Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica Barnack Award: 12 finalists announced, presentation on October 31 in Berlin

Leica Barnack Award: 12 finalists announced, presentation on October 31 in Berlin

 Road to Ruin: Image Christian Werner
Road to Ruin: Image Christian Werner
  Between the Mountains and the Water: Image Kechun Zhang
Between the Mountains and the Water: Image Kechun Zhang

This year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Award contestants have been narrowed down to 12 finalists out of 2,500 photographers for 110 different countries. The portfolios will be presented at the Neuen Schule für Fotographie (Brunnenstrasse 188-190) in Berlin from 10 to 31 October. This will coincide with the European Month of Photography, also in Berlin. 

According to Leica, the Barnack Award with cash prizes of around €80,000 is one of the industry’s most prestigious photographic competitions. 

The winner of the main category will receive €25,000 and a Leica M system to a value of €10,000. The winner of the Newcomer Award will get a cash prize of 10,000 euros and will also be presented with a Leica rangefinder camera and lens. In addition to the two main categories, ten further submissions to the competition will each receive prizes of 2,500 euros.

Here are a couple of examples from German Christian Werner and Kechun Zhang of China.




  1. I’m always in two minds about photo competitions as determining which work is ‘better’ has inherent problematic issues mainly relating to comparing one piece of photographic work to another. The best and, indeed, the only valid way to decide such competitions is for the judges to determine which are the works they like best and to work from there. Any so-called ‘objectivity’ is open to criticism of being spurious and just an attempt to avoid announcing hard decisions.

    All 10 of the short listed groups of works would make a worthy winner and each of them should get a prize, but there can be only one winner. My eye was drawn to the photographs of Syria by Christian Werner and the Belfast photos by Stephen Dock, for obvious reasons. I see that there is no script with the Leica press release, but I imagine that the judges have more information about the subject matter of each group of photos or can, at least, ask questions about what is represented in the photos.

    Anyway, the judges have chosen well, but I am sure that some other equally splendid works failed to make the final 10. Leica deserves a lot of credit for the way that it has supported photography and photographers, particularly those photographers who do not carry a ‘big name’.


    • William I totally agree with all you say on this. Some time ago I decided that photo competitions-even at the highest level-are a form of lottery. You win if the judges on the day like your photo. I have able to test this theory first hand over the past twelve months. Eighteen months ago I won the Premium Class of a valuable competition. I won a useful pot of cash and the judges were fulsome in their praise for my photo.
      Since that win I have entered that same photo in six other major and four minor competitions. It has not even been short shortlisted in any of them!
      I had another photo which was runnner up in a competition run by the Sydney Morning Herald. There were thousands of entries so being selected as runner up meant something. I have since entered that photo in four other competitions. Not a mention.
      I do not buy lottery tickets but I reckon that even with a really good photo you stand as much chance of winning a major or even a minor competition as you do of winning the lottery because the basic process is the same-chance.

      • The problem I see having won nothing except a Blue Peter competition in the late 70’s for a drawing of the Blue Peter Cat is that the whole process is subjective, and by its inherent nature cannot be truly objective. The five pound Smiths voucher was well recieved and duly spent.

        When I look through my Flickr account, the most faved photo’s are not the one’s I am most proud of. In fact the first one that took off, got explored and is still to this day No.1, was an experiment with my newly acquired X about a year ago. It is almost random as to why it is so well loved. My personal favourite images have very few faves. So I assume my taste is not good, either that or I am just a poor hack with a camera.

        I have only ever entered a small number of photographic competitions, but haven’t acheived a single thing with them. So agree totally with your analogy above.



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