The Prix Pictet calls itself "the global award in photography and sustainability". It is only the fourth year running for this international competition which always shows fascinating work of the highest quality. It's a big prize too; awarding a generous $105,000 to the winner,
Every year has a different theme: this year's is power. Given the huge disparity between the haves and have-nots in the world today, it's an interesting choice. As the judges explained "Power embraces contradiction and paradox in equal measure".
The 2012 winner is Luc Delahaye, a French photographer known for his large-scale colour works depicting conflicts, world events or social issues.
Luc Delahaye explains his work: "I try to put myself in situations that I feel have a certain relevance regarding what we call a shared destiny.
He often photographs wars:
The reality I’m interested in is that of people who struggle to act upon it as much as they are subject to it. I sometimes work where power presents itself as a spectacle, as an event produced for or with the media, and my pictures may then take an ironic undertone. But I photograph the ordinary man more often than the leader.
He describes his work:
There’s often a certain degree of lyricism in my images. It remains fairly cool and contained, but it colours them and seems to arrive as soon as they represent people, especially when they’re involved in an action with a tragic dimension. It’s a quality that has disappeared from advanced societies, where we are limited to the individual, utilitarian and ultimately absurd gesture. This gives me another reason, probably, to go to those places of hardship. It’s clear that I don’t really photograph the world as it is, but either as it should not be – hardship – or as it should be – man restored to history, an uncertain destiny yet a possibility of fellowship.
There were 12 nominees from all over the world; here are some of the others.
They also award money for a field trip to photograph the work of a charity: this year UK photographer Simon Norfolk will visit Afghanistan to interpret the work of Medair, the Swiss-based humanitarian organisation, in Bamyan Province in Afghanistan. This is an area with terrible flash floods. Medair does emergency and long term relief work with vulnerable communities; teaching them how to survive disasters as well as ways to reduce disasters such as flood prevention infrastructure.