Surreal beaches and touching portraits: Leica reveals Oskar Barnack Awards

Ismail Ferdous LOBA 2023 Winner
(Image credit: Ismail Ferdous)

Leica has announced the recipients of this year's Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA). Ismail Ferdous and Ziyi Le have been chosen as the two winners of the renowned international photography competition, now in its 43rd edition.

In the main category, US-based Bangladeshi photographer, Ismail Ferdous, won over the five-member jury to become the overall winner with his Sea Beach series. His project was submitted by Dimitri Beck and James Wellford, who were among this year’s 60 international LOBA nominators.

(Image credit: Ismail Ferdous)

(Image credit: Ismail Ferdous)

In the Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer category (for newcomer photographers up to 30 years old), the honor went to Chinese photographer Ziyi Le, with his New Comer series. His work was submitted by the Fudan University School of Journalism in Shanghai.

The Chinese photographer began his project via Weibo, a Twitter-like portal for short messages in China, where he found people interested in his sensitive portrait series. He sees the staged photo shoots as a way to reflect on his own self-doubt, feelings of alienation, and the mental void.

The outcome is a touching portrait of the “New Comer,” a generation looking for personal development and in search of its place in society.

(Image credit: Ziyi Le)

"Throughout my whole time growing up, I had little communication and was alienated for a long time, thereby giving rise to a sense of being in the middle of nowhere," said Le. "Out of a basic instinct as a photographer, I decided to explore the similar void in the state of mind of young people like me, scattered in different cities, to see their faces as well as explore my deep self-doubt.”

Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, art director and chief representative of Leica Galleries International, commended the winners. 

“On behalf of the full LOBA 2023 jury, I would like to sincerely congratulate this year’s winners of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. Together, and with mutual appreciation, the jury completed the demanding task of selecting the finalists and winners. The outcome reveals a LOBA edition with particular strength, diversity, and touching series."

(Image credit: Ziyi Le)

The LOBA is one of the most prestigious and highly regarded awards in the field of photography. The winner receives €40,000 (approximately $42,000 / £34,600 / AU$66,700) and Leica camera equipment valued at €10,000 ($10,500 / £8,600 / AU$16,700), with the winner of the Newcomer Award receiving €10,000 euros and a Leica Q3 camera. 

Both winners were honored during an award ceremony and as part of an exhibition of all 12 shortlisted series, within the framework of a festival of photography in Wetzlar. Following the exhibition at the Ernst Leitz Museum in Wetzlar, LOBA 2023 will go on tour to further Leica Galleries and photo festivals around the world. To view all the winning and shortlisted series, visit the Leica Oskar Barnack Award website.

If this has been interesting we would recommend checking out our guides to the best Leica cameras, and Best Leica-M lenses while also paying attention to reviews of the Leica M11, Leica M11 Monochrom, and the brand new Leica Q3.

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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 

He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.