Solms, Germany (June 15, 2011) – First prize in this year’s highly prestigious photographic competition, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2011, goes to the Danish photographer Jan Grarup. For his award-winning portfolio, entitled ‘Haiti Aftermath’, the winner will be presented with a Leica M9 camera and lenses worth around €9,500 (approximately U.S. $13,760), as well as a cash prize of €5,000 (approximately U.S. $7,240). The second winner in this year’s competition is Jing Huang from China. His portfolio, ‘Pure of Sight’, wins the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2011 and a Leica M9 with lenses. The prizes will be presented on July 5, 2011 as part of the photographic festival in Arles.
The central theme of his project, ‘Haiti Aftermath’, focuses on the massive earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010 and its consequences. Jan Grarup’s portfolio shows the extent of the catastrophe and the fate of the survivors in pictures of enormous intensity. The destruction is appalling. A precise count and identification of the victims is difficult due to the enormous devastation. Even today the number of victims can only be estimated, and the government assumes a death toll of around 300,000 people, with more than three million affected by the quake. The earthquake is therefore considered to be the most severe quake in the history of North and South America. Jan Grarup travelled to Haiti on an assignment for various magazines to document the catastrophic consequences of the natural disaster. He sees his mission as a photographer as much more than the simple depiction of the current situation. The aim of his black-and-white shots is to generate emotion. The earthquake took everything the Haitians had: their belongings, the roof over their heads, their friends and relatives. Their lives lie in ruins. Fear and despair is written on their faces. They have lost all they ever owned and often even risk the only thing left to them in the search for food and water: their lives. The police and private security forces attempt to protect the remaining stocks of provisions and do not hesitate to defend them with weapons, as Jan Grarup’s pictures show.
Jan Grarup, born in 1968, has travelled to almost all corners of the world over the last 20 years, capturing numerous historic moments and, amongst these, irrefutable proof of human brutality. During the development of his projects, he often works hand in hand with aid organizations like Médecins Sans Frontières and UNICEF. He has already won numerous prestigious awards from the photographic industry and human rights organizations, such as World Press Photo or UNICEF. His work is regularly published in prominent newspapers and magazines around the world, for example The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine, Stern, Geo and Paris Match.
‘Pure of Sight’, the portfolio entered by Chinese photographer Jing Huang, is not dedicated to any subject in particular. Each of his twelve black-and-white images has its own unique story to tell. In his portfolio, the photographer appears to have selected a series of images entirely at random. They show landscapes, wildlife and detailed close-up images. Nevertheless, each photo has a charisma of its own. Everyday scenes and objects are suffused with a magic that captures the viewer’s soul. The young photographer has discovered a way to lend enormous depth to familiar and seemingly trivial things. Jing Huang explains that he could never be a good writer because he finds it difficult to find the right words. And that is why the camera is his eye, and photography is the medium to express his innermost thoughts. His images communicate what he has to say without the need for words. Viewers see the world as it is seen through the eyes of the photographer.
Jing Huang, born in 1987, is a real newcomer. His passion for photography evolved from a wish to tell stories through pictures. To accomplish this, he enrolled at the Arts Academy of Guangzhou in southern China in 2003 to study photography and digital art. He is a passionate Leica photographer and the owner of a Leica M4-P that he still uses for his work today.
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award was held for the 32nd time this year and recorded a record participation of over 2,000 entries (last year, 1,700 photographers took part). Professional photographers from over 89 countries took part in the competition. The majority of this year’s submissions came from Germany, the USA, China, France and Russia. This year, the jury members included Leica photographer Stanley Greene; Mark Rykoff, picture editor at TIME.com; Anna Gripp, editor-in-chief at Photonews; Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, creative director of the Leica Gallery in Salzburg; and Dr Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the Supervisory Board at Leica Camera AG.