Photojournalist Showkat Shafi wins prize for powerful curation showcasing portraits of 100 Rohingya refugees.
Al Jazeera English Online producer and photojournalist Showkat Shafi won a prestigious award for his photography at the Drum Online Media Awards in London on Tuesday.
The award, in the Best Use of Photography category, went to Showkat 100 faces of the Rohingya, a powerful curation highlighting the portraits of 100 Rohingya refugees, aged three to 95, who were among some 730,000 Rohingyas forced to flee to neighboring Bangladesh by the Myanmar army.
As the exodus increased and tens of thousands of makeshift tents were hastily erected, Showkat traveled to Bangladesh to document the ongoing humanitarian crisis. He returned six months later to speak to the survivors and try to put a face to their story.
“As a photographer, I wanted to go beyond the numbers these people were reduced to,” Showkat said on the sidelines of the Drum gala dinner.
“I wanted my photos to help make them human again by revealing their pain, but also their hopes and dreams. “
Faced with stiff competition from other news organizations and high budget, multi-person projects, the judges at Drum chose 100 Faces of Rohingya as an example of “fantastic photojournalism, beautiful execution and excellent photo integration”.
This year, Al Jazeera Media Network had eleven nominations for Drum Online Media and competed with an array of professional peers from CNN, Channel Four, the BBC, VICE, Huff Post and others. Six online units were nominated, including the network’s VR unit, Contrast, AJLabs (interactive), AJ Shorts, its Twitter and News teams. This year also marked a first nomination for Al Jazeera Arabic Online, in the Comments and Blogs category.
Carlos van Meek, director of digital innovation and programming, said he is proud of his team’s performance and plans to win the award, proof that the digital space offers powerful alternatives to traditional journalism and the field report.
“These portraits reveal the terrible predicament facing displaced and persecuted minorities,” van Meek said.
“Showkat’s work lends itself to a gallery experience where viewers can click to see and understand the story in a very direct and personal way. Showkat’s victory is a victory for all of us.