Many thanks for your engagement on Twitter in regards to the questions raised by @DuckRabbitBlog towards the image submitted by Antonio Renuncio entitled ‘The Rising Tides Sons’ who won your top prize. As @DuckRabbitBlog points out in his Twitter thread, the image raises some troubling questions such as:
1. Why is the child sleeping in the sun?
2. Why is the child sleeping in an abandoned house?
As you can see without the caption the image reads more in regards to child endangerment than environmental protection. You caption the image with;
““The rising tide sons”, which shows a child sleeping inside his house destroyed by coastal erosion on Afiadenyigba beach in Ghana. The photo shines a spotlight on the rising sea-levels in West-African countries, which has forced thousands of people to leave their homes.”
In regards to this, I would like to add the following:
3. The interior of the house would suggest it has not just been destroyed, but is derelict; how is there a child asleep on a clean looking rug in such a location?
4. How does coastal erosion account for the condition of the house with no roof and stripped of any sign of previous inhabitation?
@DuckRabbitBlog also shows other work in his thread by Antonio, many of which show children, all seemingly poor and vulnerable, asleep in various positions and locations. This itself raises more questions in regards to a common trend of white, repeatedly male, Western photographers parachuting into austere and impoverished locations, taking images of frequently poverty stricken subjects, often taking no care to hide the identities of those shown and be rewarded for their efforts. Such images, were they to be taken in the home countries of the competitions or photographers themselves test the limits of legality, often falling on the wrong side.
Understanding how this image came to be shortlisted and win, including if the questions I have asked were raised and answered, would be welcome. As a photographer I am suspicious that such images are posed and often subject those depicted to further trauma. As a former member of the British Army (I served from ’02- ’09 and my service included operational tours to Iraq and Afghanistan) I have experience of living in harsh conditions and do not recognise what Antonio shows. As such the potential staging of the image also raises concerns and I hope the photographer, the releases and background to the image were verified in addition to your competition having suitable T&Cs to ensure neither real life nor digital manipulation of a scene or frame are allowed.
I trust the photograph was suitable vetted and investigated as rewarding images that misrepresent is troubling as it encourages others to copy the potential abuse and perpetuate the cycle and I urge you to be transparent in your decisions and answers.
Lastly, your Tweet offered involvement by interested parties to be part of discussions (presumably about this image and maybe the wider topic of photo ethics); I’d love to be involved and please let me know when and how such a discussion will take place.
Thanks again for your engagement and I look forward to hearing from you.