Turkish photographer F. Dilek Uyar’s piece, “In Epicenter of COVID-19,” was selected as the winner in the category of Discovery of the Year at the 2020 International Photography Awards (IPA) over the weekend. Uyar was officially announced as the Emerging Photographer of the Year at the California-based event.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected every sector all over the world. Uyar on noticing that the biggest challenge is faced by health professionals working day and night decided to spend time at a hospital to shoot. “I can’t change history, but I can show it,” she said.
Uyar spent 29 days in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital, where she became “invisible” to the people soon with the time spent shooting and observing. Her focus was to reflect the difficult battle of health care professionals and patients against COVID-19.
As a mother of two, it was a hard choice for her to spend time in the ICU, “the heart of the risk,” Uyar said, considering the danger for both herself and her family.
She says, she would never have forgiven herself if she had chosen to photograph something that is more pleasing to the eye.
Through her photographs, she intended to show how the ICUs were functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic. She aimed to shoot the usual moments in ICUs including the regular procedure from a patient’s arrival, dressing up, entering the treatment room, the moments of treatment and how doctors and nurses rested and slept.
“In general, we see that the events that focus on the moment in documentary photography are away from aesthetic anxiety. But unlike the general ones, I also wanted to show that aesthetic photographs can be taken in documentary photography, albeit with difficulty,” she said.
On her success at the contest, Uyar wrote on social media: “This has been the surprise of my lifetime. I can’t believe it.”
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