Torgovnik Wins Portrait Prize

The photographer's portrait of a Rwandan rape victim won the National Portrait Gallery's (UK) top prize.

Jonathan Torgovnik isn't new to recognition; the 38-year-old New York based photographer has received awards totaling more than $45,000 this year, but the National Portrait Gallery's Photographic Portrait Prize tops them all.

Also the recipient of a 2007 Getty Editorial Photography Grant, the Newsweek contract photographer continues to receive recognition for his photographic documentary series, "Intended Consequences: mothers of genocide, children of rape." Over the course of several visits to Rwanda, Torgovnik interviewed rape victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and photographed them with their children.

After publishing several of his early portraits in Stern magazine in Germany, readers donated over $130,000 to help the rape victims send their children to school. In response to the overwhelming donations, Torgovnik went on to create Foundation Rwanda, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing funding for the education of the children born from rape during the 1994 genocide.

Torgovnik will donate a portion of the £12,000 prize (approx. $25,000 USD) to Foundation Rwanda, and will use some of the money to help fund his next trip to Rwanda, which he is planning for January 2008.

Torgovnik says that when the image was shortlisted for the award, he tried to contact Joseline Ingabire, the woman featured in the winning image, to tell her the good news, but that she had been hospitalized because of complications of HIV. He wants to recognize Joseline and the other women he photographed by dedicating the prize in their honor.

"I dedicate this award to the women of Rwanda; the women I photographed," Togovnik said. "The fact that they recognized this portrait from Rwanda is very important for me. I feel that (the rape victims) are winning this award as well because it's all about them."

Torgovnik's winning portrait was selected from nearly 7,000 images submitted by 2,700 photographers from around the world. The competition is open to everyone over the age of 18. Togovnik's portrait will be featured at the National Portrait Gallery in London through February 24, 2008 along with other works including those by individuals shortlisted for the Photographic Portrait Prize.

Julieta Sans, Michelle Sank, and David Stewart were also shortlisted for the award and will receive second, third, and forth place prizes of £3,000, £2,000, and £1,000 respectively. This year, the Photographic Portrait Prize, currently in its fifth year, received more submissions than in any previous years.

Also announced was the winner of the inaugural £2,500 Godfrey Argent Award. The prize, which acknowledges the best portrait taken by a photographer under the age of 25, was awarded to 24-year-old Ivor Prickett, who won for a portrait from his series "The Quiet After the Storm," which tells the story of Croatian Serbs displaced during the Serbo-Croatian war. Prickett, a freelance photographer based in London, was also the recipient of the £2,500 Ian Parry Scholarship, announced earlier this summer.

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