ICP Infinity Awards

Sir Don McCullin never intended to become a photographer. He found it hard to believe he’d ever escape the poverty of North London. But a spur of the moment photograph launched McCullin into a career spanning 50 years in photography.

As his career progressed, McCullin found himself in increasingly dire situations; The civil war in Cyprus, the war in Vietnam, and the Lebanese civil war to name a few. And while his photographs graced the pages of thousands of publications and earned him notoriety, McCullin became increasingly disenchanted with conflict photography. It just didn’t seem to matter.

Today those conflicts and wars are part of a past he’s trying to understand and to some extent, forget, and he’s doing so by searching the english countryside outside his home for answers.

Origin stories are important. They give us a sense of identity, purpose, and history. They help us understand who we are. But origin stories are notoriously incomplete; favoring certain historical details over others. The United States has such a story; a story written by men who celebrated universal rights while subjecting, demeaning and enslaving whole nations and communities of people. That horrific contradiction and its implications have rippled throughout American history.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a domestic correspondent for The New York Times, has been thinking about that contradiction since high school when she learned of the date 1619; the first recorded date of forcibly enslaved peoples arriving in the colony of Virginia. Hannah-Jones wondered what it meant to be a country that was actually based on slavery? What would it mean for us if we considered 1619 our true origin and not 1776?

And that was the conceit of The 1619 Project; a massive effort by The New York Times Magazine, which was spearheaded and conceived of by Hannah-Jones to detail the history of slavery, it’s lasting effects within our culture, and to celebrate the often-suppressed role of formerly enslaved peoples in making American democracy manifest.

Hannah Reyes Morales learned about care and resilience growing up in a crowded home in Manila. With the mainstream media focused on violence in the Philippines, Morales uses those lessons to find tenderness and compassion in her photography. “Photography is a way of listening, not just with your ears, but with your eyes, with your heart, with your entire being,” she says about her approach to photojournalism. Through her work, Morales has empowered vulnerable populations, including sex workers, victims of drug violence and those on the front lines of climate change.

For Nadine Ijewere, the creative process involves using imperfection and subjects not considered stereotypically pretty and exposing a beauty that demands our attention. In her work, a fashion image isn’t just a still image, it can tell a story, pushing you to question the simplistic ideals of beauty to recognize the value in people of color. Her creative vision is to take different types of people and different types of beauty and be able to photograph them with grace and style.

“Tallawah” an exhibition by photographer Nadine Ijewere and hairstylist Jawara Wauchope honors the value of black hair. Nadine and Ijewere capture the intrinsic role black hair plays in the community. Nadine became the first woman of color to shoot the cover of any Vogue in the magazine’s 125-year global history, a groundbreaking achievement. Her cover with Anglo-Albanian singer Dua Lipa for the British Vogue January cover signifies the moment, “The Future Issue”. With film works as diverse as her Red Valentino and Stella McCartney campaigns, Nadine explores ways to break new ground with various fashion brands and moving images.

Through her editorial work and personal projects, Nadine wants the viewers to see themselves in these images. She has no desire to produce glossy work that fails to speak to her creative instincts. “I feel like in doing this I’m proving to younger girls from a similar background that it’s achievable. As a girl, I never identified with anyone in the pages of magazines. Now, we’re sending a message that everyone is welcome in fashion”, mentions Nadine.

Past ICP Infinity Award films produced by MediaStorm

Since 1985, the International Center of Photography has recognized outstanding achievements in photography with its prestigious Infinity Awards. The awards ceremony is also ICP’s primary fundraising benefit, with its revenues assisting the center’s various programs.

Since 2013, Harbers Studios has commissioned MediaStorm, on behalf of ICP, to create a short films about each of the recipients to screen at the awards ceremony and to display online. The films pay tribute to the contributions of each artist to the craft and field of photography and demonstrate ICP’s commitment to them.