Judge's Choice Single Image Award selected by guest judge Julia Chang-Lomonico (Fall 2021). Photo by Rafael Nascimento (Brazil).

Judges Choice Awards – Gallery

We are proud to share with you the award-winning photographs from our 10th international competition celebrating the very best in documentary family photography.

Preliminary round guest judges Irmina Walczak (Poland), Julia Chang-Lomonico (United States) and Zun Lee (Canada) were asked to choose three photographs and one photo series or photo story that they personally believe deserves recognition.

Guest Judge Irmina Walczak’s Selections


“Now is not the right time”

Photos by Peter Pflügler (Austria)

This started out as a story about my father’s suicide attempt. When I was two years old, he went into the woods with the intention of never coming back. This project was an investigation into the traces of a well-kept family secret. While I was revisiting my parents’ trauma – its places, objects and memories that I could not call my own – I found it here, inside myself. My body always knew. This is no longer a story about a suicide attempt. This is about the impossibility of secrets, about what we are sharing when we hide. This is about pain inflicted out of love, about the complexity of silence, and the unexplainable sadness of a boy. Mum, Dad, this is your trauma, that you kept wrapped up in countless colorful blankets and yet unknowingly handed over to me in a loving embrace. I will carry it with care.

Guest Judge Julia Chang-Lomonico’s Selections


“Men Don’t Cry”

Photos by Kyeongjun Yang (South Korea)

My dad cries a lot these days. Any sad movie never made him cry before. He didn’t cry when our dog died and when his son shaved his head to join the navy. He also didn’t cry on the day that his dad passed away and his mom abandoned him when he was six years old. And now I see his tears very often. “Men don’t cry.” He said this to me, who used to cry a lot, like a habit. He said I have to learn how to hold tears to be a ‘man.’ When he was a kid, he held his tears to protect himself from people who despised him just because he was an orphan. After he had a family, he didn’t cry to protect his wife and sons from this harsh world. The tears he held slowly rose from his feet to lachrymal gland. And the night the ‘man’ realized that he can’t hold anymore, the tears were already flowing on his cheeks. Now I see dad’s tears that nobody hadn’t noticed filling up inside of him. I asked if I could take a photograph of him when he was crying. Even at this moment, he tries to be a ‘man’. “Yes, but don’t show this to your mom. She will cry.”

Guest Judge Zun Lee’s Selections


“More Than A Year”

Photos by Emily Schiffer (United States)

Here in New York, the pandemic started like a bomb. Hospitals were full and morgues were overflowing. Ambulance sirens blared around the clock, reminding us not to take life for granted. My husband and I are sustaining the unsustainable: working from home without childcare, forgoing sleep to meet deadlines, and overseeing remote school for the first year and a half. As stress builds, we have not lost sight of our luck. Our children keep us going. I admire how they honor their feelings. Children have a unique ability to experience love, joy, and fear simultaneously, without compartmentalizing their experiences. My images explore their play and angst as we adapt to the new normal.

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The Documentary Family Awards is an international competition in search of the insightful and meaningful ways that documentary photographers explore the interpretation of family.