In September 2017, after many years, I was happy to encounter Luís Vasconcelos, a familiar face from the earliest days of my photographic career in Portugal and Spain in the 1980s.
Over a coffee I was honored and flattered when he asked that I chair the 2018 Estação Imagem photo jury – a contest about which I had heard very favorable things from multiple friends over the years.
I was to be in the excellent company of fellow jurors Tanya Habjouqa, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz and Marco Longari – an accomplished, talented and discerning group of fellow professionals.
The beautiful location of Coimbra was the destination and our hosts took great care to introduce us to the city, with its magnificent history and culture.
In addition there were multiple well-curated photo exhibitions on public display throughout Coimbra, as well as workshops for new generations of Portuguese photographers – all part of the Estação Imagem photo festival, started in 2010.
Having chaired multiple photo juries over the years, I can say with confidence that the organization and display of the work to be judged was flawless. Our hosts’ excellent hospitality, sumptuous offerings of food and drink and beautiful venue made for a very pleasurable and meaningful experience.
Because the photographs were presented to the jury anonymously, it wasn’t until after our decision that we happily learned that the winner of the overall prize was a woman – Patrícia de Melo Moreira, for her powerful and gripping images of the deadly wildfires that engulfed central Portugal in 2017. With women grossly underrepresented in the field of photojournalism, this was particularly satisfying.
Gabriel Tizón’s Picture of the Year was so surprising that we requested the original file to be sure that our eyes were not deceiving us. They weren’t and we spent a long time commenting on the photograph’s originality and contemplative efficacy in highlighting the refugee crisis that has been a European reality for the last several years.
The other category and grant winners were all equally deserving and it is heartening to know that Portuguese (and Galician) photojournalism is alive and well, as evidenced by the high quality of the work we saw.
The three prongs of Estação Imagem – contest, exhibitions and workshops – are vital, serving to reward, expose and develop the wonderfully diverse field of photojournalism with its unique combination of creativity and journalism.
I hope the event continues to grow and thrive and I look forward to remaining connected to Luís and his fine team of professionals.
New York City