Maggie Shannon wins the „Peace Image of the Year“ at the Global Peace Photo Award 2021.

The American photographer won with an image from her reportage „Extreme pain, but also extreme joy“ about home births in the USA during the pandemic.

Vienna, 21 September 2021 – this evening, the winners of the international Global Peace Photo Awardcompetition were awarded the Alfred Fried Peace Medal at the Austrian Parliament for the ninth time:

Nate Hofer for „One and a half acres“
Shabana Zahir for „Our journey“
Derrick Ofusu Boateng for „Peace and Strength“
Snezhana von Büdingen for „Meeting Sofie“
Maggie Shannon for „Extreme pain, but also extreme joy“

The main Peace Image of the Year 2021 prize of 10,000 euros went to American photographer Maggie Shannon for her reportage on home births in Los Angeles during the first lockdown in spring 2020.

The hospitals are flooded with covid patients. In the maternity wards spouses are not allowed. Many women want to give birth at home. Without mask, with the fathers. They are afraid of the hospitals. They are in panic. The midwifes receive emergency calls. In this situation Margaret Shannon decides to accompany four of these midwives. She is impressed with the calm and decisiveness of these women. With their experience. And she is elated by those moments when all the pain has been overcome and the private happiness simply drowns out all the knowledge of the global pandemic. Bodily contact in times of a contact ban! New life in times of the big death. Holding close. Embracing. Helping. A father kissing his new-born, almost as if lost in prayer. It is a picture of a deep peace in a time of thousands of unpeaceful events. And in addition like a small pointer to Black Lives Matter, in a country that in 2020 was still governed by a president specializing in unpeace, in tantrums, gloating, contempt and slander. 

The best peace image in the children’s and youth category, Children’s Peace Image of the Year 2021, worth 1000 euros, was won by 7-year-old Aadhyaa Aravind Shankar.

 This picture shows her mother resting in the lap of her reading mother. Both women are framed by plants that provide freshness. From outside a cooling breeze comes in. Whether still a child or long grown up, Aadhyaa is convinced: Everyone finds peace in such moments. Finds safety and relaxation. Has an opportunity to forget all hardship.

The prize was presented by Gerhard Lahner, Member of the Managing Board and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Vienna Insurance Group (VIG), which supports this award:

„Vienna Insurance Group’s understanding of thinking in and for generations, and thus assuming responsibility, has always determined the core business of our insurance group. Assuming social and cultural responsibility is particularly close to our hearts.“

In his welcome address, Peter Raggl, President of the Austrian Federal Council, the extraordinary cooperation with the Global Peace Photo Award and how important it is to provide a forum for peace in these times.

Lois Lammerhuber, who initiated the Global Peace Photo Award together with his wife 

Silvia Lammerhuber and has organised it since the beginning, reminded us that „peace is not the absence of war, but something I would like to call a successful life. Every year, the submitted photos and stories touch us anew with their creativity and passion for what is good and peaceful in this world.“

At the invitation of Barbara Trionfi, Director of the International Press Institute (IPI), 

Galina Timchenko, founder and director of the Latvian online platform „Meduza“, gave a blazing speech for freedom of expression: “This campaign against freedom of speech, against truth and European values is not just about Russia, it’s a direct threat to all Europe. And the only defence we, civil society, could build, the only shield we have, made from paper or monitors with text or photos on it. Free, objective, trusted information gives us hope to protect all we believe in.

Claudia Dannhauser, Head of the Austrian Parliamentary Reporting Association, ORF Zeit im Bild, reflected in her speech on the importance of peace and that the Global Peace Photo Award makes a wonderful contribution to this: „Peace is a word that triggers different associations and sensations in each of us. To find the one image that symbolises peace? It is not an easy task. The Global Peace Photo Award has been doing it for years. It is an invaluable contribution to sharpen the view, to raise the importance of peace for all of us – in times when war is commonplace, those affected do not always get quick help and cynicism often wins out over idealism.“

This year’s chairman of the 25-member jury Eric Falt, Director UNESCO New Delhi, India, emphasised in his closing keynote speech on the one hand the high quality of the submitted photos and on the other hand the importance of gender equality: “There were so many extraordinary images expressing Peace in our 2021 photo contest. For the Image of the Year, our jury eventually selected the moving photographs of Maggie Shannon, who chronicled the work of midwives in Los Angeles during the COVID 19 crisis, unsung heroes of the pandemic assisting women to bring newborns into our crazy but beautiful world. In fact, three of our winners this year were women photographers showcasing women, which reminded us that there will be no true peace anywhere until and unless we have equality for women and men everywhere.”

16.396 images from 114 countries were submitted to the Global Peace Photo Award 2021. Most of the entries came from India, Russia, USA, Germany and Iran. The entries were judged by a prestigious international jury consisting of photographers, journalists and representatives of photo associations.

The reasons given by the jury members from eight nations for the total of six awards were formulated by the long-standing GEO editor-in-chief Peter-Matthias Gaede from Hamburg.

In addition to awarding the „Peace Image of the Year“ to Maggie Shannon, Alfred Fried Peace Medals 2021:

To American photographer Nate Hofer for his work „One and a half acres (6000 square metres)“. In drone footage, he shows his version of „swords to ploughshares“. A transformation of the military into the civilian: Peaceful they look, these rectangular patches in the landscape of the us Midwest. Farmland, car park for discarded cars, wild growth area, church forecourt, forest, harvest yard. Hidden underneath, however, was what could once have caused millions of deaths: 450 launching pads for nuclear-tipped intercontinental missiles aimed at the Soviet Union. The end of these destruction ramps came when US President George W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed on the so-called START treaty in 1991: an agreement to at least reduce their nuclear arsenal. After the dismantling of the missile silos, the land was sold back to farmers, sometimes for 600, sometimes for 12 000 US dollars.

To the Afghan photographer Shabana Zahir for her pictures „Our journey“ taken in her Greek refugee camp. In a very direct way, a young woman who is still completely unknown in the photography scene has translated her thoughts and feelings into pictures. Her surname translated from Farsi means: belonging to the night. Her flight began one night. The flight took months. Across borders, barbed wires, mountains. Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey. In Turkey, Shabana worked as a waitress in a small restaurant and learned the local language. Then she came to Greece in a boat. In the hope of reaching Western Europe, Germany, via the Balkan route. A vain hope so far. The Diavata refugee camp near Thessaloniki. Two years of agony. The feeling of wordlessness and uselessness. Until the small NGO „Una mano per un Sorriso“, „a hand for a smile“, brought Shabana to photography. To a new way of expressing herself. To speak in pictures.

To Derrick Ofusu Boateng from Ghana for his work „Peace and Strength“. He is someone who loves Africa and its cultures. One who disagrees with our entrenched image of Africa in the news and films. He is one who wants to celebrate with emphasis the strength of Africans. Their poetry. So he set out with his mobile phone camera, just plain simple, as he says. Of course he composes. Uses colour lavishly. Wants beauty. Wants a personal victory over the travails of the plain. He celebrates play. He photographs and paints at the same time. He celebrates pride. He celebrates lightness. For the jury of the Global Peace Photo Awards, Derrick Ofusu Boateng, who chose not to become a doctor or a lawyer, represents an entire generation of young African photographers who teach us not to get too comfortable in our traditional notions of Africa. And not to forget that beyond South Sudan and Boko Haram in Nigeria and corruption in Tanzania, there is still an Africa whose people dream of exactly what we dream of: the great freedom to be carefree and to live in harmony. 

To the Russian-born photographer Snezhana von Büdingen, who lives in Germany, for her work „Meeting Sofie„: Snezhana von Büdingen met her in autumn 2017, at the then 18-year-old girl’s home, a 16th-century estate in the village of Eilenstedt in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. A fairytale garden, a house full of antiques and old paintings. It’s like something from another time, says the photographer, dreamy, harmonious, full of peace. And in it, this special young woman. Self-confident, in harmony with herself, fond of beautiful clothes, in love with a young man, seized by lovesickness, secure in her family. From child to adult – with all the searching, trying out and little dramas that go with it. Snezhana von Büdingen first documented the intimate love between mothers and their children with Down’s syndrome in a series of portraits, recorded in a studio in Cologne. But the whole vitality and diversity of her intimate long-term project with Sofie gives her even more hope of being able to tear down „imaginary borders“ between us and the lives of others. The borders of „prejudice and ignorance“. Because we humans, she says, „desperately need more acceptance, more integration, more love“. And she herself also recognises herself in Sofie. Also in Sofie’s need for freedom and rebellion, which alternates with the quiet and almost magical moments. The Global Peace Photo Award is organized by Edition Lammerhuber in partnership with Photographische Gesellschaft (PHG), UNESCO, the Austrian Parliament, the Austrian Parliamentary Reporting Association, the International Press Institute (IPI), the German Youth Photography Award and the World Press Photo Foundation.

The Award is inspired by Austrian pacifist and author Alfred Hermann Fried (* 11 November 1864, Vienna; † 4 May 1921, Vienna). As founder of the journal Die Waffen nieder! (Lay down your arms!) and other peace activities, Fried received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1911, together with Tobias Michael Carel Asser (* 28 April 1838, Amsterdam; † 29 July 1913, The Hague), organizer of the first International The Hague Peace Conference and instigator of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. 

Press material (winning pictures, jury statements, pictures from the event) to download:

Further enquiries:Lois Lammerhuber   +4369913583989

Follow us on Twitter: @FriedPhotoAward
Follow us on Instagram: alfredfriedaward

return to Press

Connect with us