Wonderland.

LEICA: THE 42ND LOBA AWARDS

The 42nd year of the Leica Oscar Barnak Awards champions marginalised voices, and shines a light on up-and-coming talent.

Goppel Valentine Between The Years
Goppel Valentine Between The Years

There’s something undeniably enchanting about visiting a place that’s home to a major invention. New York: home to the ATM and the hot dog. London: home to the tube and the telly, and Wetzler, the proud birthplace of Leica. You don’t have to be a stalwart in all things shutter speed and aperture to recognise the hallmark name. An enamoured manufacturer of cameras, optical lenses, binoculars and the like, the German company is respected across the globe for its textured imagions and high-contrast shots. Think of it like the haute couture of all things cameras, so if you spot the infamous red dot logo and you’re being snapped, rest assured it’s going to be a God tier shot.

But Leica isn’t so much a superlative camera to get your hands on, it’s a community celebrating its users and supporting those behind the lens. Which is why, once a year, Leica plays host to the Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA), now in its 42nd year. Regarded as one of the most prestigious awards in photography, a shortlist of 12 photographers took to the HQ, examined by renowned industry pioneers. Pictorial ensembles that elicit raw emotion and sentimental reportage saw the competition crown two winners. The first, the winner for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in the Newcomer category, German photographer Valentin Goppel, with his “Between the Years” series.

12 Goppel Valentin
8 Goppel Valentin
12 Goppel Valentin
8 Goppel Valentin

His work was submitted by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover, revealing an intimate depiction following the lives of young people throughout the pandemic. From small gatherings to musings over breakfast, the series offers a nuanced perspective on the forlorn mood of the catastrophic year, while allowing the photography to come to times with memories of his past through the images. “It’s something that comes afterwards in my work, finding myself in the images. I don’t always know it at the moment, but sometimes when I work, I work very consciously and try to illustrate a memory.”

The cathartic relationship between subject and object is echoed with the LOBA 2022 winner, Kiana Hayeri, who offers an arresting portrayal into the realities of life in Afghanistan. The Iranian-Canadian photographer presents a sequence that spotlights Afghan women situated in the strife of their environment, from the Taliban’s instilling of fear to the drastically waning freedom for women. “There are days when I’m paralysed with fear, but it’s important to be afraid,” shares Hayeri, who takes her camera to the frontline of daily tragedies in Afghanistan, covering the aftermath of bombings over 6 years of work. Titled “Promises Written On The Ice, Left In The Sun,” the poignant series might on the surface appear a deeply moving insight into the decades of conflict, but at its best, it is a narrative conveying the resilience, strength and dignity of women.

The two winning series and the finalists’ photographic projects will be on display at the Ernst Leitz Museum in Leitz-Park Wetzlar, Germany, until January 2023.

Head below to take a look at some of the finalists’ breath-taking photos…

11 Kiana Hayeri
16 Kiana Hayeri
10 Kiana Hayeri
11 Kiana Hayeri
16 Kiana Hayeri
10 Kiana Hayeri
LEICA: THE 42ND LOBA AWARDS

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