Contest includes many jury members with lots of experience in field of photojournalism, says prize winner
The Istanbul Photo Awards is one of the most important and prestigious contests in recent years mainly because it includes many jury members who have significant experience in the field of photojournalism, said Greek photojournalist Konstantinos Tsakalidis, this year’s Photo of the Year winner.
While the world was facing deadly viruses, climate crises, wars, conflicts and disasters, photojournalists continued to take their responsibilities seriously to reflect the real world with incredible photos.
Even though this period has been a tough one, Anadolu Agency’s Istanbul Photo Awards contest has proven the power of photos when trying to understand what the real world is all about.
As the winners were announced in all categories, Tsakalidis, who also works for Bloomberg, shared the story behind his award-winning photo “Woman from Evia” and expressed how he felt after being deemed worthy of the award.
Noting that the photo was taken in the village of Gouves on Greece’s Evia Island on Aug. 8, 2021, Tsakalidis said he left the observation point where he could view a wildfire with other colleagues and approached the village despite the growing fires in the area.
“I thought that if the fire had really approached the houses, these would be the images that would most vividly describe the disaster and the consequences of the climate crisis we’ve lived with in recent years,” he said.
There, he came across the woman in the picture shouting towards her house as her husband was still in the backyard, telling him about “all the hard work they had put into their home” and “the lack of government intervention to put out the fire.”
“As she was telling me this, the flames swallowed up the pine forest behind the house. That's the moment I took the picture,” he said, describing the moment as “very intense and moving.”
He recounted the difficulties he had during that time, noting: “This was the first time I covered, as a photojournalist, a fire with such a scale, and I can say that I was a little bit afraid of showing this situation.”
Emphasizing that he and his colleagues’ safety was one of his priorities back then to be able to go to the area every day to take more pictures, Tsakalidis also spoke about the techniques he used, where he tried to have the same colors both in his photo and the environment as “it was a strange situation.”
“In this story of Evia, I just followed my instincts,” he said, adding “I think that you need courage and a strong character to follow the stories.”
About what “Woman from Evia” meant for him, Tsakalidis noted: “I think that this image describes in the best way the despair and sadness of the local people of Evia Island about the destruction of the natural environment as well as the negligence of the state in extinguishing the fire in its beginning.”
Meanwhile, he touched on the responsibilities of photojournalists and the power of their work, asserting that he doesn’t believe that only one photo could change the whole world.
“Maybe we can make the world and how politicians behave towards the people in a fairer way,” he said.
Mentioning that photojournalists have “the greatest responsibility” when demonstrating the reality to people, he said: “We have to be very confident and aware of the information we transmit both so the events and our text follow the picture.”
“I think the most important thing is that we have to help eradicate misinformation now more than ever,” he said, referring to how technological developments have affected today’s world.
However, he also pointed out some positive details about the developments in photojournalism.
“Technological developments in photographic equipment have had a very positive effect on reportage by improving the image quality, flexibility in file transmission and reducing the size and weight of the equipment.”
“It is easier and healthier for a human body to carry all the stuff,” he added.
Recounting about how he first heard that he was granted the Photo of the Year award in the contest, he said: “It’s a great honor for me that my photo has been recognized.”
“The Istanbul Photo Awards is one of the most important and prestigious contests in recent years in the photography industry mainly because of the jury members and not only prizes,” he said.
“In this contest, we have a lot of members in the jury who have experience in the field of photojournalism as photographers and editors.”
Tsakalidis also made some important recommendations for new photojournalists and those who want to become a photojournalist.
“My only suggestion for them is to go outside and follow the news, because if you are not present in front of a huge event, you can’t take anything. Try it more and more every day and follow your instinct.
“To shoot strong images, you have to be there during the incident. Maybe then you can shoot something important. You never know,” he added.
About the difference between being a freelancer and working full-time for a corporation, he stressed that it has not always been easy for him while freelancing, as he didn’t have “a constant salary every month.”
Also, freelancers have to “follow every news event to create something every day,” he said, adding it is not “so bad” because then “you can decide what you can cover outside about the news or which story you want to follow. You don’t have a boss over your shoulder.”
However, he also underscored the need for a well-known corporation to work with in situations like the Russian war on Ukraine, saying “it’s very difficult to follow this story as a freelancer. You need very big support both for your safety and for managing the budget.”
Information related to the 2022 jury and award-winning photographs can be accessed via the website www.istanbulphotoawards.com.