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    At the exhibition of Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest finalists' works at the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in Moscow

    Stenin Photo Contest Winners Say Late Photojournalist's Courage Inspires Their Work

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest, which was launched in memory of the Russian photojournalist killed while covering the conflict in the east of Ukraine, motivates and inspires photographers across the globe, the winners of the contest said.

    The international photo contest was first organized in December 2014 to commemorate Stenin who was killed while on assignment in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on August 6, 2014, after his car was shot at and burned on a highway.

    During the five years of the contest, many photojournalists received the prestigious award in various categories, including "top news", "sports", "my planet", portrait" and others.

    Shiva Khademi who won the Stenin contest in 2018 in the category "photo series" for her work named "Gemini" admitted that she hoped that the competition would continue to exist.

    "A unique feature of the photo contest is that it is held in honor of the photographer who sacrificed his life for the sake of his profession. It is very important for me that people devote themselves to photography, and thanks to such contests their memory remains immortal," the Iranian-based photojournalist said.

    Khademi hopes that such contests will remind the public about the person in whose name the very competition has been established.

    Taysir Mahdi, one of the winners of the 2018 Stenin contest, believes that the competition motivates all photographers across the globe.

    An exhibition by the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest opened at the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society’s Gallery in New Delhi on Friday.
    © Sputnik / Abysher Kumar
    An exhibition by the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest opened at the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society’s Gallery in New Delhi on Friday.

    The photo for which Mahdi received his award is called "Wish to live" and shows a young football player with an amputated leg captured on camera in the moment of an attack.

    "My win inspired me to continue photojournalism, I felt even more responsible for my work. Therefore, I am now telling photographers all over the world: ‘if you strive for excellence, if you want to get an additional motive for your work, then participate in the Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest’," he said.

    Importance of Commemorating

    Currently, hundreds of photojournalists work across the globe and the public does not always know them personally, but people know their works, Sebnem Coskun, one of the laureates of the 2018 Stenin Contest for her "History on the Road. Breakfast" photo told Sputnik.

    She added that, unfortunately, there are tragic losses among her colleagues and the loss of Andrei Stenin was one of them.

    "It is the story of Stenin that attaches so much importance to this competition. I think it is very important to have a reward in the memory of our colleague, it can’t be compared with anything. This is a relay race, a marathon that has no end," she said.

    She insisted that everything might change through the course of history but the value of the photographs taken by Stenin would never change.

    "The work we do is merely evidence of history. This will go on forever," she said.

    Risk Becomes Integral Part of Photojournalist's Profession

    Corentin Fohlen from France, who got the 2015 Stenin award for "A Life of Refugees from CAR [Central African Republic]", told Sputnik that he was proud to take part in such completion.

    "Participation in the contest in memory of a photojournalist killed at the scene [of his work], does not make us forget about the dangers that await our colleagues, and allows us to immortalize the memory of reporters killed in the course of their work," he said.

    Fohlen admitted that "risk was an integral part" of a profession of a photojournalist.

    "It is a fact. But it is equally important to do everything in order to avoid this [risk]. It’s not normal that people in our profession are becoming targets of the military, rebels and demonstrators," he said.

    Exhibition of works of winners and prize-winners of a competition of Andrey Stenin in Shanghai
    © Sputnik /
    Exhibition of works of winners and prize-winners of a competition of Andrey Stenin in Shanghai

    Information now plays an important role in forming opinions across the world, German photographer Jonas Wresch who won the Stenin award for his "The Terrible Night — Indigenous Resistance in Colombia" series of pictures in 2015, said when sharing his thoughts with Sputnik.

    "And we, photojournalists or journalists, are the ones who provide this information, and because of this, we are much more targeted. In any case, the work is becoming more difficult for both international and local journalists," he said.

    Andrei Stenin was exactly the journalist who dared to go to a dangerous territory to get information, Wresh noted.

    "[He is] a journalist who died while performing his professional activities. This is one of those truly tragic stories of people who gave their lives for information," Wresh admitted.

    Inspiration

    Debarchan Chatterjee, a photojournalist from India’s city of Kolkata who covered conflict situations numerous times, admitted that he was surprised to learn that he was among the winners of 2019 contest. His award-winning photo is called "In Protest" and shows tensions at one of the recent rallies in India staged by labor unions.

    "I truly feel honored as Stenin has always inspired us for the exemplary courage that he showed while covering tension in Ukraine. For many in our profession especially those who cover conflicts, his story serves as an inspiration as he gave away his life on the line of duty," he said.

    Chatterjee also admits that he does not think about his own security when he goes out to click his pictures.

    "I feel as a photojournalist, it is my duty and responsibility to cover all situations that I am assigned. I am sure Stenin must be having the same outlook as me when he went to cover that conflict in Ukraine," he said.

    Another Kolkata-based photojournalist, Santanu Dey who also won one of the nominations in the 2019 contest for his "Nostalgia on the verge of extinction" photo, hailed the contest.

    "It’s a great honor for me to have won in the Stenin International Press Photo Contest. Winning this international award holds a personal significance for me, not only because it is an international contest but also because I have great regard for Stenin - a photojournalist whose dedication for his work took away his life when he was just 33," he said.

    The tragic story of Andrei Stenin is an inspiration for all photojournalists, according to Ayanava Sil, one more photojournalist from Kolkata.

    "His grit and determination are examples of the great challenges faced in modern photojournalism. The unfortunate ending of this brilliant photojournalist has been a huge loss for us because we won't get to see any of his brilliant work anymore," he admitted.

    Sil's photo "Decisive Heading" which features a water polo match, was also among the winners of 2019 contest in the sports category.

    The winners of the 2019 contest will be announced at a special ceremony in Moscow in September. The same month, the photo exhibition will be opened together with the launch of the traditional world tour of the winning entries.

    Related:

    Internet Users Vote for Best Entries in Andrei Stenin Contest
    DPR Prosecution Identifies Presumable Suspects Behind Murder of Russian Journalist Stenin
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