Regard - 1st Place Photo Series by Anna Grevenitis, United States.

Photo Series – Award Gallery

We are proud to share with you the award-winning photographs from our 8th international competition celebrating the very best in documentary family photography.

Award winners were chosen during the final round of judging recorded live from our three judges homes and subsequently streamed online around the world on October 14-15, 2020. Viewers had the opportunity to watch the unfiltered discussions and constructive feedback as winners were collectively chosen by esteemed judges Jide Alakija (United States), Lawrence Jackson (United States) and Leslie Kershaw (United States).

These award-winning photographs have been through two rounds of critical review and selection. Congratulations to winners!

1st Place Award


Photo Series by Anna Grevenitis, United States.

When my daughter was born, I was told that she had the “physical markers” for Down syndrome. A few days later, the diagnosis of Trisomy 21 was confirmed with a simple blood test. Today, sixteen years later, Luigia is a lively teenager, yet these “markers” have grown with her, and her disability remains visible to the outside world. As we try to go about our ordinary lives in our community, I often catch people staring, gawking at her, at us. Even though their gaze feels invasive, I perceive it as more questioning than judging, at least most of the time. With this on-going series “Regard”, I am opening a window into our reality. At first glance, it may seem that I am offering us as vulnerable prey to their judgement, yet in fact I am guarding our lives, and the viewers are caught gawking–my direct gaze at the camera. Because I believe in the connective power offered by the depiction of domesticity, I hope that “Regard” helps the audience rethink some of their assumptions about people living with disabilities and with this, I hope my series finds a humble spot within the movement that helps people with disabilities gain visibility.

Regard, May 25, 2015 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.
Regard, December 1, 2015 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.
Regard, August 13, 2017 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.
Regard, March 4, 2019 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.
Regard, October 6, 2019 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.
Regard, November 15, 2019 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.
Regard, March 28, 2020 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.
Regard, May 11, 2020 – Anna Grevenitis, United States.

2nd Place Award

Behind the Mask

Photo Series by Cornell Watson, United States.

Mask: a protective covering
This photo series is in honor of my ancestors who smiled when they were not happy, laughed when nothing was funny, and cried when they were not sad so that I could be here today.

“The Drowning” – My best friend is the father of three black boys and it was his birthday. The police murders of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were front of mind and this birthday celebration was supposed to be a brief break from reality. We were pouring drinks in the kitchen when I asked him how it felt turning another year older. What he said I was not expecting. The essence of his response was that his birthday was a reminder that he is one more year closer to having to explain to his boys why playing outside with toy guns was dangerous. One more year closer to explaining why that unarmed Black man died at the hands of those paid to protect him. One more year closer to having that dreadful talk about being Black boys in America. We created this photo on another Birthday, the 4th of July. In the process of creating the photograph someone approached and asked, “what is this supposed to represent?” Shortly after a white woman paddled by in her boat. She yelled to her husband, “Look honey! Look at the flag, that’s just not right!” She could only see the flag submerged in the water and not us drowning in it – Cornell Watson, United States.
“Righteous Rage” – We brought you into this world. The land you stole, the economy you propped up on the backs of our ancestors, the wars we fought for your freedom when we weren’t free brought you into this world. We are tired. We are tired of police brutality. We are tired of fighting every breathing minute for a quality education. We are tired of fighting for the acknowledgement of and rectification for unequal pay, voter suppression, loan discrimination, and redlining. We are tired of having the cops called on us for simply existing. Somewhere between prayer and burning it all down is the America we worked to build. During the creation of this photograph a Black pick-up truck lingered ominously. Shortly after finishing, two Halifax county sheriffs pulled up as we were leaving. We were the only ones there – Cornell Watson, United States.
“Survivors Guilt” – Donning her cap and gown they stood in east Durham, NC where she grew up. Staring at the effects of modern-day racism her children were visibly uncomfortable. Her son said, “honestly, how did you live through that?” These conditions were not meant for us to live through – Cornell Watson, United States.
“35” – This is a story that I only bore witness to, but this is not my story. How many happy stories, sad stories, angry stories, excited stories, do we not know because our sisters are stolen from us? How many of our sisters live a subdued version of their story because there is something or someone looming, ready to snuff out their light? A mask, on a mask, on a mask – Cornell Watson, United States.
“Allostatic Load” – Family, both blood and chosen, are the foundation of our survival. Black women are the roots, the trunk, the branch and the leaves. Black women create the oxygen we breathe. This is an Ode to Black women. Thank you – Cornell Watson, United States.
“Egg Shells” – Growing up in rural America is an experience with plenty of obvious reminders that we have not made much racial progress. Racism is rampant in every corner of life. The air we breathe, the water we drink, schools we attend, the policing of our communities, the laws we live under, the prison population that sits on land we were enslaved on, the streets named after our oppressors, and the statues that hover over us like scarecrows. It’s in our face everywhere we go. If you’re a Black woman then there is additional oppression from patriarchy. If you’re a Black queer woman there is homophobia. And yet, there is happiness, love, and strength. Being Black queer women while raising a Black daughter means constantly having to walk on egg shells. We knew we only had a few minutes to create this photograph because trouble is never far away when Black people are existing in public spaces. We were approached by two white men in a pick up truck just as we were wrapping up. They were saying something to us, but I could not make out what it was. And maybe that was for the best – Cornell Watson, United States.
“Weldon” – You deserve to have access to the same education they have 4 miles away. You deserve to not have confederate tourist signs and monuments in your neighborhood. You deserve to have resources and not resource officers. You deserve the benefit of the doubt. You deserve to know your history more than one month a year. You deserve a childhood without racial profiling and “the talk”. You deserve to be seen as kids and not criminals. You deserve to know that your Blackness is beautiful. You deserve better – Cornell Watson, United States.
“The Kitchen Table Incident” – Inspired by John Wilson’s “The Incident” and Carrie Mae Weems “The Kitchen Table Series” – Cornell Watson, United States.

3rd Place Award

Coping with Contractions

Photo Series by Lawren Snapka, United States.

It is a known phenomenon that if the birthing person has experienced any past trauma or sufferings, it can come up in labor. Sometimes that trauma stalls labor or impacts the ability to cope normally. Every birth is unique because every birthing person has their own past experiences that they bring with them in labor. This series portrays one Mother’s birth experience with her second child.

Lawren Snapka, United States.
Lawren Snapka, United States.
Lawren Snapka, United States.
Lawren Snapka, United States.
Lawren Snapka, United States.
Lawren Snapka, United States.
Lawren Snapka, United States.

4th Place Award

Would you like to play?

Photo Series by Orsolya Boncsér, Hungary.

In this personal project, I collect the essence of childhood, what we have in common. My inspiration is a Hungarian poem: Dezső Kosztolányi – Would you like to play? This is a short quote from the poem:

“Would you like to play being a serpent or a bird, a long voyage on a ship or on the train, all the good things, a Christmas and dreams and a happy lover, too, who only seems to cry, who only pretends feeling blue? To live inside a play which has become fully true, how’d you like living like that forever and ever? And here is a scene: between flowers you lie on the ground… Would you like to play that we die?” (Translated by Tamás Kalebdó)

5th Place Award

Syrian Family In Wartime

Photo Series by Mouneb Taim, Syria

With the passage of 10 years since the war, many families have lost some of their family members. Pictures that I will attach to you of people who have lost their entire families. The mother who screams has lost her family while she is at the breakfast table. As for the father, he lost his family while sleeping. Pictures taken in the war to tell what the meaning of family in Syria at a time War, devastation and the inexpressible thing from a miserable life of people without their families.

The mother screams who lost her family during an air raid that killed her children, just as her husband was killed two years ago while he was in prison – Mouneb Taim, Syria
The child looks with fear and terror as he hears the missile that breaks through the air as it descends to fall on his house and burn his entire family except for his little brother – Mouneb Taim, Syria
On a sunny day, the Syrian families emerge from among the rubble and as the scene appears, as they escape from the hell of the Day of Resurrection, but they flee in fear of another raid, they leave their home, and as the picture shows, every family leaves their destroyed house in a frightening condition – Mouneb Taim, Syria
The child sits on a bed inside an underground field hospital, behind him his brother, and as their family lost their mother and father during an air raid that killed them and as the child says that they were sitting at the breakfast table while carrying a broken cup of tea until they were pulled out from among the rubble, he was sticking to it – Mouneb Taim, Syria
A child sits on a bed while he is sitting in a very difficult condition, looking sadly after he lost his family from his mother during an air strike that killed her entire family – Mouneb Taim, Syria
The father walks in a destroyed street after his entire family and 80 other people were killed during an air raid that resulted in a major massacre in the city of Douma in the Syrian capital, Damascus. – Mouneb Taim, Syria
A family sits among the rubble of their home and hears the melody of the peacemaker who called himself this name, and as the family and children sit and hear melodies reminding them of their destroyed home – Mouneb Taim, Syria
His dream was to have a family and study and become like the famous player Messi, but the air strike killed his mother and father, he lost his sight and he lost his foot while in the schoolyard with his friends and his hopes were shattered due to the war – Mouneb Taim, Syria

Our preliminary round guest judges evaluated every single submission we received and selected thirty or less of their favourite photo series to move forward to the live-judging round as finalists. Our deepest thanks to talented photographers Jacque Jackson (United States), Lafayette Hicks (United States) and Sarah Jane Rabideau (Canada) for their hours of dedication during this process. Congratulations to these photographers who were nominated as finalists for consideration during the final round of live judging.

Finalist photographs by Lu Zhang, Stefanie Belnavis, Enrico Genovesi, Xiao Wenli Xiao, Mikaela Martin, Natalie Broders, Danielle Clements, Frederikke Brostrup, Jason Vinson, Heidi Harf, Lisa Winner, Nino Ninography, Mea Baráth, Rebecca Griffiths, Lauren Gayeski, Manu Rigoni, Bobbi Barbarich, Lee Kriel, Liliana Ranalletta, Luba Grosman, Lavinia Nitu, Amélie Pelletier, Minru Lin, Ursula Cardenas, Huan Deng, Jo De Magneval, Camporesi Sara, Karen Brunel Lafargue, Katie Torres, Shannon Christy, Shannon Christy, Pedro Vilela, Fiona Russell, Sara Easter, Elaine Baca, Didi Von Boch and Magdalena Adamczak.

(click or tap image collage to a view larger )

Watch the judging for this category

Stream on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.

This award cycle was made possible with the support of the following sponsors:

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