Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pictures of the Year at the Annenberg

The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles and the prestigious Pictures of the Year International (POYi) annual photojournalism competition recently teamed up to present "The Year," an amazing collection of the best documentary photographs of 2009. Their shared goal of "informing, inspiring, and connecting the public to the human experience through powerful imagery and stories" allowed them to display a truly powerful collection of photographs.

The gallery displays 80 photographs from the competition and also plays a "Behind the Lens" video showcasing some of the winning photojournalists and their commentary. Winning images were selected from over 45,000 entries submitted by photographers from various countries across the globe. (Here is the complete Winners List as well as the Winners Gallery).

Many of the photographs are categorized under four main themes: The U.S.: War and the Economy, Reflecting the Human Experience, Ecologies and Economics, and The Globe. Among those themes there are several incredibly striking images that make one seriously think about the situations in which the subjects are living.

A number of the photographers document through photojournalism issues relevant to women all around the world. For example, there is a series of images by Stephanie Sinclair, a photojournalist for National Geographic, called "Polygamy in America." She documents the lives of the members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint (FLDS), a Mormon sect notorious for its practice of polygamy. There is also an image by photographer Preston Gannaway for the Virginian-Pilot of a newly sober pregnant woman talking with her also-pregnant 17-year old daughter, explaining what to expect with her pregnancy. Other pictures include a group of homeless teens gathering for an annual festival, children soldiers, and a powerful Feature Story - Multimedia entry about a student who finally faced her struggle with gender dysphoria and changed from a male to a female.

It's also very inspiring to see how many of the winning photojournalists are women, who bring their skills and distinct perspective and sensitivity to the subjects they document. One photojournalist for the Los Angeles Times, Barbara Davidson, speaks in the "Behind the Lens" video about her experiences and her approach to taking powerful pictures in challenging situations. Davidson has worked for numerous newspapers and, along with seven staffworkers, she also won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography after shooting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. She uses her compassion to talk to the subjects of her photography and explains how it's necessary for her to shoot their situations in order to bring awareness and inform the public on issues similar to their own.

If you get a chance you should really check out this exhibit before it closes on October 10! The photos are amazing and extremely representative of the chaos and hardships that faced the world in 2009.

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