pandemic was a challenge, but thanks to Anadolu Agency's specifically designed online selection platform, their job became so much easier, the jury said.

"The platform was seamless and quite amazing. Even when we meet in Istanbul next year hopefully, we can use the platform for choosing the images. The tech team worked really fast, they got it up and running in few weeks," said Copaken.

"Anadolu Agency's specifically designed software for the awards this year did a great job, the platform was very easy to scroll through, we could also zoom in on pictures and compare them with one another," Spencer said.

Istanbul Photo Awards 2020 winners announced

Yik Fei Lam, photojournalist based in Hong Kong, wins Photo of the Year Award

The jury of the Istanbul Photo Awards 2020, organized by Anadolu Agency, have announced the winners.

Anadolu Agency organized the annual contest for the 6th time. This year, the selection was made using a specifically designed online platform developed by Anadolu Agency’s tech team.

The international jury convened on June 24-25 to decide the first three winners in four categories: single news, story news, single sports and story sports.

Sponsored by Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines, the winners of the contest presents a summary of the events worldwide in 2019, from Hong Kong to Gaza.

News category

In the Single News category, Yik Fei Lam’s photograph, titled “Hong Kong Protests,” won Photo of the Year Award. The photo shows a policeman pointing handgun at a protester.

Mahmoud el Hams came in second with his photo, titled “Funeral in Gaza,” which he shot for AFP. The photo shows distressed Palestinian children crying side by side.

Reuters photojournalist Ibraheem Abu Mustafa was awarded third with his photo of people breaking fast in a long table near the demolished buildings, titled “Palestinian Iftar amongst Rubble”.

In Story News, Valerio Bispuri won the first prize with his photo series titled “Prisoner.” Photos taken at Italian jails show daily life of prisoners.

Yik Fei Lam’s Hong Kong protest photos were awarded the second prize. The protests in Hong Kong are shown in a series of photos, from protesters to policemen and burning streets.

Alain Schroeder’s photos showing efforts to save orangutans that are forced out of the rainforest, got the third prize in same category. The series is titled “Saving Orangutans”.

Sports category

Gazeta Wyborcza’s photojournalist Jakub Porzycki was awarded the first prize in Single Sports category for his photo titled “Gymnastics”.

The second award in this category was given to Getty Images photojournalist Richard Heathcote for his photo, titled “Boom-Two Time Champion.” The photo captures the drama of a high-stakes boxing rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia, 2019.

Insidefoto photojournalist Andrea Staccioli won the third place in the Single Sports category, with photo titled “Diver”.

Getty Images photojournalist Adam Pretty won the first prize in Story Sports with a series of photos, titled “Sport Climbing’s Olympic Debut.” He also won the second award with “The Road to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics”.

AFP photojournalist Franck Fife won the third award in Story Sports with photo titled “Titan Bike Race”.

Details of the winner photographs can be found at ""

Winner of the Photo of the Year won the prize of $8,000. First places in other categories are awarded $5,000, second places $3,000, and third places $500.

Jury decides Istanbul Photo Awards winners

Winners of Istanbul Photo Awards, organized by Anadolu Agency this year for 6th time, set to be announced next Tuesday

After meeting online this week to judge the entries, the jury of the Istanbul Photo Awards 2020, organized by Anadolu Agency, Turkey's top news source, has chosen the winners.

Next Tuesday, June 30, will see the announcement of the choice photos honored by the awards, organized this year by Anadolu Agency for the sixth time.

The selection process took place using an online platform using state-of-art software developed by Anadolu Agency's dedicated tech team.

The winning photos were selected from more than 10,000 entries sent by professional photographers in over 100 countries. Starting June 30, the winners will be viewable at

Jury members include Yuri Kozyrev, a veteran photojournalist with Dutch-based NOOR Agency; Marion Mertens, a senior digital editor at Paris Match in France; Michel Scotto, AFP's head of photo business development in France; Deborah Copaken, an American photojournalist and author; Georges De Keerle, a photojournalist and visual media consultant; Cameron Spencer, Getty Images sports chief photographer; Ahmet Sel, a senior photojournalist; Hasan Oymez, the editor-in-chief of Anadolu Agency's Visual News Department, and Firat Yurdakul, photography editor for Anadolu Agency.

An Anadolu Agency team organized the elimination process on an online platform specifically designed for the awards.

Jury members praised the continuation of the contest even amid the coronavirus outbreak, and shared their thoughts on the organization.

Scotto congratulated the organizers for maintaining a smooth process despite this year’s challenging circumstances due to the pandemic.

Spencer said the online elimination platform, including jurors from at least six countries, was handled very smoothly, and congratulated the team.

De Keerle said the technology used in the platform was quite advanced, while Mertens praised its ease of use.

Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s flag carrier airline, sponsors the contest.