Leica Women Foto Award winners announced: Matika Wilbur, Karen Zusman and Anna Boyiazis each focus on critical human stories


posted Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 1:00 PM EDT


To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, Leica announced the winners of its second-annual Leica Women Foto Project Award. The recipients, Matika Wilbur, Karen Zusman, and Anna Boyiazis, had their projects selected by a diverse panel of photography experts.

Each of Wilbur, Zusman and Boyiazis will receive $10,000 to use towards the completion of their respective projects in addition to a Leica Q2 camera (valued at $4,995). Each woman will also receive mentorship and professional development opportunities through Leica. You can view selected work from each woman below.

Matika Wilbur focused on Native Peoples in the United States. Her project, 'Project 562,' reflects her commitment to visiting, engaging and photographing all 562-plus Native American sovereign territories in the United States. In 2012, Wilbur sold everything in her Seattle apartment and set off on her journey. She has traveled with her RV, by horseback, trains, planes, boats and on foot in all 50 states. From the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples, Wilbur started in commercial photography before she decided to instead use her photographic skills as a tool for social justice. To view her work, visit Wilbur's website and follow Project 562 on Instagram.

Photo of Hannah Tomeo (Colville, Yakima, Nez Perce, Sioux and Samoan Nations), Northwest Indian Youth Princess by Matika Wilbur. Tomeo has dealt with racism when pursuing her passion of running. Tomeo became her school's best runner and says that her story isn't over.
Photo of Ethan Petticrew, Unangax, by Matika Wilbur. In Petticrew's community, youth suicide is an epidemic. He has committed himself to working with teenagers and young people as part of his dance group. He hopes it will provide young members of his community with a support system and the tools they need to be successful. 

Karen Zusman celebrates the lives of young immigrants in her project, 'The Super Power of Me: Celebrating Young Black, Brown and Immigrant Lives.' Zusman writes, '[The project] celebrates young lives of color and immigrants with a portrait series that shows who they are before the world tells them otherwise. It consists of an outdoor exhibit and creativity workshops that help express, protect and share with the world their vision of who they are.' Zusman has previously received a Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting for her work documenting the humanitarian crisis in Burma. She has also spent time documenting issues in Cuba before turning her attention to the pandemic in New York City and ongoing BLM protests. To view more of Zusman's work, visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

'Photo by Karen Zusman. Elena, age 9, lives in Harlem with her mother and grandmother.'
'Photo by Karen Zusman. Bubba and his nephew, William. Ages 9 and 3. Bubba lives in Brownsville with his mother, sister and 3 year old brother, Legacy.'

Anna Boyiazis's project, 'Finding Freedom in the Water,' is an in-depth visual narrative of women and girls in Zanzibar learning to swim. While this is an opportunity many of us may take for granted, it is a significant step forward for women in Zanzibar and Boyiazis's project highlights the context of her subject's daily lives. Boyiazis is an American documentary photographer and her work has been featured in many publications. To see more of her work, visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

'Photo by Anna Boyiazis. Kijini Primary School students learn to float, swim, and perform rescues on October 25, 2016 in the Indian Ocean off of Muyuni, Zanzibar. From the long-term project, Finding Freedom in the Water.'
'Photo by Anna Boyiazis. A young woman learns to float on November 24, 2016 in the Indian Ocean off of Nungwi, Zanzibar. From the long-term project, Finding Freedom in the Water.'

The Leica Women Foto Project Award is a significant part of the Leica Women Foto Project itself. The goal of the project is to empower the female point of view through photography and ensure diversity in storytelling. Leica writes, 'The mission of the Leica Women Foto Project is to encourage and empower photographers to demonstrate the importance and impact of a female's point of view. The award serves as a catalyst to re-frame how we see, how we think, and how we express our visual narrative.'

While strides have been made, there remains a lot of work to do, which is why projects such as the Leica Women Foto Project Award exist. Per Women Photograph, A1 lead photo bylines in 2020 continued to be dominated by men. It's critically important for there to be more diversity in photography.

To view more images by Wilbur, Boyiazis and Zusman, visit Leica Women Foto Project.