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Portrait of Humanity photo awards capture hope and courage in a year of struggle


This past year has been a time of reflection for many — and some photographs from around the world have attempted to capture the diversity and nuance of the human experience.

In the aftermath of a year characterized by adversity, 1854 Media and the British Journal of Photography have announced the winners of their annual Portrait of Humanity awards, sharing an array of images exploring the complexities of what it means to be human.

Selected by a panel of judges, more than 30 single portraits explore a variety of themes and identities, with photographers capturing portraits that depict trans identities and jaunty carnival performers, Goan fishermen and lovers embracing through face masks.

As well as individual portraits, judges also selected winning series by photographers Alexa Vachon, Edgar Martins and Hyoyeon Kim.

While Martins​ explores the concept of incarceration in his series, “What Photography and Incarceration Have in Common With an Empty Vase,”​ Kim traced and photographed generations descended from atomic bomb survivors to examine their shared experiences in “Abnormal Senses​.”

Meanwhile, Vachon​’s images, ​”Grounded​,” explore the lives and experiences of amateur female soccer players from around the world, all of whom fight social stigma simply to be able to “play a game.”

“The first time I met women players was during a football conference in Berlin in 2014,” Vachon said in a statement. “While from various religious, economic and cultural backgrounds, I came to see the common thread through all of their stories: the fight for the right for women and girls to play soccer and to be recognized as equals in their communities.”

The awards were created to show “there is more that unites us than sets us apart,” the organizers say.

“From Paolo Barretta’s poignant portrait of masked lovers to Chiara Fabbro’s delicate celebration of trans identity, the curation presents a vast and moving exploration of what it means to be human at a momentous time in our history,” they said in a press release.

Some 30 winning single images and three bodies of work will be exhibited worldwide as part of the Portrait of Humanity Global Tour 2021, while 200 shortlisted images will be featured in the book “Portrait of Humanity Vol. 3.”

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