Bristol, England-based photographer Fergus Coyle has been crowned the overall winner of the Betser Prize – an international photography competition celebrating Chinese culture. His photo of Hankou Bund, a popular park that sits on the banks of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, China, was taken in 2017 – just 24 months before the city became forever linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coyle’s image, which shows people posing for photos, joining in group exercise and taking a walk in the green-less park, also won the environment category at the Global SinoPhoto Awards (GSPA). The first place prize consists of a cash prize of approximately $2,000 / £1,650 / AU$2,950 plus a catalog of 'The Family of Man' exhibition presented by Paul Lesche, the director of Centre National de l’Audio/Visuel (CNA) in Luxembourg, where the GSPA was held.
• These are the best professional cameras boasting lightning-fast autofocus, speedy continuous shooting and high-megapixel sensors
The GSPA is split into four categories: Environment, Portraiture, Food, and Series. Taking home the first prize for the Portrait category was Chinese photographer Xueya Wang for her self-portrait series, 'I, Myself and Me, Quzhou, Zhejiang 2020-2022'. Taken during the lockdown, Wang faces away from the camera, hiding her expression, only revealing her surroundings to the viewer.
In the Food category, fellow Chinese photographer Peihong Hu impressed the judges with his rural submission. Hu's photo Reunion captures three generations of a family gathering outside to make dumplings, in a village in Xingxian County, Shanxi Province surrounded by sheep and hanging washing.
The top prize for the Series category was awarded to Dutch artist and photographer, Sarah Mei Herman, for her body of work titled 'Solace'. It explores same-sex relationships that, up until 1997, were illegal in China – but recent news suggests that the government is once again trying to clamp down on LGBTQ+ media and events.
"I have been incredibly impressed with the quality of this year's submissions as well as the truly international response from photographers across the world," said Gemma Barnett, the GSPA's art director.
"The new Series category offered photographers the chance to express deeper narratives and some very brave and personal Chinese stories were explored; from the loneliness experienced during Covid lockdowns to the reality of those living in Chinese LGBTQ+ communities."
To view the full gallery of winning and highly commended images, head to the Global SinoPhoto Awards website.