“For me, my people are everything. My language, my people are always with me. ”
For Takie Dela, Mary Gelman photographed the story of seamstress Elena Ader who works to save the Nenet culture from disappearing. Elena Ader has sewn traditional Nenets clothing all her life, and several years ago she began to combine national elements with modern fashion trends.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien’s project “Born Free – Mandela’s Generation of Hope” was named a finalist in the 2020 LensCulture Exposure Awards.
Twenty-five years ago, South Africa held its first inclusive elections. These brought an end to decades of white minority rule. A new constitution gave all South Africans equal rights. As the first black president, Nelson Mandela focused on reconciliation and hope for the future. It would be up to the young generation to make his dream of a rainbow nation come true.
During her work in South Africa, photojournalist Ilvy Njiokiktjien became intrigued by these born-frees, born after the end of apartheid. She portrays them in her own, personal and sometimes intimate style. There is equality on paper now, but many still experience the consequences of apartheid.
Mary Gelman has won first place in the 77th annual Pictures of the Year competition’s portrait category for her photo of couple Alyona and Sasha.
“Pig, sow, cow, oink-oink – I heard more often than my name. All the people in kindergarten and school insisted that I quit dancing, a fat girl in dancing sounds like a scandal! Once at school, we rehearsed a dance, and while I was dancing, about ten boys from the class surrounded me. They were grunting and laughing at me. I always loved to dance, but I left this as each time I tried I was kicked and bullied.
It was a lot harder at home. My mother was ashamed of me, my father beat me. He always thought I ate too much and controlled me. He dumped a plate with food on my head or smashed it against the wall. I was afraid to eat and could starve for weeks. My mother hid food from me or cooked something I didn’t like on purpose. Sometimes I ate leftovers from the kindergarten that she picked for our dog. My father did not care for this food, so I could reach it. When my mother was in the hospital, my brother and I stayed with my father. He locked me in a room for about five days and did not give me anything but water. Everyone was obsessed with my weight.
Probably most of my life I thought about death. It’s hard to live when you are not respected and bullied only because of your weight. A couple of times I tried to drown myself, but my mother pulled me out. A few years ago, I found a love, learned about other overweight people on Instagram, started to read about body positive and feminism. If not for that, I would not be here right now.”
The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has awarded its highest honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, to Karen Mullarkey and VII’s Maggie Steber for their commitment to the craft of visual journalism and to education that advances the profession.
Since the inaugural Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award was given by the National Press Photographers Association in 1949, the organization has continued to recognize individuals for their special contributions to the NPPA and the wider field of visual journalism.