“The Felix Schoeller Photo Award is a kaleidoscope of photography that spans the globe”: An interview with Jury Chairman Michael Dannenmann
Professional photographers are able to apply for the Felix Schoeller Photo Award 2023 until January 15, 2023. This is the sixth time that the Felix Schoeller Group is presenting the award, which focuses on peace and sustainability. The jury has been chaired for many years by Michael Dannenmann, who is one of the most important international representatives of contemporary portrait photography. In this interview, he talks about the role of photography in today’s world and why the Felix Schoeller Photo Award is a springboard for up-and-coming photographers.
Mr. Dannenmann, please tell us about the significance of the Felix Schoeller Photo Award for you personally in your role as chairman of the jury? And what status does the award hold in the world of professional photography?
The fact is that since its tenth anniversary, the Felix Schoeller Photo Award has established itself globally in the circle of professional photography and is constantly evolving. Not only for me personally, but also for our entire team, this award has become a kaleidoscope of global photography – always marked by changes in individual photographic approaches.
In addition to awards in the categories “Portrait”, “Photojournalism” and “Sustainability”, the best “Young Photographer” is also honored. How important is the promotion of young talent?
Young talent is particularly close to our hearts. It is the up-and-coming generation of young photographers who show us their honest and often unsparing view of their future. It is important to promote these young and new ways of seeing in photography. And so the Felix Schoeller Photo Award is a stepping stone into professional photography.
You are not only co-founder of the Felix Schoeller Photo Award, but also of the German Peace Prize for Photography. How significant is the Peace Award to you – especially in today’s world?
Peace is one of the greatest goods we have on this one planet. But until now, unfortunately, this peace has been very fragile: today in particular, we are in a political and social situation that until recently hardly anyone could have imagined. Therefore, it is important to provide a platform for non-violence and the appreciation of coexistence also in photography in order to promote social exchange on the topic of peace. The German Peace Prize for Photography therefore is a promoter of human freedom.
Images have the power to offer peace or to draw attention to important events in the world. What can photography achieve in today’s world?
It is the duty of photography, combined with all the other media such as art, theater, literature, etc., to draw attention to the existential issues of our society. Through their pictures, photographers tell stories that wake up, shake up or even soothe the viewers. In doing so, the artists invite us to engage with the subject matter depicted. And for this opportunity we are grateful to them.
How has the Felix Schoeller Photo Award evolved in recent years and what can we expect in the future?
The award has continued to evolve and will remain in a forward-looking process. For example, socially relevant topics influence which categories are selected, or even ensure that new categories are created. For example, the new category “Sustainability” has recently been announced as part of the 2023 Award, for which photos can now be submitted.
Are there any particular trends that you can identify in photography today? And how do you assess these trends?
In the ten years of the award, we have observed how global photography is changing. What is particularly striking is how the once so different photographic languages are gradually converging. This is a result of our media networking – the ways of seeing of individual countries, even continents, are increasingly merging into a uniform visual language.
In addition to a strong photojournalistic orientation, the tendency towards staged and artistic photography, which enriches the spectrum of submissions in a wonderful way, is particularly noteworthy. Also on behalf of the entire jury, I cordially invite all professional photographers to submit their images now for the Felix Schoeller Photo Award 2023, the German Peace Prize for Photography or the Young Photographers Award.
About Michael Dannenmann:
Photographer Michael Dannenmann is co-founder of the German Peace Prize for Photography and the Felix Schoeller Photo Award. After studying painting at the Stuttgart Art Academy and photography at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts, he began conceptual photography in his portrait work. Today, he continues to work predominantly with people, often from the fields of art, music, dance, etc., whom he portrays in their personal surroundings or in the studio.
Themes such as transformation and role reversal repeatedly play an important role in his work. In addition to his jury management, Dannenmann travels worldwide to stage people for his highly acclaimed portrait work. His work has been featured in international magazines, book projects, and numerous exhibitions and collections, among others. Outside of his photographic work, Michael Dannenmann conducts workshops and curates exhibitions.
He is a member of the DGPh.
About Felix Schoeller Photo Award:
For the sixth time since 2013, the Felix Schoeller Group is inviting all professional photographers worldwide to apply in three categories for the Felix Schoeller Photo Award 2023, the prize for the best work by young talent and the German Peace Prize for Photography. For the Felix Schoeller Photo Award 2023, professional photographers are invited to apply in the three categories “Portrait”, “Photojournalism” and “Sustainability”. A total of 30,000 euros in prize money will be awarded. The deadline for entries is January 15, 2023. All information, including uploads, is available at https://www.felix-schoeller-photoaward.com/.