ZEISS Photography Award 2020

Seeing Beyond – Discoveries

The Winner has been chosen!

KyeongJun Yang from South Korea is the winner of the 2020 ZEISS Photography Award. The competition was launched for the fifth time together with the World Photography Organisation, this year with the theme “Seeing Beyond – Discoveries”. With his photo series Metamorphosis, Yang casts a spotlight on the experiences of immigrants in the United States. Yang shot a series of black and white portraits and still lifes, all of which center around Julie Chen. The young woman moved from China to the United States after her parents separated when she was twelve, and has lived there ever since. Each photo in the series is paired with a quote or passage from Julie Chen describing her experiences as an immigrant, her sense of loneliness and divided identity. To Yang, who is currently studying journalism in his senior year at the The University of Texas at Austin, Chen’s experiences reflect his own feelings of isolation and foreignness – a feeling that that both of them share with many others in similar situations.

2020 Brief

Seeing Beyond – Discoveries

Photographers from over 150 countries submitted nearly 50,000 images for this year’s contest under the theme “Seeing Beyond –Discoveries”. The topic should have been interpreted in the broadest sense, as making new discoveries is human nature. This could be a personal revelation, a scientific and technical breakthrough, or an idea leading to social transformation. What mattered was that the story tells a strong, distinctive story. All genres of photography were welcome.

Nine more bodies of work were put onto the competition’s shortlist.


Rewarding the world’s leading image-makers

Winner of the ZEISS Photography Award receives:

  • A range of ZEISS camera lenses of their choice worth a total of €12,000 
  • €3,000 to cover travel costs for a photo project
  • Flights and accommodation to attend the Sony World Photography Awards night and the exhibition opening in London in April 2020
  • ZEISS will also invite the winner to their headquarters in Germany to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory and the chance to test out a variety of ZEISS lenses
  • The winner will also have the chance to collaborate directly with ZEISS and the World Photography Organisation for future projects

A selection of shortlisted series will also be on show at London’s Somerset House during the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition. Dates of exhibition to be announced early 2020.



Leading voices in the photography industry

The photo projects submitted to the 2020 ZEISS Photography Award are judged by a renowned panel composed of three international experts from the photography industry. Judges will be evaluating submissions on their technical expertise, visual storytelling and creativity. It is important each series entered sticks to the 2020 brief: Seeing Beyond – Discoveries.

Louise Fedotov Clements

Director, FORMAT International Photography Festival & Artistic Director, QUAD

Louise is the Artistic Director of QUAD, a centre for contemporary art, film and new technologies in Derby UK, and the Director of FORMAT International Photography Festival, which she founded in 2004.

An independent curator since 1998, she has initiated many commissions, publications, mass participation and exhibitions. A Guest Curator for numerous international exhibitions and festivals, including Dong Gang Photography Festival South Korea; Photoquai Biennale; Les Rencontres Arles, Discoveries; Venice Biennale; Photo Beijing; Lishui China. She has contributed to many publications as producer/writer and is on the Editorial Team of RVM Magazine Italy.

She is a regular juror, portfolio reviewer, speaker and award advisor throughout Europe, America & Asia.

Max Ferguson

Freelance Photo Editor

Max is the Photo Director of Port Magazine, the Editor of Splash & Grab Magazine and a regular photo editor at the FT Weekend Magazine.

He is a lecturer in photography at the London College of Communication and he also writes about photography and curates exhibitions.

Simon Lovermann

Founder & Artistic Director, Der Greif

Simon Lovermann is an artist, musician and cultural entrepreneur. He is the founder and artistic director of the internationally renowned organisation for contemporary photography Der Greif. Der Greif collaborates with and publishes the works of artists, curators and writers, including Broomberg & Chanarin, Alessia Glaviano and Carrie Mae Weems. The organization organizes events and exhibitions with renowned institutions such as the Aperture Foundation, Unseen and Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Simon is also co-founder and CSO at Picter, a software company providing tools for the creative industries. Picter contests is the industry standard for the world’s most renowned image-based contests. Picter Workspace is the images-first team collaboration tool built for the creative industries.

Key dates

All you need to know

  • 15 October 2019, 11am CET: Competition open for submission
  • 4 February 2020, 2pm CET: Competition closed for submissions
  • 31 March 2020: Shortlist published and Winner announced

"I'm incredibly grateful for the ZEISS Photography Award because it provided me an opportunity to share the stories of my subjects with a global audience. Thanks to the award, my project was picked up by international outlets, and it really allowed me to share the photos with the world. I couldn't ask for anything more, particularly because my project features people who are often overlooked."

Rory Doyle, winner of the 2019 ZEISS Photography Award
Rory Doyle, United States, 2019 ZEISS Photography Award © Rory Doyle, United States, 2019 ZEISS Photography Award

"After winning the ZEISS Photography Award, I got a lot of requests from international magazines, also the big magazines. There was a lot of international attention, all of a sudden. This award really stimulates you to do what you do, to continue working."

Nick Hannes, Winner ZEISS Photography Award 2018
Nick Hannes, Belgium, 2018 ZEISS Photography Award © Nick Hannes, Belgium, 2018 ZEISS Photography Award

"Due to photo editors having seen my work through the news of winning the ZEISS Photography Award, my personal documentary work has since gone on to be printed in magazines and newspaper around the world. Winning the award helped secure more clients but, more importantly, my self-confidence as a photographer has certainly grown since the win."

Kevin Faingnaert, Winner ZEISS Photography Award 2017
Kevin Faingnaert, Belgium, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award © Kevin Faingnaert, Belgium, 2017 ZEISS Photography Award

"The ZEISS Photography Award was a great opportunity for me because it opened up windows to exposure of my own work where I alone would have never gotten by myself."

Tamina-Florentine Zuch, Winner ZEISS Photography Award 2016
Tamina-Florentine Zuch, Germany, 2016 ZEISS Photography Award © Tamina-Florentine Zuch, Germany, 2016 ZEISS Photography Award