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.”
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.”
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.”
Single Image winners
Nicole Benewaah Gehle
Yuet Yee Wong
View the full list of winning images Female in Focus 2020 here.