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Ukrainian Laureates of the World's Most Prestigious Photography Awards

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Photo: Ukrainian artists have been winning photographic "Oscars" for almost 25 years, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko
Photo: Ukrainian artists have been winning photographic "Oscars" for almost 25 years, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko

In the world of photography, there are equivalent "Oscars" and top achievements. These are awards and photo competitions, where winning almost instantly places the photographer in a global context and makes them well-known. Although Ukraine won its first cinematic "Oscar" only this year for the documentary film "20 Days in Mariupol", Ukrainian artists have been winning photographic "Oscars" for almost 25 years.

Most Ukrainian photographers who have achieved worldwide recognition are related to a unique association that emerged in Kharkiv in the 1970s and still exists today. This association is conditionally called the "Kharkiv School of Photography." In this case, it is not so much a school in the classical sense, but rather a tradition and creative approach passed on from one generation of artists to another. They are united primarily by their view of photography as contemporary art. This specific perspective is in high demand in the global art space. Each decade, the Kharkiv School of Photography brings forth a new generation of contemporary artists, and this process does not stop. However, it is not the only centre of Ukrainian photography.

Borys Mykhailov - Hasselblad Award (2000)

Borys Mykhailov (not present in social networks) is the most famous and significant figure in Ukrainian photography worldwide. One of the founders and the main driving force behind the Kharkiv School at its inception. For many years, he has been considered not only the most renowned Ukrainian photographer but also one of the most famous photographers in the world. Since the 1960s, Borys Mykhailov has been tirelessly working, creating new photographic series that the most prestigious museums in the world are eager to acquire. The main themes of Mykhailov's work are sharply social. Many of his most famous works highlight the decline and collapse of the USSR, which Mykhailov witnessed firsthand.

In 2000, Borys Mykhailov's long-standing fame was recognized with the world's most prestigious photography award. The list of Hasselblad Award laureates over the years can be studied to learn the history of world photography. It is a true roll call of geniuses, including Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Josef Koudelka, Sebastião Salgado, Robert Frank, and other equally grand figures. It is more than just an "Oscar"; it is a real hall of fame of photography, consisting of genuinely historic and significant personalities.

Roman Pyatkovka - Sony World Photography Awards (2013)

Roman Pyatkovka, also born in Kharkiv, is a part of the Kharkiv School of Photography. His approach to art was shaped by his interaction and creative collaboration with Borys Mykhailov, yet Pyatkovka's themes in his work are entirely different.

While Borys Mykhailov is primarily known for powerful social projects, Roman Pyatkovka is interested in exploring private human spaces and the phenomenon of corporeality. His works often involve voyeuristic glimpses into the most intimate moments of human life, which, at the same time, are characteristic of every person and are not unnatural. This combination of intimacy and ordinariness is what makes Pyatkovka's works so naturalistic and touching.

In 2013, Roman Pyatkovka received the main award in the "Conceptual Photography" category for his series "Soviet Photo" (2013) at the Sony World Photography Awards in London.

Serhiy Melnitchenko - Leica Oskar Barnack Award (2017)

Serhiy Melnitchenko was born in Mykolaiv, and before fully dedicating himself to photography, he was a professional dancer, a master of sports in ballroom dancing. It was a tour of his dance troupe to China that brought Serhiy one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world. During the performances, he began capturing the reality behind the scenes of the bright shows. It was for this series that Serhiy received the Leica Award, which subsequently made his name known to the global art community.

Since then, Serhiy has almost entirely reoriented towards activities in the field of art photography. He shoots new projects and teaches young photographers who see their development in the field of art photography. He founded the platform for conceptual and art photography "MYPH" (2018, Mykolaiv Young Photographers), which helps budding artists from his hometown train their vision and find their place in the global art space.

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award has been awarded since 1980, and among its laureates are many illustrious names in world photography: Sebastião Salgado, Chris Steele-Perkins, Gianni Berengo-Gardin, Larry Towell, and others.


Source: Facebook

Yevhen Maloletka - World Press Photo of the Year (2023)


Source: Screenshot DW

Yevhen Maloletka is the daring photojournalist who, along with videographer Mstyslav Chernov, found himself in besieged Mariupol at the beginning of the Russian invasion and created the Oscar-winning documentary "20 Days in Mariupol."

On March 9, 2022, Maloletka captured the aftermath of the Russian military’s shelling of Mariupol City Hospital No. 3 and the maternity ward patients. One of them, Marianna Vyshemirska, gave birth the day after the bombing, while another (whose name is unknown) died from her injuries. The photographs of the bombed maternity ward gained widespread recognition, becoming one of the symbols of this war. For these images, Maloletka received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, as well as the most prestigious global award in reportage photography, the World Press Photo of the Year.

The war in Ukraine has brought the greatest attention to reportage photographers. However, artists working in other genres are also doing everything to keep Ukraine in the global spotlight. Their talent, courage, and creative abilities are recognized year after year on the world's most prestigious photographic platforms. One can be sure that the list of top awards in the arsenal of Ukrainian photographers will continue to grow with new achievements.

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