MTI/MTVA photojournalist Zoltán Balogh won the MÚOSZ (National Association of Hungarian Journalists) Grand Prize at the 39th Hungarian Press Photo Contest for his work entitled The Covid-19 Year in Hungary, while the André Kertész Grand Prize was awarded to Bea Kovács for her series Butterfly Girl.
The two Grand Prize winners were announced at the opening ceremony of the 39th Hungarian Press Photo Exhibition on Thursday.
Zoltán Balogh's MÚOSZ Grand Prize-winning series, which has already won the first prize in the Photo Report category, gives a glimpse into the changed life during the coronavirus epidemic in nine photos. Freelance photographer Bea Kovács's Butterfly Girl series, which won the André Kertész Grand Prize for Best Human-Centered Documentary, follows the daily life of Miranda, a 12-year-old girl born with the rare genetic disease 'epidermolysis bullosa', and her family. The series also won second prize in the Everyday Life (Series) category.
The best works from this year's competition, including the two grand prize-winning series, is on display in an unconventional outdoor exhibition. The exhibition, organized by the National Association of Hungarian Journalists and the Capa Center, will be on display until August 15 next to the Műcsarnok (Art Hall), and will then be shown in Debrecen, Gödöllő and Békéscsaba.
At the opening of the exhibition, Anna Erdei, immunologist and Deputy Secretary General of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), stressed that although the exhibited pictures are usually about events we all have experienced or know, they are still very different from the way most of us see them. "We have all experienced the confinement, often hopelessness, and unfortunately many of us have also experienced the pain of illness, hospitalization, the proximity of death and for many the loss of loved ones. But only those with a special sense of the subject can see it as poignantly beautiful as it is in this photograph," she added.
Anna Erdei pointed out that the photos of the quarantine period often reveal miserable human backgrounds, and although one would like to 'forget' this, one cannot, because these images do not allow one to do so. "We are stuck in front of the picture, we look at the details for a long time," she said. "If we were to make a map of the current photography exhibitions on the planet and see a graphic image of where the world capital of photography is, and we could rank it, Budapest would be that prestigious place," György Szegő, Artistic Director of the Art Hall, said in his welcome speech.
At the ceremony, Imre Benkő received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Photojournalism, established by the Capa Center in partnership with the Photojournalists' Section of the MÚOSZ. The award was presented by Orsolya Kőrösi, Director of the Capa Center, who emphasized that the Board of Trustees considers Imre Benkő's life's work to be one of the most important documentary works of contemporary Hungarian photography, and that his photographs are at the top of the Hungarian photographic art.
András Bánkuti, President of the MÚOSZ Photojournalists' Section, thanked his colleagues for producing so much good material after such a difficult year. He added that some of these pictures will surely end up in the history books. He also said that they are already preparing for the 40th Hungarian Press Photo Exhibition, and that they plan to present the best photos of 39 years in a special exhibition in addition to the traditional one, and they also want to make all the photographs available online. He said that, in keeping with tradition, this year's album, Photographs of the Year, would be published, containing a selection of the winning images and a large selection of the entries to the competition.
According to the organizers, 296 photographers entered the 39th Hungarian Press Photo Contest with 2,515 entries, totaling 7,237 images.
The international jury was composed of Tamás Szlukovényi, curator of the Toronto/London-based Archive of Modern Conflict, former editor-in-chief of Reuters Global Photo (President); Heidi Levine, American freelance photojournalist based in Israel and staff photographer at the French photo agency Sipa Press; Stephane Arnaud, editor-in-chief of AFP Photo; Hannah Hess, director of content development at the EPA; and Tamás Szigeti, photojournalist, editor and curator of the Hungarian Press Photo Exhibition since 2015.
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