The overall winner of the Fujifilm Professional Distinctions Awards 2007 was Afshin Dehkordi, who collects a cash prize of £1,000. Lou Bradbury was runner-up and picks up £500, while Indre Serpytyte was given third place and £250.
Over 3,000 images were submitted electronically, via www.fujifilmdistinctions.co.uk and from these initial entries the judges chose 35 Merit Awards and each Merit winner was asked to submit a print for final judging.
Afshin’s winning image was taken on 4×5″ Fujicolor Pro 160S. Afshin combines his career as a photographer with multimedia work and lecturing. He also established a photography project for disadvantaged teenagers in south Tehran and has just returned from Istanbul where he was teaching photojournalism to international journalists for the BBC World Service Trust.
The winning shot was taken at ‘Darya-che Namak’ which literally translates as Salt Lake, a two hour drive south of Tehran.
Afshin explains how the shot happened: “I had heard about the lake from various people and wanted to shoot there at dusk, so I called a cab and off we went. But we misjudged the distance, arriving much earlier than expected. We pulled off the highway onto a dirt track and headed into the scrubland. As we approached the lake we saw the dry brown earth transitioning into white salt beds, this is where they mine for salt.”
He continued: “There wasn’t much there, just the odd hut, some labourers and a few mangy guard dogs, keeping watch over the mining equipment. If you arrive during the heat of afternoon, as we did, the dogs and their owners are all sleeping under the relative cool of the shade. We drove to the edge of the mine – beyond that my cab driver wouldn’t go, having heard stories of day trippers driving out into the lake bed and never being seen again. The drivers is actually in the photo, he’s asleep at the wheel, the doors left open to keep cool.”
One of the judges, Jon Levy, had this to say about the winning entry: “Afshin’s image has an ambiguous quality which, combined with the colour transforms what could be an ordinary scene into something quite mysterious. The simplicity and openness makes this photograph into an iconic image.”
This is the second year Distinctions has been a ‘film-only’ award and 30% more entries were received this year, compared to 2006. Since its initial launch in September 2002 over 25,000 images have been submitted, making it one of the most prestigious professional photographic awards in the UK. Entry to Distinctions is free and is open to all UK based professional photographers.
The judging panel was made up of Jon Levy from Foto 8 Magazine (www.foto8.com), Michael Olu Odukoya from Kilimanjaro Magazine (www.kilimag.com) and Jerry Deeney from Fujifilm Professional.
The following photographers were given Merit Awards: Ahmet Unver (3), Andy Martin, Andy Stewart, Ben Pipe, Craig Gun-Munro, Dafna Talmor, Frederic Aranda, Frederique Cifuentes, Gigi Cifali(2), Graham Barratt, James Abbott & Rosie Clarke, Jason Larkin, Jill Smith, John Pridmore, Jonathan Ford, Kate Potter (2), Kelly Hill, Lambie Brothers, Lydia Polzer, Mark Taylor (2), Moira Blackwell, Nick Rochowski, Pascal Ancel, Paul Schatzberger, Robin Hayes, Steve Atkins and Will Woods.
Entries to the 2008 Distinctions Awards can be submitted from 1 April 2008.
The winning image, together with all the Merit winners, can be viewed at www.fujifilmdistinctions.co.uk