The winner in this year’s newcomer competition is Piotr Zbierski from Poland. His portfolio, ‘Pass by Me’, wins the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2012’ and a Leica M9-P with lens. The prizes will be presented on 3 July 2012 at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie photograph festival in Arles, in the south of France. All portfolios entered for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2012 can be viewed at www.leica-oskar-barnack-award.com.
The rights to all images are held by the photographers.
‘Pass by me’, the winning portfolio for the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2012’, represents the culmination of a project on which Polish photographer Piotr Zbierski has been working for five years. In his long-term project entitled ‘White Elephant’, the photographer explores the expression of emotions and the question of to what extent they can alter reality. In this, he is particularly fascinated by chance encounters. His view of people in the role of an impartial observer, fleeting encounters with strangers – without prior knowledge of his subjects – enables him to see what is pure and essential: people and their entire world of emotions. In the words of Piotr Zbierski, ‘I chose photography because it lets me get very close to people. It is the only medium with a directness that lets me show the existence of the imagination in the real world.’ In his images, he concentrates on faces, gestures, the expression of feelings and relationships. His images have no pretension of being original, but instead are authentic. They depict scenes from the heart of life itself, captured at a wide variety of locations. The majority were shot on journeys through eastern Europe and India. Although the portfolio appears to have a random structure at first sight, an underlying order and relationship exists between the images. Together they build an entirety and relate a story of happiness, memories and encounters characterised by the photographer’s own particular style.
Piotr Zbierski, born in 1987, attended the Polish National Film School from 2006 to 2012 and graduated with a master’s degree. Selected images from his ‘White Elephant’ projects have already been shown in various exhibitions in Poland, Russia and Portugal.
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2012 recorded a new record of over 2,800 entries (last year, 2,000 photographers took part). Professional photographers from 101 countries took part in the competition. The majority of this year’s submissions came from Germany, China and the USA. The jury members included: Bruce Gilden, Magnum photographer; Stephan Erfurt, director of the C/O Berlin; Valérie Fougeirol, creative director of the Magnum Gallery in Paris, Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, artistic director of the Leica Galerie in Salzburg and Brigitte Schaller, art director of Leica Fotografie International magazine.