The IAFOR Documentary Photography Award is an international photography award which seeks to promote and assist in the professional development of emerging documentary photographers and photojournalists (restrictions apply).

The award is supported by The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) and builds off of the strength of the IAFOR Documentary Film Award, now in its fifth year. Documentary has a rich history of exposing truths, telling stories, raising awareness and creating discussion — all practices valued at IAFOR.

This year’s award was judged by a panel of leading professionals in the field of documentary photography and photojournalism, including our Founding Judge, Dr. Paul Lowe (Panos Pictures/University of the Arts London), Ed Kashi (VII Photo Agency/TALKING EYES MEDIA) and Simon Roberts.

Winners were announced at The European Conference on Media, Communication and Film (July 11 – July 14, 2016) in Brighton, England. The award follows the theme of the conference, with 2016’s theme being “Justice”.

In supporting up-and-coming talent, the IAFOR Documentary Photography Award is free to enter.

The 2016 Award Theme – “Justice”

By seeking to reveal the world’s injustices, the photographer acts as a powerful agent of change. When the photographer bears witness to social problems, human rights abuses, suffering, conflict, poverty, and to those struggling on the margins of society, some justice is done to the subject in that they are noticed and given hope of a voice. The photograph becomes a record and a piece of evidence, communicated effectively to the world regardless of language or culture. Whether from within or outside a suffering community, the photographer is an activist, putting themselves at the service of the promotion of human rights, peace-building and social change.

When the truth, as the photographer sees it, is exposed and disseminated, justice, to a level, is served through the raising of awareness. But the seeming reality of a photograph and its human aspect mean that it is relatable and emotionally powerful in a way that, unlike facts and figures, can inspire more than just stagnant sympathy. The story that a photograph tells has the power to form and change opinion, and in turn inspire action. These actions can create real, tangible justice for the cause that the photograph represents, the impact and importance of which is real and measurable.