Jane Hahn wins the single image IPA prize

With clients such as the New York Times, Time, the International Herald Tribune and Washington Post Magazine, Jane Hahn knows what makes a good story, and what makes a striking single image. Her winning single image in the BJP’s 2014 International Photography Award shows her talent for both – depicting a woman returning home after bathing in the Badia East informal community, it’s taken from her on-going work in Lagos.

“This image is part of a personal long term project I began earlier this year, photographing those who have been affected by the forced evictions that have been taking place in Nigeria, especially in Lagos, all in preparation for its mega city status,” Hahn told BJP. “Unfortunately I don’t have more information on the woman as she was just passing by when I was speaking to those on the edges of the photo. She wasn’t willing to speak as she was in a hurry, so I took this shot as she was walking away.”[bjp_ad_slot]

Hahn took the shot in February, one year after Badia East’s residents woke to find construction equipment demolishing much of the area, on order from the Lagos State Government. The photograph beat off competition from nearly 1000 other entries to win the IPA’s single image prize, and was picked out by Sean O’Hagan, photography critic for The Guardian and The Observer; Bruno Bayley, editor of UK Vice; Alexia Singh, editor-in-charge of the Wider Image Desk, Reuters; Sarah Thomson, head of art production, Fallon London; and Hannah Watson, director of Trolley Books and TJ Boulting gallery.

“Jane Hahn’s image possesses a beautiful tension, between the surroundings and the subject,” commented O’Hagan. “The woman wrapped in the England towel seems to have arrived in the photograph from another world, her grace and poise as she walks though the shanty town at odds with the ramshackle buildings and debris around her. A great example of the old-fashioned decisive moment, I guess.”

“I have tried to remember exactly what I thought when I first saw this picture,” added Thomson. “I know that it seemed extraordinary, and that I still remembered it very clearly after looking at a great many other single images – some of them very good. And now I can rationalise why it stood out for me – the intent in the woman’s stride, her self-absorption, no-one noticing her, her not noticing anyone else and the surprising light on the back of her body in the darkness of the wrecked buildings – but I don’t truly know what particularly caught my attention. I think it was probably all these things – and the magical alchemy of a perfect shot.”

Hahn’s image will now be printed by Spectrum Photo, one of Europe’s leading photographic labs, and will go on show at TJ Boulting alongside the series category winner in February 2015. The BJP’s International Photography Award has been running since 2005, and previous winners include: Edmund Clark, a two-time nominee for the Deutsche Borse Photographic Prize; Chloe Dewe Mathews, winner of the 2014 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography at the Peabody Museum, Harvard; Peter di Campo, co-founder of the lauded Everyday Africa tumblr and Giulio di Sturco, a previous World Press Photo Award winner.

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Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is the editor of BJP, returning for a second stint on staff in 2023 - after 15 years on the team until 2019. As a freelancer, she has written for The Guardian, FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, Aperture, FOAM, Aesthetica and Apollo. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy