The winners of this year’s longstanding and internationally acclaimed Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA) photographic competition have been chosen. In the main category, ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award’, American photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz amazed the five members of the jury with his series titled ‘Water’ to become the 2019 winner.
In the category ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer’ for up-and-coming photographers up to the age of 28, German photographer Nanna Heitmann won the award with her project titled ‘Hiding from Baba Yaga’.
Leica Oskar Barnack Award winner 2019
LOBA winner Mustafah Abdulaziz, speaking about his winning portfolio ‘Water’: “Photographs have the potential to be beautiful by nature, but this makes me cautious. When it comes to content and composition, there must be a harmony with something else, otherwise I don’t believe them. When I don’t believe in them, I can’t expect the people who see them to believe in them, either.
For the pictures in ‘Water’‚ this means that I evaluate every part of my visual approach over and over again. There must be a continuous and organic process of discovery. ‘Water’ is my way of exploring the world, of taking part in it in a relevant and responsible way and lending meaning to an overwhelmingly big but immensely important topic. I work on this not only for the immense satisfaction it brings me, but also because it’s necessary. Our relationship to our planet could be the most important issue of our age.”
‘Water’, a long-term project that has taken the photographer around the world for the past eight years, illustrates and documents how people interact with nature and what this means for civilization and the future.
Born in New York in 1986, Mustafah Abdulaziz studied journalism and political sciences before transitioning to becoming a self-taught photographer. He moved to Berlin in 2011, after working as the first staff photographer for the ‘Wall Street Journal’. His long-term project ‘Water’, which he has been working on for more than eight years, was sponsored by the United Nations, WaterAid, WWF, VSCO and Google. The project has been published in ‘Spiegel’, ‘The Guardian’, ‘New Yorker’ and ‘Time’.
Born in Ulm, Germany, in 1994, Nanna Heitmann finished her studies of photojournalism and documentary photography with a semester abroad in the Siberian city of Tomsk. Her work was shortlisted for the ‘LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards’ organized by the online magazine in 2018. In the same year, she was also honored with the Vogue Italia Prize at the PH Museum women photographers grant for the portfolio shown here. She has been a candidate for membership of the Magnum agency since 2019.