© Frédéric Sautereau
Congratulations to Frédéric Sautereau who has won the International Daily Press Award at Visa Pour L'Image for his work on Gaza which appeared in La Croix.

Sautereau is no stranger to the area and has bodies of work including Jerusalem (and other divided cities), the wall separating Israel and the West Bank, Gaza and Hamas. It is a deserving win, though I look forward to the time when photographers from the region lead the way in producing award winning work about their homelands.

The obstacles in making that happen include education and economic hurdles, which -while not specific to this region -are typical of less developed countries, of which the greater Middle East is primarily comprised.

Training is beyond the means of many citizens of the region and Universities rarely have programs for those wishing to major in photography. That in turn effects the quality of instructors at the schools which could prevent students from reaching their potential.

Additionally, the cost of producing long-term and in-depth projects is often a costly undertaking which may take months or years (if ever) to recoup costs of. Since it is often in these more comprehensive projects that photographers develop their style and produce unique work which could gain international attention, photographers unable to spare the resources are at a disadvantage.

Compounding the problem, international photo buyers often hire western photographers based in other regions rather than hiring locally. This may be a practical decision since their aesthetics may be more in line with each other, they may not face the language barrier that many local photographers need to overcome, and the training of western photographers is often of a higher caliber. Western photographers also come from an industry where high expectations and serious critique are much more common than they are here and that aids in accelerating development in any field.

One training tool that it would be great to see used more frequently in the greater Middle East is mentoring. Just as assistants to photographers often learn more through their positions than they did in school, young photographers being mentored could gain valuable insights and experience from photographers, curators, teachers and picture editors.

Frédéric Sautereau and the others who were recognized at Visa Pour L'Image, like Stephanie Sinclair, Damon Winter, Lizzie Sadin, Martina Bacigalupo all deserve their success and their recognition. However, the hope remains that next year we see a winner from the greater Middle East.
© Frédéric Sautereau

© Frédéric Sautereau

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