Photographer Katinka Hustad won the Picture of the Year Award in Norway. The winning image, created during the Nordic Journalist Centre masterclass for Nordic and Russian Photojournalists, was shot in Russia and is now in the photobook “Next to Me”.
By Joan Rask
”We chose love rather than conflict”, says Søren Pagter, head of Department for Photojournalism at The Danish School of Media and Journalism and member of the jury of “Picture of The Year”.
At Nordic Journalist Centre this photo award is considered very special: Nordic photojournalist Katinka Hustad is highly topical in the photobook Next to Me, which has just been published. As one of 14 photojournalists she participated in a NJC Masterclass where Nordic photojournalists worked with their stories in Russia and other countries and the Russian Photojournalists worked in the Nordic countries. During the masterclass participants were introduced to photo theory, and they experimented and collaborated on a joint product – the photobook Next to Me.
“The NJC Masterclass was the beginning of something I’m now starting to grasp the range of. I am really grateful for having been part of this, and I hope that many young photojournalists will have the same opportunity,” says Katinka Hustad.
The last two years the jury of the Norwegian prizes have awarded photographs of warzones and refugees.
“Many excellent and relevant photographs show conflicts and problems. This year’s winning picture shows something different. It exposes intimacy and affection. It is an everyday life situation that everyone can understand and relate to, and at the same time it is subtle and makes the reader wonder: what is happening here?”, says Søren Pagter.
Love Defeats War and Fear
The Picture of The Year is from St. Petersburg. A young Russian couple has bought their first home in a block of flats called Greenlandia. They were promised high times, beautiful green spaces, playgrounds and blooming apple trees. This was before the sanctions against Russia. Lyubo Ivanova is an English teacher and the woman behind the curtain in the picture. In the book she says:
“I have this feeling that if I stop and look forward, I can’t see a clear picture. I think in Russia we all live in the present. We have a future, but we have no plan.”
Teacher Mads Greve, who also took part in the selection of the participating talents, has followed the class at close range.
”It’s fantastic that Katinka wins Picture of The Year and that the NJC Masterclass generates stories that end up among the most outstanding in Nordic photojournalism,” he says.
Even though recent winners of Picture of The Year have been toned down-photographs, Mads Greve is still surprised that Katinka Hustad’s picture of an everyday life situation was awarded.
”The picture is full of life and humour, and looking at it makes you curious and happy at the same time. An ordinary – almost romantic – situation with the young couple behind the pink flowers, and all of a sudden a cat is clinging to the curtain. The cat takes the overly romantic out of the scene and leaves us with a very fine moment,” says Mads Greve.
The Next to Me project is financed by Nordic Council of Ministers.
Nordic Journalist Centre has carried out the project in cooperation with The Danish School of Media and Journalism.
The book is the third in a row of Nordic/Russian photo books written in English.
Article: Pictures that open doors – NJC’s photo masterclass Next to Me, in Russia
Course description: Next to Me
Article: Great talent chosen for Master Class
Buy the book: Publishing Company Ajour – Next to Me
Press Photographers Club, Norway: Picture of the Year
The Jury’s Statement:
Picture of The Year by Katinka Hustad Photojournalism is so often about war, conflicts and the big radical changes in the world. But it is also about the small, intimate stories, about getting close and exposing change, optimism, love.
We have chosen to pay tribute to an everyday picture. A picture that makes you wonder and create your own story about what happens. It’s great when a photographer is actually capable of entering ordinary people’s lives and make everyday life generally interesting.
A small everyday story becomes a major story about optimism, love and hope for the future. After the EU and US sanctions against Russia in 2014 the country has suffered under a difficult recession. The couple in the picture symbolizes a sense of community and standing side by side in fear of Russian Utopia failing yet again.
The Picture of The Year is beautiful, absurd, humorous and astounding. It may not be an obvious choice, but the jury wanted to pay tribute to love rather than fear. Unaffected by the cat that clings to the curtain the couple is standing there behind the transparent curtains