The renowned photography competition has entered its 43rd edition. Once again, the excitement surrounding who will be honoured at a ceremony in Wetzlar on October 12, within the framework of a grand Celebration of Photography, is palpable. The second phase of LOBA 2023 saw the shortlist put together by this year’s jury, and drawn from submissions made by around 60 experts from the international photography scene, from over 30 countries. The series winning the LOBA Newcomer Award, for photographers under 30 years of age, and selected from submissions made by international institutions and high schools from 15 countries, is also on the shortlist.
In this segment we are introducing the first six series on the 2023 LOBA shortlist.
Eric Bouvet: Elevations
The focus of this series is on the mountains and glaciers of the French Alps. After decades working all over the world as a photojournalist, Eric Bouvet began using a large-format camera ten years ago, as a way to pay tribute to 19th century technology. “I turned towards large-format which, due to the weight of the equipment and a certain type of archaism, implies more consideration while working and preparing the shot.” Bouvet was born in Paris in 1961, and in previous decades worked as a photojournalist in nearly every crisis region around the world. He started working on documentary projects in 2011, using a large-format camera. This resulted in monumental motifs, which he discovered on his hikes around Mont Blanc.
Ismail Ferdous: Sea Beach
This series was taken at Cox’s Bazar Beach, a long stretch of coastline along the Bay of Bengal, right next to the city of the same name. “Tourists from all 64 Bangladeshi districts flood Cox’s Bazar Beach. It’s an incredible experience to hear the different dialects, and to meet people from every walk of life,” the photographer explains. “The beach is a true melting pot, where Bangladeshi culture, people and languages come together in a unique and lively manner.” Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1989, Ferdous has been living in New York for the last seven years. Compared to his tough, photo-journalistic themes from Bangladesh, his beach series is a clearly artistic interaction defined by light, colours and relaxation.
Natela Grigalashvili: The Final Days of Georgian Nomads
The Georgian photographer has been researching and observing the village communities in Adjara, one of the most unusual mountain regions in Georgia, since 2013. Ancient traditions and nomadic lifestyles have been maintained there to this day, but the difficult social and economic situation is bringing increasing change to the region. People are moving away, complete villages are abandoned, and the ancient traditions are gradually disappearing as a result. “I want to depict the lives of these people in my photos, preserve the traditions that disappear with the decline of the population and the arrival of globalisation – to preserve those things that may no longer exist tomorrow,” Grigalashvili explains. The photographer was born in 1965 and works as a freelance documentary photographer in Tbilisi, Georgia, with a preference for long-term projects.
Jonas Kakó: The Dying River
The Colorado River once flowed continuously for 2000 kilometres, from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. In recent decades, however, irrigation projects, agriculture, water diversion and the building of dams and reservoirs, have seen the water level drop to a threatening low. “This project was the most comprehensive and challenging one I’ve done so far,” says the German photographer (born 1992), who has set himself the goal of exploring the full length of the tamed river. “I was able to develop my photography on the trips to the Colorado, and I’m very happy to have been able to present the project in these dimensions.” The future looks very dramatic, especially for the indigenous Cucapá people who live in the Colorado Delta: without the river their culture too will die.
Gustavo Minas: Liquid Cities
People in places of transit: the Brazilian photographer’s impressive images convey feelings of isolation, alienation, and even fear. The exciting series was taken in a variety of cities, above all in America, but also in Europe. By often integrating reflections into his images, Minas captures a number of layers of reality, which are defined by the varied personal needs of different social and societal groups. “Photography is my way of dealing with the world around me. A tool for discovering it. And, literally, the reason why I get out of bed every morning, generally very early to catch the best light,” says the Brazilian photographer (born 1981), who lives today in the country’s capital, Brasília.
Laetitia Vançon: Tributes to Odesa
The Russian war in Ukraine continues to rage day after day. The starting point for the photographer’s series was the question of what existence in a state of war might look like? In June 2022 she travelled to Odesa, where she captured touching motifs reflecting daily life for the Ukrainian population. Her series is a testimony to humaneness, hope and courage during devastating times – and speaks about how life goes on despite adverse circumstances. “When finding motifs for my photographs in Odesa or any other location, I seek to capture scenes that evoke a sense of place and convey the unique atmosphere and feeling of the city,” the French photographer (born 1979), who currently lives in Munich, explains.
The complete series together with further information can be found at the LOBA website.
Following the award ceremony on October 12 in Wetzlar, an extensive exhibition of all the LOBA shortlist series will be on display at the Ernst Leitz Museum, accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue.