Alvaro Deprit has won the series category prize in the 2012 edition of BJP's International Photography Award, with a sensitive story on young immigrants in Italy. Image © Alvaro Deprit/OnOff Picture.
The British Journal of Photography's International Photography Award has proved truly international this year, with a Spaniard based in Rome and Istanbul winning the series category, and a Russian based in London winning the single image prize.
Alvaro Deprit beat off competition from 168 other entries to win the series category, submitting a story called Suspension, which looks at unaccompanied minors who have fled war, poverty and political uncertainty for new lives in Italy. Judges Harry Hardie, founder and director of Here; Jess Crombie, head of film and photography at Save the Children; and Karen McQuaid, curator at The Photographers' Gallery, were impressed with the strength of the story Deprit had depicted, and the sensitivity he brought to it and his young subjects.
"It was a difficult decision between three to four entrants, but Alvaro told a new story to all of us, something that's very hard to do these days," commented Crombie. "He told it in a way that humanised his subjects, communicating the issues clearly but also in an engaging and intriguing way, and through all of this created something beautiful and poetic."
"For me, the work stands out because it works on so many levels," added Hardie. "It's a journalistic piece, as in it's about something tangible, but it also deals with something harder to articulate – adolescence and transition."
Deprit was born in Madrid but now divides his time between Rome and Istanbul; he is represented by OnOff Picture in Rome, and his clients and publications include Newsweek, Internazionale, Vanity Fair, Viva Magazine, El Periodico, Glamour, L’Espresso, Burn Magazine and D Repubblica. Earlier this year, he was selected for PHotoEspaña Descubrimientos, and won the PHotoEspaña OjodePez Human Values Award. Deprit stated he was "happy and excited" to have won the prize, adding: "It's an honour having won an award from such a quality and reputable magazine - one that's made history, and kept pace with the history of photography."
Meanwhile, Nikolai Ishchuk beat 720 other entries to the single image category with a mischievous take on snapshot portraiture. Taking a found image showing a couple kissing centre stage for the camera, he spilt them up and put them to the edges of the shot using Photoshop's 'offset' command, then put the original background back in. "Closeness is as much a display as it is an affect," Ishchuk explains. "For a married couple or family, to show closeness is to present a narrative of happiness to the world, to validate its own existence.
"The photo album is the ultimate record of this performance, which is also made legible to others – in certain contexts it is even required as proof that a relationship is not fake. We are told that these ‘central relationships' are the source and site of happiness, yet at the same time we know that closeness is not guaranteed. People stay together for all sorts of reasons, and there is always a possibility that the album is merely a cover-up for what is really managed distance and, at best, peripheral interaction."
Judges Francesca Sears, director of Panos Profile; Emma Bowkett, picture editor of the Financial Times Magazine; and Daniel Baer, creative director of Studio Baer, were impressed with the sheer verve of Nikolai's work, and its fresh take on photography. "For me, the winning single photograph had to be compelling and thought-provoking, a picture the viewer could return to time and time again," commented Sears. "I like how Ishchuk's image did just that, challenging both the form and purpose of the family snapshot whilst also remaining lighthearted and humorous."
The image is taken from a wider project called Offset, which was exhibited at Whitechapel Gallery in the London Open earlier this year. Born in Moscow in 1982, Ishchuk holds an M.Phil in Modern Society and Global Transformations from the University of Cambridge and a Graduate Certificate in Digital Lens Based Image Making from the London College of Communication, and recently started an MA in Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art and Design.
"I'm speechless!" he said on hearing the news. "I have been reading the magazine for over six years – since my very first foray into photography – so to get this award, and for my work to appear on its pages, means a great deal to me both professionally and personally. It's one of those moments when you know that all the effort has been worth it."
Deprit's series and Ishchuk's image will now be printed and framed by Spectrum Photographic, and will go on show at Foto8 Gallery from 14 - 24 November. The Private View will be on Thursday 15 November and all are welcome. Some of the photographs from Deprit's series and Ishchuk's image will also be published in the November edition of BJP, along with short interviews. BJP would like to thank all the photographers who supported the prize this year, the judges and our sponsors, Foto8 Gallery and Spectrum Photographic.
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