Russian photographer Alyona Kochetkova ,30, was awarded Grand Prix winner of the Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest for her series “ How I fell ill”. Photo: Rossiya Segodnya

MOSCOW —  South African photographer Justin Sullivan was among those honoured in the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest. 

The competition is organised by Rossiya Segodnya under the aegis of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.

Sullivan and Spanish photographer Luis Tato were named the first-prize winners in Top News, Sullivan for his piece “Standoff” featuring a police officer pointing his gun at three poor men hiding under a table, and Tato for his series “Kenya’s post-election turmoil”.

Alyona Kochetkova, 30, was named the first prize winner in the Grand Prix category for her series of photographs “How I fell ill”, a documentary story about her dramatic fight against cancer.

Twenty-five young photographers from 14 countries competed for the Grand Prix, including Russia, Iraq, Iran, Italy, Spain, Belarus, Israel and South Africa.

Speaking of her win, the Kaluga native said, “For me it is a very difficult and very personal story which, despite everything, I would like to share with as many people as possible,” Alyona said. “Sympathy and compassion awaken our love for our family and friends, which is never enough. At the same time, it is a word of support to those who are sick and perhaps feel lonely because they have no opportunity to talk about their feelings. Working on this series was also a way for me to avoid having a breakdown and to accept this ordeal and live by doing what I love.”

“The Andrei Stenin Contest is one of the most relevant and significant photography competitions. I was interested to hear the evaluation of my work given by an international jury and to compete with the best young photographers from around the world. It is a chance to prove to myself that I can tell a story in such a way that others would appreciate,” the Grand Prix winner said about the victory.

In the My Planet, Single, the first prize was awarded to “Cranberry heart”, a drone photo of swamp berry harvesting by Sergei Gapon from Belarus. 

Photo: Rossiya Segodnya

The first prizes in Sports were awarded to Taisir Mahdi, from Iraq, for his photo “The desire for life” featuring a young amputee and a football forward, and Andrea Alai, from Italy, for his series “Ultras” about Albenga Calcio club’s “tifosi” from a Ligurian town.

Oded Wagenstein, of Israel, with his single photo of a young Nenets nomad “Rosebud” took first place in the Portrait. 

In A Hero of Our Time category, Shiva Khademi, of Iran, won with her series “Gemini”.

Omid Vahabzadeh received the prize for his single “Tehran attack” featuring a two-year-old boy being pulled into a parliament building window after a terrorist attack in Tehran in June 2017. 

Younes Khani Someeh Soflaei meanwhile, received the prize for his series “And life rises” about everyday life of the people hit by the 2017 earthquake in the Kermahshah Province, which killed almost 600 people and destroyed more than 30,000 houses.

Competition partners Shanghai United Media Group (SUMG) and Al Mayadeen TV honored Sports, Single winner Taisir Mahdi’s “The desire for life” with a special prize.

Other partners included the International Red Cross Committee (IRCC), which presented special prizes for humanitarian photography to two Iranian masters.

Rossiya Segodnya director general Dmitry Kiselev said this year's awards honoured its photojournalist Andrei Stenin, who was killed in the line of duty in southeastern Ukraine. 

Photo: Rossiya Segodnya

"We have established a contest for young photographers to commemorate him. Brought together by his name, young photographers from around the world share their concerns with us, using Stenin’s works as a gauge of truth. Each photograph submitted for the contest tells a story of a person, an individual or even a country," he said.

This was echoed by Director of the State Historical Museum Alexei Levykin, who said, “We are happy that the State Historical Museum is the first exhibition venue of the international tour of the winners of the Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest. It is very important that Rossiya Segodnya supports young photographers and, thanks to our cooperation, a great number of people can see these photographs".

The awards ceremony took place the State Historical Museum Exhibition Center and were followed by the opening of the exhibition of the winners’ photos, which will run from November 9 through November 30. 

The exhibition displays around 200 works by the best young photojournalists, which reflect the signature images of today’s reality, from the biblical beauty of white brick quarries in Upper Egypt to clip montages of post-election events in Kenya in the fall of 2017; from the Arctic culture of Nenets nomads to red-hot sports battles at the 2017 French Open.  

Admission is free.

A preview of the exhibition took place at the UN Headquarters in New York on November 2, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. 

The exhibition was attended by Alison Smale, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya and Rossiya Segodnya Deputy Editor-in-Chief Andrei Blagodyrenko. 

After Moscow, the exhibition will go on tour around Russia and abroad.