Uganda Press Photo Award up-skills photojournalists

The winners of Uganda’s Press Photo Awards are the next generation of artistic photographers.

Abou Kisige'a image won the grand prize at Uganda's Press Photo Awards.

Ugandan photojournalist Abou Kisige captured the moment a schoolgirl dug through the rubble of her demolished school just hours after an investor had razed it. The picture landed Kisige the first prize at Uganda’s Press Photo Award, a platform to showcase the work of photojournalists in Uganda and encourage a new generation of photographers.

According to the director of the awards, Anna Kućma, Kisige’s image captured the challenges faced in Kampala. “The judges felt that the winning image captured the current mood of great changes in Kampala and told a great story about how those changes play out, who they benefit and who they affect adversely.

“The judges referred to its depth as a single image, and to how it was possible to derive a range of meaning from that single shot, but the final deciding factor was its strength as a frame, capable of dominating a front page with an image that stuck with you long after you had looked at it.”

Ugandan photojournalists like Kisige are based all over the country with no training and no equipment. The aim of the awards is to uncover the hidden gems in Uganda’s photography scene and provide those photographers with the support and exposure they need to survive in the industry.

“The goal is to create a strong platform for photography in Uganda, to promote domestic production at home and abroad and encourage people to see the wider industry and try to situate themselves within it,” says Kućma.

“We are trying to get people interested in photography as a craft, and to make photography that falls outside of the newspaper format more accessible to the general public.”

Founded by Kućma, the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Uganda and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in 2012, the Uganda Press Photo Award hosts a number of workshops to prepare competitors for the opening of the competition. These workshops, along with panel discussions and portfolio reviews, were hosted in different parts of the country to broaden the scope of the competition and attract a range of talents. The programs also served to up the skill level of the entrants.

“I feel it is important to show more good photography in Uganda and to stimulate people visually so that they will have the tools to develop the language to tell their stories,” says Kućma.

Once the competition is underway, the photographs are judged based on the technical aspects of the image or the “nuts and bolts” as Kućma explains. "Is it in focus, is it well exposed, is it clear and does the subject stand out.”

The subject, viewpoint, composition, and content are also relevant to the judging process.  “A great news image is a work of art- it informs and it records, but it also draws the viewer into the story and allows them to imagine more of the scene they are reading about,” adds Kućma.

Other notable winners include Joel Nsadha who took the 1st prize in the Nature, Daily Life & Portrait categories and Sarah Waiswa who took home 1st prize for the Creative & Story categories; 2nd prize for Daily Life and 3rd for the Portrait category.

All the winning photography will be exhibited in the National Museum until 28 November.

These are the rest of 2015's winners: 

1st Place, Creative - Sarah Waiswa

Ugandan-born, Kenyan-based Sarah Waiswa, took first place in the Creative category for "Products of our environment". 

1st Place, Daily Life - Joel Nsadha Isababi


Taking first place in the Daily Life category is Joel Nsadha Isababi's "City Builder". 

1st Place, Nature - Joel Nsadha Isababi

In the Nature Category, Isababi's picture titled "Nile At The Source" scooped the top spot. 

1st Place, Portrait - Joel Nsadha Isababi

Winning a third 1st place spot is Isababi's portrait of Zaidi, a father of three from Bukoto who has been a boda-boda motorcycle taxi operator for 8 years. The scars on his body are signs of accidents he has been in over the years.

 1st Place, Sport - Samson Opus
In the category of sport, sports journalist Samson Opus won first place for an image taken during a Uganda Premier League encounter at a water-logged Wankulukuku stadium on November 28, 2014.
1st Place, Story - Sarah Waiswa
Sarah Waiswa's "Luke Warm" won first place in the story category. It tells the story of 10-year-old Luke who has been living with non-verbal autism.