War, climate change and LGBTQ+ rights: the Eastern European photographers nominated for the 2021 World Press Photo Contest

War, climate change and LGBTQ+ rights: the Eastern European photographers nominated for the 2021 World Press Photo Contest
In Flight by Tatiana Nikitina

10 March 2021

Photographers from across Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus have been nominated for the 2021 World Press Photo Contest.

Chosen from a pool of more than 4,300 photographers in 130 countries, the shortlisted projects were announced on 10 March by an independent jury of experts. The prize, consisting of eight categories, celebrates the best visual journalism of 2020.

The Transition: Ignat, a shot by Russian photographer Oleg Ponomarev, was shortlisted for the World Press Photo of the Year, as well as in the Portraits category. Ponomarev’s project focuses on Ignat, a transgender man, who shows the discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in Russia. Another Russian photographer, Valery Melnikov, received a nomination for Leaving Home in Nagorno-Karabakh, which centres on a young family leaving their home in Lachin, the final district to be handed over to Azerbaijan by Armenia following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War.

The Transition: Ignat by Oleg Ponomarev

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also took centre stage across a number of other categories. Paradise Lost, Melnikov’s photos on the war between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces vying for control of the breakaway region, also scooped a nomination for the Photo Story of the Year category. In the Contemporary Issues category, Armenian photographer Vaghinak Ghazaryan’s Resting Soldier, a poignant photograph of a soldier sleeping in a trench, was shortlisted, alongside Alexey Vasilyev’s Sakhawood, a documentary project that previously took the top award at The Calvert Journal’s 2020 New East Photo Prize.

From Sakhawood by Alexey Vasilyev

Slovenian photographer Ciril Jazbec received a nomination for the Environment category of the contest with One Way to Fight Climate Change: Make Your Own Glaciers: a shot of an ice construction symbolising a Buddhist temple in northern India for National Geographic. Reborn, a photo stories about hyper-realistic artificial babies by Polish photographer Karolina Jonderko was shortlisted for the Long-Term Projects category, while two other Polish photographers, Natalia Kepesz and Tomasz Markowski, received nominations for the Portraits, Stories, and Sports categories respectively. Russian photographers, Alisa Martynova and Tatiana Nikitina, also were shortlisted for the Portraits, Stories and Portraits, Singles categories, with their photographs Nowhere Near and In Flight.

“In an unprecedented year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice protests around the globe, the nominees share a diversity of interpretations and perspectives to these and other urgent issues such as the climate crisis, transgender people’s rights, and territorial conflicts,” explained the jury. The winners of the contest will be revealed on 15 April.

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