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Astounding Lightness of Being
Channaly Oum

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Photography literally means drawings of light from the Greek phos ("light") and graphis ("paintbrush"). The 2006 International Photography Awards, also known as the Lucie Awards, named after the little statues given out and more specifically derived from the Latin lux ("light"), were bestowed on some of the world's best photographers late last month at the 4th annual IPA gala ceremony in New York.

The IPA honors the achievements of the world's finest photographers and, in the process, discovers emerging talent and helps the rest of us appreciate fascinating photography. The winning and finalist photographs reflect an astounding variety of vision and technique.

Categories included advertising, fashion, photojournalism, and fine art, and the images exhibit a breadth of environments. Photos captured some of the world's most beautiful places and some of the most forlorn, such as Sudan. Their settings ran the gamut from studio-controlled environments to outdoors capturing storms and tornadoes. Intrepid photographers saw art above and below from aerials of Napa Valley or the flying Dutch military planes, to unbelievably colorful underwater shots. They saw incredible beauty in vegetables on flatbed scanners and floating icebergs.

The photographs reflect both the fanciful and humorous. Lucy Liu's surreal crackers in a wheat field have us wondering what that farmer was really growing while the black and white photo of the Mexican child looking straight at us might just be an angel taking a rest from her duties. MacDuff Emerson's Chinese gate surrounded by mists and willows in a golden light carries a mystical quality that is not long-forgotten.

An example of the imaginative and humorous is the 2006 Lancia calendar, "1906-2006: Once Upon a Time...," which celebrates the centenary of the famed Italian carmaker. Fulvio Bonavia weaves fairy tales in with shots of historical Lancia models. In one image, a red Aurelia Spider sits prettily in the background while a wolf with gleaming eyes mischievously waits in the foreground. In another, a victorious Delta Rally, like the Frog Prince, waits to receive the kiss of victory.

Photographers have also captured images witnessing world events and photojournalists especially have long understood that change is a constant. Marc Riboud (Achievement in Photojournalism), who joined the Magnum agency in 1953, has seen many world changes in his lifetime covering events. Since 1955, he has witnessed history's highs and lows, including photographic perspectives of both sides of the Vietnam War.

Riboud said the pace of change in both the West and especially in the East was tremendous. As someone who considers each visit to a place like a visit to a friend, he goes back again to see what changes have occurred, to see "how they are." Yet, "suddenly things are changing so fast, especially in the Far East, that people are losing a sense of roots and their personality," he says. Instead, they have become very similar and, at the same time, marked by the fervor of economic pursuit.

Over the years, technology has also come a long way in capturing images. Neil Leifer (Achievement in Sports), best known for his career-making shots of Muhammad Ali, started out during the golden era of the magazine. "Now the biggest change in sports photography is how really well television covers the event. It's harder and harder to take a photograph that surprises people." He believes though, that stills have the capacity to remain etched in people's minds long after video images fade away. "That's a reason why we'll always have still photographers."

Other awards honored Willy Ronis (Lifetime Achievement), David Bailey (Achievement in Fashion), Eikoh Hosoe (Visionary Award), Roger Mayne (Achievement in Documentary), Duane Michals (Achievement in Portraiture), Sarah Moon (Achievement in Fine Art), and Albert Watson (Achievement in Advertising). In addition, 15 photographers, in professional and non-professional categories, took home awards in seven different areas.

The 2007 IPA competition is now open. The winning 2006 photographs, as well as past winners, can be viewed at

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