Winner of 2020 Shah Marai Photography Award announced
Photographer Naim Nadir has been announced as the winner of the second edition of the Shah Marai Award, named after the Chief Photographer of Agence France-Presse’s Kabul bureau who was killed in a suicide attack in April 2018.
Based in Kabul, Nadir won first place for his series The Afghan Spirit, which features black and white portraits of men in a way that is intended to portray the spirit of the Afghan people.
As part of the My Afghanistan award, Afghan photographers were invited to illustrate the reality their people face away from the images of violence that are often shown in the media.
Speaking on his series of close-up portraits, Nadir explained, “I tried to isolate the subject’s eyes, letting their look and expression tell their story.” Across the series, the expressions and stories appear markedly different and yet there is a sense of unity and connection between all eleven men featured in the body of work.
Nadir has said that he wanted his series to represent national unity by depicting all the main ethnic groups that reside in Afghanistan as their homeland. Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and some other smaller ethnic groups comprise the Afghan people who face similar struggles and hopes and share the same spirit and resilience.
Second prize in this year’s competition has been awarded to Mohammad Ismail for his series depicting the bird market in Kabul. At this market, Ismail explains that locals find a small pocket of comfort and distraction from the weight of “decades of war and struggle.”
Third prize has gone to stringer Mohammad Aref Karmi for his dynamic and colourful series that portrays mainly women and children. He has explained that his images are intended to convey that “hope for a good life and finding moments of joy between war and life never left the Afghan people.”
The three prize recipients were selected from a pool of 39 entrants by a six person judging panel. The winners will be presented with the awards at a ceremony in Paris at a future date.