For Asians, By Asians
In 2020, a group of Asian photographers working and living in Asia and USA — Kay Chin Tay of Singapore, Prashant Panjiar of India, Maye-E Wong, a Singaporean based in USA, and Tanya Habjouqa of Jordan — came together to create POY Asia. The newest member of the POYi family will be co-directed by Tay and POYi Director Lynden Steele. In 2021, the group launched its first competition modelled after POYi.
POYi is synonymous with the Missouri School of Journalism, where photojournalism education at a university level was introduced in 1943. The competition was founded by Cliff and Vi Edom in 1944 as the “First Annual Fifty-Print Exhibition.” In the first year, 60 American photographers contributed 223 photographic prints. Student volunteers wearing white gloves held up pictures in front of a jury panel, who silently voted by raising signs that said “in” or “out.”
As the competition became an annual event, leaders from the journalism industry supported the effort. Notable names include famed photo director Roy Stryker, Life magazine Executive Editor Wilson Hicks, picture editor Stan Kalish and photographer Joe Rosenthal.
A year after creating POYi, the Edoms founded College Photographer of the Year, a competition recognizing the best in collegiate photojournalism. Directed by Missouri School of Journalism Associate Professor Jackie Bell, CPOY celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. To see the competition and past winners, go to www.cpoy.org.
While there has long been strong international representation, the American-centric Pictures of the Year contest changed its name in 2001 to signify a new direction. It became Pictures of the Year International.
In 2011, Loup Langton and Pablo Corral Vega worked with POYi to create POY Latin America, which honors documentary and artistic photography in Iberoamerica. It has become one of the most important competitions in the region. In response to the pandemic, POY Latam launched “Postales Del Coronavirus” (Postcards from the Coronavirus), an online magazine devoted to stories about living through the age of COVID-19. It is inspiring! Visit poylatam.org.
In 2020, a group of Asian photographers working and living in Asia and USA — Kay Chin Tay of Singapore, Prashant Panjiar of India, Maye-E Wong, a Singaporean based in USA, and Tanya Habjouqa of Jordan — came together to create POY Asia. The newest member of the POYi family will be co-directed by Tay and POYi Director Lynden Steele. The group will launch its first competition, one modelled after POYi, in early 2021.
At its heart, POYi is an educational program. It connects students from all levels, organizes exhibitions and celebrates visual storytelling in all forms. Its archive of more than 50,000 images contains some of the most important news images from the past seven decades. Together, these programs enhance our understanding of the essential issues facing humanity.
POYi is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Learn more at www.rjionline.org.