Getty Images, in partnership with Instagram, have announced three winners of the first annual Getty Images Instagram Grant, which recognizes photographers who’ve used the social media platform to tell underreported stories around the world. The winners, all of whom are experienced professional photographers, have documented communities in Bangladesh, Latin America and Russia. They will each receive $10,000 and mentorship from Getty photojournalists, and their work will be part of an exhibit which opens today at Photoville in Brooklyn, New York.
Brazilian-born photojournalist Adriana Zehbrauskas (@adrianazehbrauskas), who lives in Mexico City and whose clients include The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Sunday Times, was recognized for her photographs covering climate change and the everyday lives of Latin Americans. Zehbruskas, who worked as a staff photographer at a Brazilian newspaper for 11 years before moving to Mexico, says she began publishing her work on Instagram “naturally” and that her feed evolved from a place where she shared personal images to a space for professional work. “The fact that you could share something in real time appealed to me, maybe because of my newspaper background,” she told PDN via email. She says Instagram allowed her to “post images that were true to my vision and style” without having to conform to the wishes of a publication. It also allowed her to “build a story over time, in just one place.”
Documentary photographer Ismail Ferdous won for his project “After Rana Plaza,” which documents the lives of the survivors of the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Ferdous created the @afterranaplaza Instagram feed to share those stories. Ferdous has an unusual way of sharing his stories on Instagram, publishing still images with audio commentary from his subjects.
Dmitry Markov (@dcim.ru) of Pskov, Russia, has used Instagram to share his photographs of orphaned children and highlight the work of charities for which he volunteers, such as the Russian Children’s Fund.
The three recipients were chosen from more than 1,200 photographers in 109 countries, Getty Images said in a statement. Judges for the grants were National Geographic photographer David Guttenfelder; TIME director of photography Kira Pollack; photographers Maggie Steber and Malin Fezehai; and photographer and @everydayiran co-founder Ramin Talaie.
The three recipients “could not better exemplify the original aim of this grant: to document and share stories of underrepresented communities that otherwise rarely come into focus,” said Elodie Mailliet, Getty Images’ Senior Director of Content Partnerships.
Zehbrauskas plans to use the grant money to start a new project creating portraits of the families of 43 students who disappeared from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers School last year. Family portraits are important as “a proof of existence, [and in] perpetuating memory and hopefully saving [the missing students] from the fate of being forever forgotten,” Zehbrauskas says.
Beyond the financial award, the recognition for her work “means a great deal,” she adds. “It means that someone is listening to what you have to say, that it is worth it to keep doing it and believing in it.”
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