Abir Abdullah wins The Alexia’13

The 2013 Alexia Foundation Grant judging took place at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University on Feb. 23, 2013. The judges were Lynn Johnson who works for National Geographic and various foundations, Getty Photographer John Moore, and Jim Dooley, former Newsday director of photography and current Executive Administrator of the Alexia Foundation.

The judging weekend began with the annual Alexia Foundation Photojournalism Seminar, with talks by judges Johnson and Moore. Founder Aphrodite Tsairis noted, “To a room packed full of students, the speakers described an exciting future for visual journalism. This new landscape will provide them with fertile ground in which to become the innovators of the 21st century. They exhorted the students to, ‘be socially conscious engagers in society and never stop shooting.’”

The judges’ hopefulness was confirmed by the quantity and caliber of applications received for the available grants this year.

“The overall quality of the student and professional entries was extremely high both in the photography and in the seriousness of the proposals,” observed Jim Dooley.

“As we judged, I was encouraged by the number of young photographers who still believe that, camera in hand, they can move our world forward toward awareness and peace,” added Lynn Johnson, “it was not only an honor to be a judge, but inspiring to be in the presence of so many powerful images and issues.”

Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to everyone who shared their powerful, important stories with us.

Abir Abdullah

Pro Winner

Abir Abdullah is the winner of the $15,000 Alexia Foundation 2013 Professional Grant.

Abdullah’s work will document the continuous threat fire presents for the working class communities of Dhaka, Bangladesh in basti (slums), garment factories and shopping malls. In the rapidly growing city, lack of fire safety precautions is omnipresent, and is particularly visible in the garment industry, Bangladesh’s most successful industry. The danger is compounded by corrupt officials who ignore building codes and greedy businessmen who bypass fire protection, making homes and workspaces death traps.

Abdullah is a part time teacher at Pathshala South Asian Media Institute and a stringer photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency in Bangladesh.

His numerous awards include:

• Mother Jones Award, 2001 for “Freedom Fighters: Veterans of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.”
• Nomination for the Joop Swart Masterclass by World Press Photo Foundation in 2001.
• Overall winner, Phaidon 55 Photography competition, 2001.
• 1st prize, WHO photo contest in Switzerland, 2002.
• 3rd place, Gordon Parks photo contest, USA, 2002.
• 2nd prize, Unicef Photographer of the year contest 2004, Germany.
• Gold prize, People and Portrait category, China International Press Photo Contest, 2008.
• 1st prize, People and Planet photo contest, 2010.

There were 433 applications that the judges narrowed down to six. Then Abdullah’s proposal and portfolio were selected as the best of the best. The other finalists, in no particular order, are freelance photographer Christian Werner based in Nordstemmen, Germany; Robin Hammond, a freelance photojournalist based in Paris, and a member of the photo agency Panos Pictures; Noriko Hayashi, a freelance photographer based in Tokyo; Alvaro Ybarra Zavala, 31, a Getty photographer based in Spain; Jenn Ackerman, a freelance photographer based in Minneapolis.

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