© Amy Elkins, "Four Years Out of a Death Row Sentence (Ocean), 2011," from "Black is the Day, Black is the Night."

© Amy Elkins, “Four Years Out of a Death Row Sentence (Ocean), 2011,” from “Black is the Day, Black is the Night.”

Photographer Amy Elkins has won the 2014 Aperture Portfolio Prize for two bodies of work exploring capital punishment. The Aperture Foundation announced the prize today.

For her series “Parting Words,” Elkins utilized the text of the last words of executed prisoners to reconstruct their mug shots and portraits. “These briefest of statements resonate with the micro-narratives of entire lives, tragic crimes, and opportunities and potential squandered,” writes Aperture Books Publisher Lesley A. Martin in a statement announcing Elkins’ award.

To create her second series on capital punishment, “Black is the Day, Black is the Night,” Elkins corresponded with death-row inmates and created images based on those conversations. In her series she combines these images with photographs of the physical letters, and with portraits of the inmates which she obscures digitally according to the amount of time the inmate has been incarcerated. “As viewers, we are invited to puzzle over an assortment of clues, including reenactments, exhibits submitted for our considerations, partial evidence, and statements both leading and misleading,” Martin writes.

The prize, which was judged by members of the Aperture staff and the organization’s work scholars, includes a $3,000 award and an exhibition at Aperture Gallery.

Elkins was chosen from a shortlist that included Matt Eich, Davide Monteleone, Max Pinckers and Sadie Wechsler. More than 1000 photographers submitted portfolios, Aperture said in a statement.

Previous winners of the Portfolio Prize have included Michael Corridore (2008), Alexander Gronsky (2009), David Favrod (2010), Sarah Palmer (2011), and Bryan Schutmaat (2013).

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