Female in Focus 2020: The winners

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Valentina Sinis, Ada Trillo and Carmen Daneshmandi are among the winners of Female in Focus 2020, an international award recognising women’s extraordinary contribution to contemporary photography

From 1854 Media and British Journal of Photography, the Female in Focus award was conceived in response to staggering gender imbalance in photography. An open call to female-identifying photographers around the world, it is an annual initiative to promote and reward women’s work in an industry that disproportionately favours men’s.

This year’s edition was judged by an international jury including Joanna Milter, Director of Photography for The New Yorker; Aldeide Delgado, Founder and Director of Women Photographers International Archive, Anahita Ghabaian-Etehadieh, Founder and Director of Silk Road Gallery and several other leading women in photography.

From a pool of thousands of entries, the panel has selected two outstanding bodies of work and 20 single images exhibited at El Barrio’s Artspace, New York, between 2-21 November 2020. Collectively, the curation examines gender, race, sexuality and beyond, weaving delicate stories of beauty and pain; joy and injustice; resilience and reflection.

“The effects of photography on society are more far-reaching than ever before. Gender inequality in the industry is just the start of a good conversation about who gets to tell stories — and how.”

Kate Bubacz, Photo Director at BuzzFeed News and Female in Focus 2020 judge

Valentina Sinis’s Broken Princess, one of two winning series, tells the devastating story of women in Iraqi Kurdistan who try to escape — and protest — domestic violence by setting themselves on fire. “Our ability to manage pain is limited,” Sinis tells British Journal of Photography. “It is impossible for anyone to handle more than a certain amount of pain. These women have overcome, almost angelically, that border of possible pain. Winning Female in Focus can give them hope, confidence and energy, for they are finally seeing their story told.”

Broken Princess © Valentina Sinis
Tear Gassed © Ada Trillo.

Ada Trillo’s La Caravana Del Diablo, named this year’s second series winner, maps the calamitous human cost of President Donald Trump’s political agenda in Central America. “Trump has effectively barred asylum seekers from entering the US by threatening to impose tariffs and cut foreign aid to Central American countries,” Trillo explains. “With the series, I want people to recognize that elected officials’ decisions affect people outside of their nation. Hopefully, winning Female in Focus will expand my audience to more people who can advocate for Central American asylum seekers.”

Image © Noelle Mason

In the Single Image category, Sara Lorusso’s delicate portrait of couple Gioele and Beatrice captures a quiet moment of young, queer love in Italy. “From an early age, we are suffocated by innumerable opinions about love,” says Lorusso. “What it is, where to find it, who is authorized to celebrate it, when it is or isn’t appropriate. When this happens with a person of your own sex, absolutely nothing changes — but not everyone seems to have understood this yet. Winning Female in Focus is a great incentive to keep telling these stories.”

© Beth Knight.
© Sara Lorusso.
Image © Nicole Benewaah Gehle
Image © Carmen Daneshmandi

Series winners

Ada Trillo

Valentina Sinis

Single Image winners

Ana Nance

Andrea Torrei

Beth Knight

Camilla Broadbent

Carmen Daneshmandi

Dimpy Bhalotia

Eman Ali

Eva  Watkins

Gisele Duprez

Jaimy Gail

Jennifer Garza-Cuen

Kasia Trojak

Michelle Watt

Natalia Poniatowska

Nicole Benewaah Gehle

Noelle Mason

Rita Leistner

Sara Lorusso

Yuet Yee Wong

Image © Jaimy Gail

View the full list of winning images Female in Focus 2020 here.

Enter Female in Focus 2021 now