French photographer is awarded top prize after impressing judges with an intimate portrait series challenging masculine archetypes

© Scarlett Coten, Mectoub

© Scarlett Coten (Winner, Grand prize): Mectoub

French photographer Scarlett Coten has claimed the top prize in 2016’s long-standing Leica Oskar Barnack award contest after impressing the competition judges with an impressive series of images challenging the archetypes of masculinity in the Arab world. Titled ‘Mectoub’, the judges were particularly impressed with her composition throughout the series, which they say draws the viewer’s eye to the dichotomy between social conformity and personal desires through intimate portraiture.

According to Coten, her fascination for the various aspects of changing society in North Africa and the Middle East has its roots in the Arab Spring. The title, ‘Mectoub’, is a play on words combining the Arab ‘maktub’, which stands for the inevitable in the sense of ‘it is written…’, and the French ‘mec’ a friendly slang expression for macho.

Aside from the title, she also walks away with the top cash prize of €25,000 and a further €10,000’s worth of Leica M-system gear.

© Scarlett Coten (Winner, Grand prize): Mectoub

© Scarlett Coten (Winner, Grand prize): Mectoub

The Leica Oskar Barnack competition is one of the longest-established and most prestigious international photographic competitions and has been held this year for the 36th time. The brief for photographers entering the competition is to perceive and document the interaction between people and their environment in a creative and ground-breaking style.

Also celebrated at the awards was Clémentine Schneidermann, winning the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award for her series entitled ‘The Unbearable, the Sadness and the Rest’. Her project combines the genres of documentary, portrait and fashion photography in unusual ways to document the town of Abertillery in South Wales – an area that, despite being embedded in beautiful countryside, is burdened with immense economic and social problems.

© Clémentine Schneidermann: The Unbearable, the Sadness and the Rest

© Clémentine Schneidermann (Winner, Newcomer Award): The Unbearable, the Sadness and the Rest

As the winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award, the Parisian-born photographer receives a cash prize of €10,000 and a Leica rangefinder camera.

The ten other finalists that made the shortlist for victory have also been awarded €2,500 for their achievement and their work will join the two winners as their projects are displayed for the public in both Berlin (29 September – 23 October) and Paris (10th – 13th November). More details of the exhibitions can be found at the Awards website.

© Scarlett Coten (Winner, Grand prize): Mectoub

© Scarlett Coten (Winner, Grand prize): Mectoub

© Clémentine Schneidermann (Winner, Newcomer Award): The Unbearable, the Sadness and the Rest

© Clémentine Schneidermann (Winner, Newcomer Award): The Unbearable, the Sadness and the Rest

© Max Pinckers, shortlisted: Two Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself

© Max Pinckers (shortlisted): Two Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself

© Guillaume Herbaut, shortlisted: Ukraine Maidan to Donbass

© Guillaume Herbaut (shortlisted): Ukraine Maidan to Donbass

© Giulio Piscitelli (shortlisted): Informal facilities in the Jungle

© Giulio Piscitelli (shortlisted): Informal facilities in the Jungle