The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) and OnAsia, the region's leading stock photography and assignment agency, unveiled the winners of the annual FCCT/OnAsia Photojournalism Contest.

The contest was the largest in its six-year history, attracting submissions from more than 375 photographers, a record, and over 6,000 images. Judges
selected winners in four categories: Spot News, Feature Photography, Migration (a special category sponsored by the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand) and Photo Essay. In addition, the judges selected a Photographer of the Year, the contest's top prize.

This year's winners are:

Photographer of the Year:

    Vlad Sokhin

Spot News

    First Place: Munir uz Zaman/AFP (Rohingya Muslims)
    Honorable Mention: Christophe Archambault/AFP (Aung San Suu Kyi campaign)
    Honorable Mention: Kauser Haider (Bangladesh landslide)

Feature Photography

    First Place: Alex Hofford/Greenpeace (compressor diving)
    Honorable Mention: Akhlas Uddin (Bangladesh day laborer)


    First Place: James Robert Fuller (Burma to Buffalo)

Photo Essay

    First Place: Kazuhiko Matsumura (Subtle Beauty Japan)
    Honorable Mention: Andri Tambunan (Against All Odds: HIV in Papua)

The FCCT / OnAsia Photojournalism Contest has become firmly-established as one of the most important photo contests in Asia since its inception in 2007. The rising volume of submissions - and the continued high quality of images - offers compelling evidence that photojournalism is alive and well in Asia, despite economic pressures in the international media industry that are making it harder for photojournalists to earn a living.

The judges expressed the highest praise for the work of Vlad Sokhin, a Russian/Portuguese documentary photographer residing in Sydney, Australia, who won the year's top award: Photographer of the Year. Mr. Sokhin delivered an extraordinary collection of photo essays that stood out for their technical and visual skill, narrative complexity and diversity of subject matter with images from geographic locations - including Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu - that most journalists in the region rarely visit.

Of particular interest to judges was his devastating report on the issue of violence against women in Papua New Guinea, where Mr. Sokhin documented an epidemic of criminally violent behavior, including group attacks on women targeted as "sorcerers," rapes, and episodes of domestic violence that all too often went unpunished. The harrowing victims' tales chronicled by Mr. Sokhin required extensive reportage in a challenging environment and represented the highest ideals of the FCCT / OnAsia Photojournalism Contest, bringing needed visibility to an issue of global significance that has not yet received the international attention it deserves. Mr. Sokhin's other work chronicled so-called "cargo cults" in Melanesia that focus on obtaining material wealth from the West, as well as the modernization of Dani tribal people in Indonesia's Papua province as they feel more pressure from the outside world.

The judges were also highly pleased with the submissions for the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand's Migration category, a special category established this year focusing on issues related to migration in Asia, and the challenges faced by refugees and migrants as they embark on new and challenging lives far from their homes. The EU has sponsored similar special categories in past years focusing on the environment and human rights in Asia.

The category's winner, Chiang Mai-based photojournalist James Robert Fuller, submitted images from a long-term project following an ethnic Karen family as it resettles from Myanmar to the United States. According to Mr. Fuller, the project documented "the transition of identities within the family and their changing notions of 'home'" as they adjusted to their new lives abroad. The photo essay also arrived at a time when political reforms in Myanmar are changing the debate for many migrant families. Eligible for foreign citizenship, but encouraged by opposition leaders and others to return home, they are now presented with extremely difficult choices over how and where to build their futures. The judges praised the photos for taking viewers deep inside the daily lives of people whose fates are all too often forgotten by the wider world, showing first-hand their struggles, the opportunities that exist for them overseas, and the gravity of the dilemmas they face as they try to survive in a changing world. Providing such an in-depth look required intense dedication and hard work on the part of the photographer, who built up enough trust with his subjects to show them in some of their most intimate moments.

'We are delighted to support the FCCT/OnAsia photo contest for the third year in a row," said David Lipman, Head of the European Union to Thailand:. Every year we highlight a theme of particular interest. After 'human rights' and 'climate change' in past years, this year we have chosen to focus on migration, one of the important themes of our times. As part of the EU's external policy we have dialogue and cooperate on migration-related themes with countries outside the EU. Here in Thailand, we have supported the establishment of regional mechanisms that protect migrant children. We have also funded projects fighting against human trafficking and have organised workshops on matters related to migration. Regardless of their origin or legal status, the men and women generically referred to as "migrants" have basic human. It is the duty of each and every one of us to make sure that these rights are respected and upheld.

Winners in the spot news, feature photography and photo essay categories won $1,000 cash and 1 round-trip ticket for economy-class air travel in Asia, courtesy of Star Alliance, the global airline network whose members include Thai Airways and other carriers. The winner in the migration category won $2,000 cash, courtesy of the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand. The Photographer of the Year won a $3,000 cash prize and round-trip ticket for economy-class air travel in Asia.

The contest would not have been possible without the generous support of FCCT's many sponsors, and its media partner, OnAsia:

OnAsia (www.onasia.com) is the leading Asia-specialized editorial photo-agency. The agency represents over 200 photographers across the region who cover a wide variety of subjects; from political and social trends, gritty photo reportage to more colorful and humorous travel and illustration imagery.

Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited is one of the largest vertically integrated polyester chain producers in the world whose products serve major players in the food, beverage, personal and home care, health care, automotive, textile and industrial sectors. Indorama is a major supporter of FCCT and its events. It provided significant financial support for prizes for this year's contest.

The Delegation of the European Union in Thailand represents European Union interests in Thailand and promotes human rights and other development issues. It provided financial support for a migration issues category in this year's contest.

Diethelm Travel Group has 55 years of experience providing full travel services and is one of the oldest and best-known travel service providers in Asia, with offices in Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. It has a worldwide reputation for first-class travel. It provided significant financial support for prizes in this year's contest.

Star Alliance is a global airline network that includes Thai Airways and other major international carriers. It provided round-trip plane tickets in Asia for contest prizes.

TQPR Thailand is a leading independent firm dedicated to providing consultancy services and value-added results to local, regional and global clients. TQPR provided administrative and consulting support for promoting this year's contest.

Bloom Digital Photo Lab is one of Bangkok's most-trusted photo imaging labs and a long-time partner of the FCCT. It provided high-quality prints of the winning images for exhibition at the FCCT clubhouse and other services.

Documentary Arts Asia is a Thailand-based not-for-profit organization that supports the production and dissemination of documentary photography and film in Asia. It runs a two-story gallery in Chiang Mai and manages a number of other programs to promote photographers and filmmakers to spend up to three months working on cultural, environmental or human-rights projects.

This year's awards are also made possible by the acclaimed photography experts who served as judges for the contest:

Dirk Claus is Photoeditor Asia for Stern Magazine in Hong Kong and now in Bangkok. Formerly he was head of Stern.de's photo department from 2001 until 2008, and head of the Picture International Photoagency in Hamburg from 1997 until 2001. He has also worked as a photography assistant and producer in Amsterdam and Hamburg and holds a master's degree in international multimedia journalism from Bolton University.

David Longstreath is a freelance photographer based in northern Thailand who worked previously as an Associated Press photographer and editor for 30 years, the last 15 based in Bangkok. Over the years he has photographed historic events from the death of Pol Pot and the funeral of Mother Teresa and worked in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, and Myanmar, as well as in the U.S. He was part of team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its photographic coverage of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential election.

Pornchai Kittiwongsakul is a photographer for Agence France Presse / Getty based in Bangkok. His work has included assignments covering a range of regional news stories in recent years, including the 2010 political violence in Bangkok, conflict on the Thai-Cambodia border, ethnic fighting in Myanmar, and unrest in southern Thailand.

The FCCT will continue to display the winning photos at its clubhouse during a special exhibition until the end of April.

FCCT Photo Contest Winners Exhibition
Dates: March 22 - April 27


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