Competition is like a ‘rendezvous’ that photojournalists were all waiting for, says prize winner
The Istanbul Photo Awards is an important contest for photojournalists and something the community waits for eagerly, said photojournalist Alain Schroeder, first prize winner in the awards’ 2021 Story Sports category.
Amid the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the whole world was filled with concerns and trying to hold onto everyday life, Anadolu Agency’s Istanbul Photo Awards still managed to reflect unforgettable events with the undeniable power of photos.
Schroeder is among a group of photojournalists who spent nearly three months in lockdown in an apartment in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur Sultan after he arrived to take photos of the traditional Kok Boru horse games in March 2020.
Since measures taken by the Kazakh government meant he could not shoot the games as he had to stay indoors, he said that he came back to the capital that November for another chance to cover the competition.
“I practiced finding different angles and situations that show emotion, tested contraptions with my camera,” he told Anadolu Agency, Turkiye’s premier news source.
“I spent several weeks traveling throughout the country to find playfields in exceptional places, in front of a mountain or near water.”
“Last year I won third prize in the News Category in the contest,” he added.
Mentioning how many people told him that thanks to his photos they learned about the plight of orangutans and the habitat destruction due to “illegal logging, mining and palm oil exploitation,” he underlined the power of good pictures, saying: “Photography can absolutely have an impact and make a difference.”
“The Istanbul Photo Awards is now an important contest for a photojournalist and a rendezvous we were all waiting for,” he said.
Joy of succeeding in ‘prestigious competition’
Roman Vondrous, a photojournalist at the Czech News Agency, won first prize in the Single Sports category for his work in the capital Prague.
He took photos of the football players of the Bohemians 1905 Prague thanking their fans after a match against FK Pribram on Dec. 15, 2020 at Dolicek Stadium.
Despite the ban on fans attending the match due to COVID-19 restrictions, several fans managed to watch the whole game by standing on ladders or stepladders to peer into the stadium.
“It’s not an easy thing to pay attention to the whole match while balancing on a ladder,” Vondrous told Anadolu Agency.
“It was also interesting that a lot of the fans didn’t hesitate to travel with their ladders across the whole city by public transport or by car,” he added.
“We, with my colleague, picked out one of the buildings opposite the stadium and asked the owner if we could take some pictures from it,” he said.
“We were lucky that the home team won and the players walked up to the fans to say thank you after the match. That was the exact shot we were waiting for.”
Despite the technological advances that help photojournalists take good photos in most situations, Vondrous explained: “To get an exceptional shoot you still must be in the right spot at the right time; that hasn’t changed at all.”
“Even in this complicated time we are experiencing, I am convinced that photos still have the power to display our era in an extraordinary way,” he underlined.
Mentioning that after the announcement of the Istanbul Photo Awards winners, he got lots of emails and messages of congratulations, he said: “I was really happy I managed to succeed in such a prestigious competition where the photos are judged by a reputable jury.”
He once again submitted some of his photos for the next round of the contest, and would be “really grateful for any recognition,” he added.
Vondrous also won Second Prize in the Single Sports category in 2015.
For more information on the distinguished photos honored by the Istanbul Photo Awards, visit istanbulphotoawards.com.
On the website, professional photographers can also submit entries to the 2022 contest through Feb. 15.
Winners get cash prizes, and the photos are recognized in the awards photobook and international exhibits.
The 2022 contest is supported by Canon, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), and Turkish Airlines, the nation’s flag carrier.