Survival International photography contest sounds alert over ‘contrived’ tourist photos
February 23, 2015
[Photo credit: © Fiona Watson/Survival International]
Amateur and professional photographers are invited to enter the contest – Survival International’s second – for the chance to have their photos featured in the organisation’s 2016 calendar and published on its website.
Launching the 2015 competition, organisers said: ‘The winning images and overall winner will be selected not only for their originality and the strength of composition, but also for their demonstration of sensitivity to, and understanding of, tribal peoples, their ways of life and the issues that jeopardise their futures.’
However, in its rules of entry, Survival International – which fights for tribal peoples’ rights – warns: ‘[Images] contrived by a photographer or videographer to make tribal people appear more “traditional” than they are in reality, or where they dress for tourists, or which otherwise falsify their appearance or behaviour, are only knowingly used by Survival if this is explained.’
A spokesman said that, while such images will not face being banned from the competition, entrants will be asked to make clear when a subject has been dressed for tourists, for example.
In 2014, a photographer defended his book of large-format photos of tribal people after the director of charity Survival International condemned the portraits as a ‘contemporary invention’.
The row centred on UK-born photographer Jimmy Nelson who, in 2010, set out to find the world’s ‘last indigenous cultures’, to document them for future generations in his book Before They Pass Away.
Nelson came under attack from Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, who wrote a review of the book, accusing the photographer of ‘hubristic baloney’ and of documenting people ‘as they looked a generation or two earlier’.
Some images were a ‘photographer’s fantasy’, he claimed.
‘The subjects are posed as if they were models in the advertising salons where Nelson developed his career,’ wrote Corry in his review.
Responding to the accusations, Nelson, who used a 4x5in camera on his travels, told Amateur Photographer that his subjects were ‘directed, staged to portray the various individuals’.
He added that ‘it was done in co-operation and consent, and entails much more of their own way to present themselves than my small adjustments, and maybe improvements, in the most celebrated light technically possible’.
The closing date for the competition is 30 April 2015.
For full details, visit the competition website