We are pleased to introduce our esteemed judges, one at a time.
Anshika Varma is a photographer, editor and curator with an interest in personal, collective and mythical histories. Combining her curiosity to study cultural and social evolution with storytelling, her work often looks at the emotional connection between the individual and their environment. With photography and book-making, she is interested in exploring the intricate relationship between memory and object as markers of one’s identity. She is the Founder of Offset Projects, an initiative that works to create channels of engagement in photography and book-making through workshops, residencies, artist talks, pop-up reading rooms and collaborative exercises in publishing. Anshika has previously worked in editorial and journalism as a features and chief photographer for national political and cultural magazines in India. She continues to work as a freelancer with news organisations such as Bloomberg and The Quint and works with collaborations in publications with the development sector. Anshika’s works and curations have been shown at Goa Photo (2019 and 2017), Photo Kathmandu (2018), Chennai Photo Biennale (2016, 2019), Angkor Photo Festival (2018), Tbilsi Night of Photography (2018), Kochi Biennale (2014), New York Biennale for Contemporary Art (2013), India Art Fair (2012, 2013) and the Florence Biennial (2009) and published by various national and international media. Anshika is a strong believer in the power behind inclusive education and has conducted art therapy programs for children from challenging social and economic strata, as a mentor for children of Anjali House, Cambodia (2013-2018) , Clicking Together (Punjab and Chennai, 2017) and the Delhi Photo Festival (2013-2015).
Bryan van der Beek is a Singaporean commercial and editorial photographer. Educated at Indiana University’s School of Journalism, he has won awards for his work from the Hearst Journalism Awards Program, the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) and the Society of News Design. He was also a participant in the Eddie Adams Workshop, the Missouri Photo Workshop and the Kalish Picture Editing Workshop. He has worked at newspapers in the US and Singapore before striking out on his own and has been published in The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and the South China Morning Post among others. His works are in the permanent collection at the National Museum of Singapore. He has covered civil unrest in Indonesia, the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives as well as worked on environmental and social impact stories in the palm oil plantations of Indonesia and Eastern Malaysia. He also spent time documenting the SARS and COVID-19 epidemics from the front lines. He has lectured at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Temasek Polytechnic and the Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film, where he directed the Shooting Home workshop and mentorship program.
Suejin Shin is a creative director, writer, and professor. Combining psychology of vision and theory of photography, Shin has pioneered a unique field where science and art converge. Her basic research is developed and performed using psychological methods to analyze photographic images; in the applied field she consults on exhibition directing, publishing, and artist support program. She has been working as creative director for Hanjin Group’s Ilwoo Foundation and Culture Station 284, Korea, exhibition consultant for Seoul Arts Center, image copyright consultant for Imprima Korea, artistic director for ASEAN Korea Center, Consultant for the Korean Ministry of National Defense, and director for LAMPLAB. She writes columns for the leading press in S. Korea including “Suejin Shin’s Reading Photographs” for the Chosun Daily Newspaper, an opinion column for JoongAng Sunday, “The Art of Perspective” for the Economist Korea, and “The real creator” for Forbes Korea. Shin is the author of such works as Contemporary Korean Photography(2017), Reading Photographs with the Heart (2013), Photography: Opening the Age of Light (sponsored by RMN, French Union of National Museum, 2009), Photographs, Reading or Seeing (2006), and has directed more than 40 exhibitions in Korea and abroad, such as On the Line (sponsored by Korean Ministry of National Defense, Daelim Museum, 2010), The Masters of 20th Century (Seoul Arts Center, 2009), Sway in the Space (Daegu Photo Biennale, 2008), and Myth in the Mirror (Artsonje Center, 2007). Shin appeared as a lecturer and panelist on numerous TV programs. She gave lectures on contemporary art and psychology as the invited speaker at various corporations and government events such as Samsung Presidential Council, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Jeju Forum, the Korea Marketing Club, and KEPCO.
Jiro Ose is a Jakarta-based photojournalist. Born in Osaka, Japan, Ose has worked as a photojournalist at several daily newspapers before turning freelance in 2005. He has covered various events worldwide such as the historical election in the DR Congo and Sudanese refugee crisis, departure of deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, the Second Iraq War and others. He received various awards including the Award of Excellence in the Magazine General News Story category of the Pictures of the Year International competition for his coverage of DR Congo election. After spending 15 years in Africa and 3 years in the Middle East, Ose relocated to Jakarta, Indonesia. Ose is represented by Redux Pictures in New York and their partner agencies worldwide. His images have been published in major publications in various countries and exhibited in places such as Bilbao and London. He also had solo exhibitions in Kyoto and Osaka. Ose graduated from Missouri School of Journalism in 1993.
Rena Effendi is an award-winning documentary photographer from Azerbaijan, whose early work focused on the oil industry’s effects on people’s lives in her region. As a result, she followed a 1,700 km oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, collecting stories along the way. This work of six years was published in 2009 in her first book “Pipe Dreams: A Chronicle of Lives along the Pipeline”. In 2012 Effendi published her second monograph “Liquid Land”, a lyrical visual narrative, where her images are paired with photographs of perished butterflies hunted by her father, a Soviet entomologist, who collected more than 30,000 butterflies in Soviet Union.
Rena Effendi is the laureate of the Prince Claus Fund award for Culture and Development. In the words of the Prince Claus Fund Award committee, two qualities pervade Rena Effendi’s photography: a deep sense of empathy, and a quiet celebration of the strength of the human spirit.
Effendi won many other photography awards including the Overseas Press Club of America awards in 2020, SONY World Photography award, Getty Images Editorial grant and the Alexia Foundation grant. In 2012 and again in 2019, Effendi was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet award in photography and sustainability. In 2014 Effendi won two awards in the World Press Photo “Observed Portraits” categories. She has also been on the jury of the World Press Photo and the SONY World Photography Awards.
Effendi’s work has been exhibited worldwide including at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Saatchi Gallery, İstanbul Modern, the Venice Biennial, NYC MOMA and other venues. Effendi’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the Istanbul Modern, the Open Society Foundation and the Prince Claus Fund.
Effendi is a frequent contributor to the National Geographic Magazine. She has worked on editorial commissions for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times magazine, Vogue, Marie Claire, The New Yorker, GEO, The Daily Telegraph, Newsweek, TIME, The Sunday Times, New York Magazine and many others.
Abir Abdullah is currently the photo editor of the largest Bangla newspaper Prothom Alo in Dhaka, Bangladesh. An independent photographer and tutor, Abir was born 1971 in Bagerhat in southern Bangladesh. He holds a Masters in Marketing (M. Com) from Dhaka University. Making a significant career change to become a photographer, he studied at the Bangladesh Photographic Institute in 1993 and then at Pathshala Media Institute, gaining a diploma in photojournalism in 1999. Following this the World Press Photo Foundation – Netherlands supported him on a three-year seminar (Pleasure of Life).
He worked as a staff photographer at European Pressphoto Agency (2005-2017), Drik PLC (1996 to 2005); was a Founding partner of DrikNews (2006); Principal of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute (2018-2020) and was a Jury Member of the World Press Photo in 2011. Abir’s numerous awards includes the Mother Jones Award 2001 for his work on Freedom Fighters (Veterans of the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971) and the 1st Prize National Disaster category NPPA best of photojournalism award 2008. His work continues to gain recognition and he was the Alexia Foundation Professional grants winner 2013 and the recipient of the Leica Reportage prize in the Vevey International Photography Awards in Switzerland 2013.
Abir’s work has been published in New York Times, New Yorker, Time, Guardian, The Telegraph, Stern, Der Spiegel, the New Internationalist Magazine and many other international publications. He was one of the photographers featured in the book BLINK, published by Phaidon, featuring 100 photographers worldwide and in the book titled New Stories commissioned and published by World Press Photo.
Wonsuk Choi is a photojournalist and photo editor at The Korea Times, nation’s first English newspaper founded in 1950 during the Korean War. Before joining the newspaper, Choi also worked as a photojournalist with AFP and St. Joseph News-Press in Missouri.
Choi spent 10 years in the United States, graduating with a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Arts in Photography from Ohio University. For his master’s project, Choi examined the effects on lives of people affected by the building of the Nelsonville bypass in Southwest Ohio.
Over the past 8 years, Choi covered various news events as presidential election, 2019 North Korea-United States Hanoi Summit.
Between July and September 2019, Choi was in Hong Kong four times to document the democracy protests, capturing some of the most dangerous moments as protesters clashed with police.
But above all, Choi believes in local journalism and finds a lot of joy telling life stories of ordinary citizens in small neighbourhoods.
Nariman Ayman El-Mofty is a Cairo-based photojournalist for The Associated Press. She joined the AP in 2011 and has since covered top stories and special projects across the Middle East. El-Mofty is part of the AP team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2019 for international reporting based on its compelling coverage of the grinding conflict in Yemen and the ensuing humanitarian crisis, including a series of deep investigative stories, photos, and videos chronicling atrocities spawned by the war. The AP’s investigative reporting on the war in Yemen in 2018 was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the team also won the 2019 Michael Kelly award. El-Mofty also won the Overseas Press Club’s Olivier Rebbot Award for her coverage of the Yemen war and was a 2017 Magnum Foundation fellow.
Statement of Judging Ethics
Pictures of the Year Asia selects judges who maintain the highest journalistic and ethical standards. We have confidence that these same values will apply as jurors for POY Asia. We recognize that our profession is a close network and that the judges are also working journalists. So, we carefully research and consider any potential conflicts and then counsel all the members about their obligations to be fair and impartial. Any judge with entries in a category are asked to recuse themselves. The entire two weeks of judging is an open forum for anyone to quietly observe the process. POY Asia conducts the annual competition with complete transparency and integrity.
The judges will meet virtually, and each will make a pre-selection on his or her own. These final projects and images will be selected by the judges which will be broadcast live.
Please join us for live discussions through @poyasia Facebook page as we review the entries.
The judges are nominated by Prashant Panjiar, Maye-E Wong, Tanya Habjouqa, Lynden Steele and Kay-Chin Tay, all Founding Advisors of POY ASIA.