This year's contest is dedicated to Dennis M. Sabangan who was
the European Pressphoto Agency's chief photographer in Manila,
Philippines who passed away on 29th June, 2015
and will be sadly missed.


The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) and LightRocket, the region's leading online photo platform serving members around the globe, have unveiled the winners of the 7th annual FCCT / LightRocket Asia-Pacific Photojournalism Contest.

The contest attracted submissions from more than 140 photographers and nearly 3,000 images. Judges selected winners in four categories: Spot News, Feature Photography, the Environment (a special category sponsored by Indorama Ventures Plc) 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: Jonas Gratzer

Spot News
First Place: Jonas Gratzer (Thailand protests)
Honorable Mention: Paula Bronstein (Rohingya refugees in Myanmar)

Feature Photography
First Place: Probal Rashid (Bangladesh power-line workers)
Honorable Mention: Scott Barbour (Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open)
Honorable Mention: Dennis M. Sabangan (Colour of life Philippines)

The Environment
First Place: Rubén Salgado Escudero (Solar power in Myanmar)
Honorable Mention: Danilo O. Victoriano Jr. (Churchgoers fighting climate change)
Honorable Mention: Narendra Shrestha (Protecting trees in Nepal)

Photo Essay
First Place: Anik Rahman (Bangladesh ferry disaster)
Honorable Mention: Arturo Rodriguez (Portraits of life in Myanmar)
Honorable Mention: Minzayar Oo (Jade mining in Myanmar)

The FCCT / Lightrocket photo contest, launched in 2007, is now widely-known as one of the most important photo events in Asia. Continuing strong interest from photographers is a reminder that photojournalism is alive and well in the region, despite economic pressures in the media industry that are making it harder for photojournalists to earn a living.

The judges expressed the highest praise for the work of Jonas Gratzer, a Swedish photographer born in 1981 who relocated to Bangkok in 2009 who won both the Photographer of the Year award and the Spot News single image category. Gratzer is regularly on assignment throughout Southeast Asia and the Indian sub-continent, with his work regularly featured in Scandinavian daily newspapers and magazines as well as numerous international publications. He was a nominee for the ICP Best Young Photographer award in 2011.

The judges were especially impressed by the surprising breadth of Gratzer's work over the past year, which included a whirlwind schedule of reporting trips across Asia, often in difficult reporting conditions. All his work revealed fresh insights, especially about conditions in forgotten or exploited areas. His submission included photos tracking sharia law officers as they police sections of Aceh, Indonesia; an essay profiling young women in India who are banding together to fight gender discrimination and other forms of abuse; and a set of images exposing the environmental degradation caused by under-regulated tannery operations in Bangladesh. Judges felt any of Gratzer's photo essays – each requiring extensive reportage in vastly different cultural settings – could have qualified as prize winners; the collective impact of all of them was even more powerful.

The judges were also highly pleased with the submissions for the Indorama Ventures Environment category, a special category established this year focusing on issues related to environmental issues in Asia.

The category's winner, Rubén Salgado Escudero, submitted ten portraits of everyday people using solar power in Myanmar. Judges said they liked the way he addressed the important issue of the lack of access to electricity in remote parts of this emerging country; while the portraits could have become repetitive, the judges said, he worked hard to make each image tell a different story. Mr. Escudero is a freelance photographer who quit his job as a video game animator to pursue a passion for documentary photography. He has spent the past two years working in Myanmar with the goal of raising awareness about the country. His work has been published in numerous international publications, including Time, GEO, and Al Jazeera-America.

Winners in the spot news, feature photography and photo essay categories each won $1,500. The winner in the Environment category won $2,000. The Photographer of the Year won $4,000. Total cash awards of US$10,500 are courtesy of Indorama Ventures and the GP Group.

The FCCT will display the winning photos at its clubhouse during a special exhibition. Dates are to be announced.

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

LightRocket (www.lightrocket.com) is a cutting edge online platform serving photographers and visual artists around the globe. Partnered with industry leader Getty Images, LightRocket provides serious enthusiast and professional photographers with the tools they need to present, promote, preserve and distribute their work, while creating opportunities for commission free sales.

Indorama Ventures PLC 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 financial support for prizes for this year's contest.

GP Group is a Bangkok-based conglomerate with interests in mining, hospitality, logistics, manufacturing, and numerous other industries. It began as a trading firm in Myanmar in 1868. It provided financial support for this year's contest.

Thai AirAsia's no frills ‘everyone can fly' philosophy has transformed the region's aviation sector, enabling a whole new generation of travelers to take to the skies. Winner of Skytrax's ‘World's Best Low-Cost Airline' for the past 7 years, the company combines safe and economic air travel with friendly and efficient service. From one route between Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in 2002, Air Asia now flies to over 88 destinations, has carried over 220 million guests and continues to grow.

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 journalists who served as judges for the contest:

Cedric Arnold is a British / French photographer who started his career in London and Belfast working for the agency Sygma. Based in Bangkok since late 2001, he now works on a freelance basis, both out of Bangkok and London, focusing mostly on long term projects, portraiture and films. His work has appeared in publications such as Time, Newsweek, Stern, Sunday Times Magazine, FT, Geo, Le Monde, New York Times. Cedric's personal work is part of private, institutional and museum collections such as the SOAS and British Library Collections.

Patrick Barta is a features editor for The Wall Street Journal and a former member of the FCCT board. Based in Bangkok since 2004, Mr. Barta focuses on developing investigative and enterprise projects for the global Journal, including multimedia/visual projects incorporating photography, video and interactive elements. He helped launch the FCCT/Lightrocket contest in 2007 and has remained one of its principle organizers.

Roland Neveu is a French photographer who has worked in many countries around the world. He is perhaps best known for his photographs of the Khmer Rouge when they took over Cambodia in 1975. He went on to cover fighting in the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Toureg rebellion in Mali, and did early reports about AIDS in Africa. He has also been a stills photographer on many movie sets, both in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. Married with two children, he has lived in Bangkok since 1992.

About the Photographers

Scott Barbour is an award winning photographer born in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he started his career as a photographer at a daily newspaper. He later moved to Australia and then London, where he was a staff photographer for Getty Images from 2002 to 2008, covering news in the U.K., Turkey, Pakistan and elsewhere. His past citations include winner of the Sony World Photography Awards and Pictures of the Year International POYi. He is a past runner-up for the British Press Photographer of the Year and finalist for the Australian Press Photographer of the Year.

Paula Bronstein is one of the most-decorated photographers working in Asia, specializing in frontline news and documentary work. She is a multiple-nominee and award winner of contests including the Pulitzer prizes, Pictures of The Year International, The National Press Photographer's Association and most recently Days Japan. She was also awarded the Photographer of the Year award in the FCCT/LightRocket 2010 contest. She worked as staff for major U.S. newspapers including The Hartford Courant and The Chicago Tribune before moving overseas to Bangkok, where she worked for Getty Images as a staff photographer for over a decade before becoming a freelancer, represented by Getty Images Reportage.

Rubén Salgado Escudero is a freelance photographer born in Madrid, Spain. He also lived in the U.S. and Germany before quitting his job as a video game animator to pursue a passion for documentary photography. He has spent the past 2 years working in Myanmar with the goal of raising awareness about the country. His work has been published in numerous international publications, including Time, GEO, and Al Jazeera-America.

Jonas Gratzer was born in 1981 and raised in Stockholm, Sweden. His career began in 2006 assisting photographers including Jonas Karlsson, a contract photographer for Vanity Fair. In 2009 he relocated to Bangkok where his career as a freelance photojournalist was established. He is regularly on assignment throughout Southeast Asia and the Indian sub-continent completing assignments for Scandinavian daily newspapers and magazines as well as international publications. He was a nominee for the International Center of Photography Best Young Photographer award in 2011. He focuses heavily on human rights, environmental exploitation and political upheaval, especially human trafficking.

Minzayar Oo is a documentary photographer and a photojournalist based in Yangon, Myanmar. He was born in Yangon in 1988 and began to have an interest in journalism in 2011 when he first attended a photography and story-building workshop at the Yangon Photo Festival. Using his background as a medical student, he was able shoot award-winning images of a birthing unit of a prominent government hospital in Yangon. Since then he has contributed to a number international news agencies, magazines and newspapers such as Reuters, The New York Times, National Geographic, and others. He is known for work on political and social issues in Myanmar and has shown work at festivals in Southeast Asia, France, Denmark, China, and Japan.

Anik Rahman was born in 1988 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is a self- taught freelance photojournalist based in Bangladesh, represented by Nur Photo Agency, Italy and Redux Pictures, USA. Although he studied business, his interest in human rights, politics and environmental issues drew him into photojournalism. His photographs have been exhibited in local and international exhibitions, including the Angkor Photo Workshops. He has received numerous citations, including Honorable Mention in National Press Photographers Association awards (2014), Portraits; Finalist, Fotorama Fest (2014); and Finalist, Magnum 30 Under 30 (2015).

Probal Rashid is a documentary photographer based on Dhaka, Bangladesh. His works have been published in international newspapers and magazines including Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph, and Focus magazine. He has exhibited photographs in Bangladesh, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, the U.K., and the U.S. USA and some of his works have been selected by the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts for their permanent collection. He won First Place, Feature Photography, in the 2010 FCCT/Lightrocket contest.

Arturo Rodriguez began to take pictures for EFE (Spain's national news agency) when he was 17. After that he worked for several newspapers, Reuters and The Associated Press in Spain before moving to Southeast Asia as a freelancer. He has published work in several Spanish newspapers and the International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, USA Today, Stern, Paris Match, and Greenpeace. In 2007 he was awarded two prizes in the World Press Photo competition and has received other prizes.

Dennis M. Sabangan was the European Pressphoto Agency's chief photographer in Manila, Philippines. Before he joined epa in 2003 he worked as photographer for major Philippine newspapers. From 2006 until 2008 he also served as chairperson of the Philippine Center for Photojournalism. Dennis covered such events as the 2004 Tsunami, the Myanmar Unrest, the US War Against Terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, World Cup and Euro Cup soccer, the 2008 Olympics, the Australian Open, the typhoon Haiyan, and the Pope's visit to the Philippines. Sadly, Sabangan passed away on 29th June, 2015 in Manila, Philippines and will be greatly missed.

Narendra Shrestha is a photojournalist from Nepal. He attended the International Institute of Journalism in Berlin and shot for various news publications before joining the European Pressphoto Agency in 2003. He has documented two major historical moments in Nepal: the Maoist insurgency (1996-2005) and a popular uprising in 2006. He has also covered the world's highest altitude cabinet meeting at the Everest Base Camp in 2009.He has received Nepal's New Achiever Award; First Prize in the Kathmandu International Film awards; and the grand prize at the Nepal National Photo Award.

Danilo O. Victoriano Jr. is an active member of the Rizal Camera Club interested in social causes, including the environment, human rights, and child welfare. He is a three-time winner of Photographer of the Year by the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation from 2012 to 2014. He is also a recipient of the Ani ng Dangal award, given by the National Commission of Culture and Arts in the Philippines, in 2012 and 2015.