People/Places/Things, an international photography competition, was a great way to celebrate En Foco’s 35th anniversary. Partnering with Canson Infinity, we aimed to identify and promote talented emerging and mid-career artists working today, and received over 200 submissions from across the globe.

The diversity of submitted work was amazing – the high visual and technical quality of the entries made the selection process enjoyable yet very challenging. All images were reviewed by En Foco staff and then vetted by a Committee comprised of photographers and curators, before being sent to the jurors.

The jurors worked very hard, plowing their way out through hundreds of wonderful images to proclaim a winner and four honorable mentions in each category. The winners and the honorable mentions have been announced, and here is a taste of their work. More of the winner’s work is also featured in Nueva Luz photographic journal (Volume 14#2, Spring 2010).

MUSTAFAH ABDULAZIZWinner, People Category:

© Mustafah Abdulaziz, Cowboy in Mountains, Patagonia Cowboy series

“I wish to document people and cultures whose lives may not contain the drama of spot news or the visceral power of war and conflict, but whose daily struggles and ways of life are changing as our world moves into this new century.”

STELLA KALAWWinner, Places Category:

© Stella Kalaw, Lola's kitchen, Cubao series 2008

“I saw my grandparents once since migrating to America years ago. My Lola died in 2002 and my Lolo passed away a week  before I took these photographs. My memories are few but visiting Cubao resurfaced many that I had forgotten.”

PATO HEBERTWinner, Things Category:

© Pato Hebert, untitled #2, Trying to Catch Your Breath Series

“Breathing is more of a process than a “thing”. But in cold air the breath is made visible. In this way the breath materializes and becomes a kind of thing, ephemeral yet palpable, unstable yet compelling. Like my breath, which floats off into the chilly darkness, these images float between figuration and abstraction.”

HIROYO KANEKOHonorable Mention, People Category:

© Hiroyo Kaneko, Sentimental Education #22 2007, Sentimental Education series

“Bathing in hot tubs is one of the most ordinary daily rituals in Japan. We bath with family, friends, strangers and sometimes with the opposite sex showing subtle impressions which waver between vulnerability and flexibility, openness and hesitancy, and intimacy and loneliness. I focus on these impressions as I believe that they represent a fundamental form of humanity.”

KELIY ANDERSON-STALEY Honorable Mention, People Category:

© Keliy Anderson-Staley, LaTasha, 2009. Americans: Contemporary Collodion Portraits series

“My interest lies in finding the unique visual markers of personality and in portraying faces that reflect the diversity of contemporary America.”

SAMAR JODHA Honorable Mention, People Category:

© Samar S. Jodha, Phaneng 1, 2008. Phaneng: A Journey into Personal Engagement series

“My proximity to the Tai Phake tribals, their trust in me, the years spent documenting various facets of their life, all this gradually led me towards this portraiture project. A people and a culture that may soon fade away from existence and only appear as a distant memory.”

SANJA KNEZEVICHonorable Mention, People Category:

© Sanja Knezevic, Roma series, 2009.

“My story is about life of Roma in Belgrade. Although the Roma are still living in poverty in poorly built cardboard homes, without water or bathrooms, working lowest paid jobs, collecting secondary materials for recycling, they keep their spirit and find happiness in everyday life.”

ALEJANDRO CARTAGENAHonorable Mention, Places Category:

© Alejandro Cartagena, Lost River No. 3, Cause and Effect of Mexican Suburbia series

“Relying less on irony and more on a quasi-romantic representation of decay, Lost Rivers is a social comment on contemporary unplanned urban development.”

DAVID ZIMMERMAN Honorable Mention, Places Category:

© David Zimmerman, untitled (rock), 2008 Salton Sea series

The Salton Sea’s demise began as its supplies of fresh water from the Colorado River were diverted to the booming & thirsty cities of southern California.  I believe public opinion can alter the spiraling fate of the Salton Sea.”

TERRI GARLANDHonorable Mention, Places Category:

© Terri Garland, Torching Cross near Tylers, MS, 2007. Southern Discomforts series

“My current work focuses on the Mississippi Delta, where I am interviewing and photographing both white supremacists and those families and individuals who have been direct recipients of hateful acts and ideologies. The dualities of life and death, desire and constraint, the secular and the sacred are but some of the ideas which draw me to the South.”

MARY ELLEN BARTLEY Honorable Mention, Things Category:

© Mary Ellen Bartley, Untitled 20, Paperbacks series, 2009.

“In the Paperbacks series, I was interested in creating a circumscribed project where simple objects are arranged, studied and photographed in a particular light, then slightly rearranged and restudied.”

WENDY PHILLIPS Honorable Mention, Things Category:

© Wendy Phillips, #39 The Ribbons, 2007. La Costa Chica series

“My conceptual work is informed and inspired by the ethnographic research project I have been doing with women of African and North American indigeneous descent in the communities of the coastal states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, Mexico.”

JUAN GIRALDO Honorable Mention, Things Category:

© Juan Giraldo, untitled, 2007. What Work Is series

“These works are part of a larger body of work, titled “What Work Is” after Philip Levine’s book of poetry of the same name. They are in essence, ennobling labor whether it be repairing shoes or tending to the field, building a house or fixing an automobile.”


En Foco would like to thank jurors Darren Ching from PDN and KlompChing Gallery, Hossein Farmani from Farmani Gallery, Danielle Jackson from Magnum Photos, Cat Jimenez from the Lucie Foundation, Debra Klomp Ching from KlompChing Gallery, Edwin Ramoran from Aljira: a Center for Contemporary Art, Mark Sealy from Autograph: ABP and Elizabeth Shank from Bruce Silverstein Gallery for their hard work and wonderful selection.

A very special thanks goes to the Competition Committee, without whom this project would not have been possible: Bonnie Portelance, Lola Flash, Terry Boddie, and Mark Brown.

People/Places/Things: an International Photo Competition Celebrating En Foco’s 35th Anniversary, was also made possible because of the generosity and support of our sponsors: Canson Infinity (providing winners with a $500 gift certificate and honorable mentions with $100 certificate), Olympus (providing winners with an E-510 Digital SLR), Xrite (providing winners with their ColorMunki calibration program), PDN’s (gifting winners with a one-year website membership), Blurb (providing $150 for winners and $75 gift certificate for honorable mentions) and Tamrac (providing winners with their Adventure Messenger 5 bag). Winning images were also displayed at Canson Infinity’s booth at PDN Photo Expo in NYC, and all 15 artists were displayed in a book at En Foco’s booth (October 23-25, 2009).

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