Istanbul Photo Awards jury hails diversity of pictures

‘We chose the photo that other people haven’t seen,’ says 2019 jury head

A jury of international experts has completed the selection process for the winners of the Istanbul Photo Awards 2019, the fifth edition of Anadolu Agency’s global news photo contest.

The jury members spent two days in Istanbul, Turkey’s art and culture capital, to select the top three images in four categories each as part of the contest. The winners will be announced on Thursday.

The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Turkish Airlines co-sponsored the international news photo contest.

This year, Deborah Copaken, an American photojournalist and author, has joined the jury for the first time as the event chairwoman.

“It’s been a really incredible experience,” Copaken told Anadolu Agency. “The jury is amazing.”

Calling the jury deliberations “eye-opening,” she said: “It’s been really interesting seeing the entries. It’s been really fascinating hearing everybody’s opinions about which photos are good and which aren’t.”

Members of the jury included Marion Mertens from France, the digital editor-in-chief of Paris Match news magazine, Yuri Kozyrev from Russia, a photojournalist from Dutch-based NOOR Agency, Georges De Keerle, a photojournalist and visual media consultant from Belgium, Michel Scotto, the AFP director of photo business development in France, Ahmet Sel, visual news editor-in-chief for Anadolu Agency, and Firat Yurdakul, photo editor for Anadolu Agency.

Awards feature ‘pictures not usually seen’

“The contest this year is very rich with lots of different photos and lots of different stories,” Mertens said.

Stressing the significance of the contest, she added: “I think what makes the competition different from others is that you have pictures from countries that are not usually seen. I think there is a great diversity of origins of pictures and photographers.”

According to De Keerle, “amazing content” from across the world was entered into the contest. “There are so many good ones,” he said.

“I think one thing that makes it different is the fact that it takes part in a city sitting across two continents,” De Keerle commented. “You can see entries from western Europe, from Asia, Central Asia, and Iran.”

Mainly focusing on news and sports photos, the contest has four categories: Single News, Story News, Single Sports, and Story Sports.

“The single image we chose was not a little girl in a pink shirt looking out as her mother gets arrested. We’ve all seen that photo. We chose the photo that other people haven’t seen,” Copaken said.

Mertens called the photos sent to the contest “important” because they “covered everything that happened last year.”

“From one year to the other, you can see lots of different news topics not only news coming back, like immigration in all different continents and social unrest, but also amazingly moving human stories,” she said.

“We had some high-quality photojournalism. We’re happy about it," she added.

‘Istanbul where world passes through’

The Istanbul Photo Awards rewards technically excellent photos about the most important events of the year.

De Keerle said Turkey has long had “a great tradition of photography.”

“There are a lot of very good Turkish photographers that I know and worked alongside and learned from.

“When I was a young photographer, the first person who gave me a chance to work as a photojournalist was a Turkish guy. He had an agency called SIPA Press. His name was Goksin Sipahioglu,” he said.

“Turkey has always been close to my heart,” he added.

De Keerle called Istanbul an “amazing city.”

The photojournalist, who has been to Istanbul more than five times, said: “I’m in love with this city. I love its diversity. I love the fact that it sits across two continents. I love the Bosphorus. I love the history that you can feel.”

Also impressed by the Turkish metropolis, Copaken described Istanbul as “a place where the world passes through.”

“This city is international in ways that many other European cities may not be,” she said. “You don’t just have Turkish people here, you have people from everywhere.”

Mertens, for her part, called Istanbul “always a great place to come back to.”

“I’m coming back [here] for the third year. I feel like part of the family.”

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