Leica Oskar Barnack Award Granted to U.S. Photographer for Alumascapes Portfolio

Leica Oskar Barnack Award Granted to U.S. Photographer for Alumascapes Portfolio


Allendale, NJ—First prize in this year’s prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award photography competition goes to U.S. photographer Frank Hallam Day. For his award-winning portfolio, titled Alumascapes, he will receive a Leica M9-P camera and a lens worth approximately $12,500, as well as a cash prize of roughly $6,300. 


The second winner in the competition is Piotr Zbierski from Poland. His portfolio, Pass by Me, will be bestowed the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2012 and he will garner a Leica M9-P with lens. The prizes will be presented on July 3, 2012 at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie photographic festival in Arles, France. All portfolios entered for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2012 can be viewed at leica-oskar-barnack-award.com.


Following numerous projects that primarily focused on political issues, Frank Hallam Day’s work has increasingly turned toward exploring the relationships between man and the environment. To highlight this dynamic, he shoots predominantly at night to reveal a suggestive and ambiguous side of the world. The latest example of this is his winning portfolio, Alumascapes. The result of a monthlong journey through Florida, this project depicts the phenomenon of man and his environment in a unique manner and makes recreational vehicles (RVs)—ultra-modern, high-tech luxury homes on wheels—the brightly lit stars of his pictures. They seem to be inextricably entwined in the jungle landscapes of Florida at night and appear as essential islands of security in a dark and hostile environment. 


The word “Alumascapes” is an invention created by the photographer to describe landscapes dominated by vehicles constructed from aluminum. Simultaneously, the title is also the brand name of an RV model that is seen in several of his images. What the photographer reveals in these images is the brightly lit mobile homes cowering and hiding themselves between the trees. The mood is gloomy and grim and communicates a feeling of escape, furtiveness, isolation and fear. Although his images appear posed and artificial, they are not. The residents of the vehicles are never seen; they knew nothing of the presence of the photographer. This is because they sit safely and securely in the bright and air-conditioned security of their luxurious homes away from home, believing they are in perfect harmony with the natural world around them.


Frank Hallam Day’s work has been shown in numerous international exhibitions and is represented in many galleries and private collections. The winner of numerous prizes and scholarships, he lives in Washington, DC, and has worked as a lecturer for photography at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.


Pass by Me, the winning portfolio for the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2012, is the culmination of a project that Polish photographer Piotr Zbierski worked on for five years. In this project, titled White Elephant, the photographer explores the expression of emotions and the question of to what extent they can alter reality. His view of people in the role of an impartial observer, fleeting encounters with strangers—without prior knowledge of his subjects—enables him to see what is pure and essential: people and their entire world of emotions. In the words of Piotr Zbierski, “I chose photography because it lets me get very close to people. It is the only medium with a directness that lets me show the existence of the imagination in the real world.”


Zbierski concentrates on faces, gestures, the expression of feelings and relationships. His images depict scenes from the heart of life itself, captured at a variety of locations, including Eastern Europe and India. Although the portfolio appears to have a random structure, an underlying order exists; together the images build an entirety and relate a story of happiness, memories and encounters characterized by the photographer’s own style.


Piotr Zbierski, born in 1987, attended the Polish National Film School and graduated with a master’s degree. Selected images from his White Elephant projects have already been shown in various exhibitions in Poland, Russia and Portugal.


The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2012 recorded a new record of over 2,800 entries (last year, 2,000 entries were received). Professional photographers from 101 countries took part in the competition. leica-oskar-barnack-award.com