We are ready to reveal the big winners for the first ever SAFN Anthropology Day Photo contest.
Before I make the big announcement, I want to point out the criteria we used to evaluate the submissions. These were:
- the ethnographic nature of the pictures, overall.
- the contribution of the photo(s) as insight into foodways.
- the extent to which the photos help us see the work and lives of people in food.
- the overall composition, originality, etc.
We assembled a committee of SAFN members whose collective wisdom and experience using and viewing photos would enable us to overcome the inherent subjectivity of these criteria. I am deeply grateful to the committee members, who not only viewed the pictures but, in many cases, submitted excellent aesthetic and anthropological evaluations of them. The reviewing committee was made up of Jennifer Jo Thompson, Scott Alves Barton, Ryan Adams, Jesse Dart, Wendy Yared, and me.
Consensus was elusive. The winners all received the most votes, but there were photos favored by at least one of our judges among nearly all the submissions. This reflects, I think, the quality of the photos. It is also why we have so many winners.
The overall winner of the 2021 SAFN Anthropology Day Photo Contest is Carol Hayman, whose pictures, taken in 2017 and 2018, show us various markets in Guatemala. Committee members remarked on the beauty of the colors and compositions, the interaction of people with each other and with food. The first one below was called “a classic” by one judge. All evoke the movement and life of markets.
Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam came in second, with pictures from fieldwork in Cambodia. They wrote that the pictures are part of a series “entitled ‘A montage of the meshings of medicines and mealtimes in Siem Reap, Cambodia’ which include portraits and scenes of traditional Khmer-food medicines and their sellers that I took during my PhD fieldwork from February 2020 to July 2020 as a research fellow for the Center for Khmer Studies.” We have included a selection here. Some judges were particularly enthusiastic about the “triptych of traditional medicinal wines for maternity and men’s vitality,” which just calls out for deeper explanation.
Amanda Hilton’s photos from Sicily attracted quite a lot of praise, putting her in third place. She submitted 4 photos, not as a series, but as individual pictures. Nevertheless, they each have enough distinctive merit to be included here. Her saffron photo (see below) was a favorite as a composition.
Finally, there were at least three photos that attracted enough praise to merit runner-up status. Suman Chakrabarty submitted a series of pictures related to a research project on food security “among the Rabha tribal community living in the northern part of West Bengal state in India under forest fringe conditions.” We have included one of those here, which was praised for composition, color, and ethnographic content. Keiko Kanno sent photos from fieldwork in Mongolia, including the photo below of an intriguing rack of sweets in a store in Ulaanbaatar. Finally, David Sutton provided us with a picture from his work in Greece, with someone handling a knife in a way that seems inadvisable, but that captures something very distinctive about food culture.
I am very grateful to all of the participants in this year’s competition. I would encourage the winners and, frankly, even those we have not mentioned here, to consider writing for the blog, perhaps in a way that further explains what is in your pictures. Let’s do this again next year! Celebrate anthropology!