The wonderful world of African photography – Africa is an exceptionally diverse place, but you wouldn't always know it judging from how it's depicted in photographs. For too long, the same stereotypes -- swinging between safari and slum shots -- have plagued the pictorial record of the continent.
Berlin-based media artist Benjamin Fuglister wanted to change all that. The editor and founder of piclet.org -- an online, international directory of hand-picked photographers -- found he was unaware of much of the talent documenting the region.
"I started to notice that a lot of the photography coming out of Africa over the years was coming from the same pool of people," he says.
Eager both to discover new talent from within Africa, and get that talent recognized by the international photography community, he launched the POPCAP prize for contemporary African photography. Though the contest is open to anyone, regardless of age or nationality, all photographs must be taken from either within Africa, or from one of the African diaspora communities abroad.
Now in its third year, POPCAP received over 720 submissions from 88 different countries. Last week, the five winners of this year's competition -- picked by a panel of 26 internationally-sourced judges -- were announced.
Patrick Willocq, I am Walé Respect Me
In his series "I am Walé Respect Me," the DRC-based photographer explores an initiation ritual for young mothers -- or Walé -- in the Ekonda pygmy community.
By Daisy Carrington, for CNN
Patrick Willocq, I am Walé Respect Me – New mothers live in seclusion with their parents for two to five years, and ultimately return to celebrations marked by dancing and ritual. During this celebration, they sing the story of their loneliness. For his series, Willocq asked a number of Walé to pose in staged photographs. Each image is a visual representation of the song sung by the participant.
"I've always been fascinated by native tribes because I feel they have a wealth that we have somehow lost," says Willocq.
"Today, many initiation rituals in the Congo are disappearing. The ritual of the Walé woman has resisted the pressures of modern life -- but for how long?"
Patrick Willocq, I am Walé Respect Me – "These photos are so elaborate, and Willocq showed a great technical skill," says Fuglister.
"The photos are just a very different way of dealing with the topic."
Joana Choumali, The last generation – Joana Choumali, The last generation
Joana Choumali was born in the Ivory Coast in 1974, at a time when scarifcation -- the practice of making decorative incisions on the skin -- was already on the decline in the region. Her portrait series, "The last generation", is one of the few contemporary explorations of the diminishing ritual.
Joana Choumali, The last generation – "I had trouble finding scarified people to photograph because of their rarity," admits Choumali.
"The practice is disappearing due to pressure from religious and state authorities, changing urban practices and the introduction of clothing within tribes."