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Syrian conflict and child brides dominate French photojournalism awards

Sarita, 15, gets ready to go to her husband's place. Sarita and her sister Maya, were married the day before to two brothers.
Sarita, 15, gets ready to go to her husband's place. Sarita and her sister Maya, were married the day before to two brothers. © Stéphanie Sinclair/VII for National Geographic Magazine
Text by: Kalvin Ng
5 min

Photographs on the violence in Syria, child brides in South-East Asia and health issues in Russia have taken out prestigious awards at a major photojournalism festival in France. 


The photographers were honoured at the annual “Visa pour l’image” International Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, in the south of France.

The American photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair took out the Arthus-Bertrand Visa d’or for the year’s best news or feature report.

The 39-year old’s series of photos on child brides in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Nigeria captivated the jury, which included some of the best picture editors from around the world.

Sinclair is the only person to have won the award three times.

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Stephanie Sinclair / VII pour National Geographic Magazine

She took the honours in 2010 and 2004 with photographs on polygamy in America and auto-immolation of women in Afghanistan respectively.

For the past 12 years, the French Association of Female Journalists (AFJ) has presented the Female Photojournalist Award at the festival.

This year, French photojournalist Sarah Caron took the prize – an 8,000 euro grant – to help finance a report about the daily struggles of Pashtun women in Pakistan, which has seen a rise in religious extremism.

“There is nowhere else in the world where the gender imbalance is as marked as it is in Pashtun society today,” Caron says. “With the impending withdrawal of NATO troops and the return of the Taliban, Pashtuns are encouraged to maintain their extremist interpretation of religion, thereby victimizing their helpless mothers, sisters and wives.”

Another key feature at this year’s festival has been the continuing unrest in Syria.

A French photographer, Mani, won the International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (ICRC) Humanitarin Visa d’or for his work showing the extremely vulnerable state of emergency services in Homs.

Mani, who only goes by his first name to protect his identity, spent a month undercover in and around Homs, covering his face with a keffiyeh (headscarf) to avoid being photographed by the secret police.

Chilean photographer Tomas Munita won the New York Times the Visa d’or for daily press with a series of photos capturing the Syrian conflict.

The festival also paid homage to French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik, French journalist Gilles Jacquier and American war correspondent Mary Colvin, who were killed in January while covering the uprising in Homs.

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© Sebastian Liste/Getty images

The first “City of Perpignan Rémi Ochlik” prize for the best young photojournalist was awarded to 27-year old French photographer Sebestian Listé for "Urban Quilombo", a gritty look into the lives of dozens of families that occupy an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.

Listé is also one of four photographers awarded grants by the photo agency Getty Images to pursue photojournalism projects. The other winners were Bharat Choudhary, Kosuke Okahara and Paolo Marchetti.

Elsewhere at the festival, Misha Friedman, a former doctor for Médecins Sans Frontières, won a 5,000 euro prize from the French National Association of Iconographers (ANI) for a series of haunting black-and-white photographs on tuberculosis in Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Those photos will soon be displayed at the Galerie du Bar Floréal in Paris.

Earlier in the week, Jeanne Thibord, Sidonie Garnier and François Le Gall won the France 24-RFI web documentary award for an interactive work showcasing street art around the world.

The festival is in its 24th year and runs until 16 September.

Click to see the slideshow




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