Presented by the German company Leica since 1979, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award celebrated its 43rd edition this year. The award takes its name from engineer Oskar Barnack, inventor of the first small-format silver camera, adapting 35mm film from cinema to photography. The prize is also one of the best-endowed in the world of photography: the winner receives 40,000 euros and a Leica camera worth 10,000 euros; the winner of the Newcomer Award, a prize reserved for photographers under the age of 30, receives 10,000 euros and a Leica Q3.
Ismail Ferdous wins this 43rd edition with his “Sea Beach” series. This pastel-hued series invites us to question our childhood memories and what happens to places that may once have been familiar to us. Having lived in the USA for several years and returned to Cox’s Bazar, a seaside resort at the southern tip of Bangladesh, Ferdous shares a more personal and timeless aspect of this coast: “Cox’s Bazar beach represents a welcome escape into nature in an overcrowded country. It’s a place where everyone, regardless of social standing, can afford to take a vacation.” Immortalizing cotton candy vendors, newlywed couples, and children playing on the beach, he delves back into his memories of seaside vacations.
Chinese photographer Ziyi Le wins the Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer. Settled in Hangzhou in March 2020, it was routine that inspired him to create a series of portraits. His own routine and, more generally, that of an entire generation: “Throughout my childhood, I was taciturn and uncomfortable in my own skin, which gave me the impression that I hadn’t found my place. By instinct as a photographer, I decided to explore this feeling of emptiness in young people like me, in different cities, to see their faces and explore my deepest doubts.”
From October 12, the two winners will be exhibited at the Leitz Museum Gallery in Wetzlar, along with the other 10 finalists. The exhibition will travel to other Leica galleries and international festivals.