Awards in POYi and Best of Photojournalism

I’m very happy to share that my story Nights at the Neonatal Unit has been awarded a 1st prize in Pictures of the Year International in the category “Newspaper Local Picture Story” and a 3rd prize in Best of Photojournalism in the category “Best Published Picture Story (Smaller Markets)”. I will post the story here on the website soon.

The Yazidis

Large parts of the Yezidi population of northwestern Iraq have taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. They live in camps, under bridges or in unfinished buildings, many of them in the area of Dohuk.
In the beginning of August 2014 the Yezidis fled their homes because the Sunni extremist group Islamic State attacked the areas they lived. Around 40,000 made it to Mount Sinjar where they were surrounded by Islamic State forces. They were left there virtually without food or water, and many died. The Yezidis were able to escape from the mountain with the help of American air strikes. But many were left behind and either killed or kidnapped.
The Yezidi religion is a mixture of ancient religions, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Sufi influences. They worship seven angels, of which Melek Taus or the Peacock Angel is the most important. Muslims and Christians often identify Melek Taus with the devil and accuse the Yezidis for being devil worshippers. The Yezidis have experienced countless attacks, both historically and in modern times.

Favela

Rocinha is the largest favela in Brazil. According to an official census around 70,000 people live in the favela, but unofficial estimates are as high as 2- or 300,000.
In eight years time – from 2003 until 2011 – 40 million of the 200 million citizens in Brazil joined the middle class, and many of them live in favelas like Rocinha. In a way the development of Rocinha is exemplary of the change that Brazil has gone through in the last decades. When Rocinha was founded it consisted of simple shacks built on a steep hill prone to mudslides. Now the neighborhood consists of brick and concrete houses that are sometimes three or four stories high, most of them with basic sanitation, plumbing and electricity. In reality, Rocinha is now classified as a “barrio” (neighborhood), and is no longer technically speaking a favela.
Rocinha, like many other favelas, has been known to be a hiding place for drug traffickers and other criminals. But since FIFA appointed Brazil as the host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup the authorities launched a new project in 2008: Pacification. It was finally the time to clean the favela of the criminals. The goal was to send the traffickers to prison, drive out the gangs, and have the police take control of the slums that for generations had been outside of control of the authorities. While the strategy was successful in the first few years the police has more recently been widely criticized for the way they have acted inside the favelas.

To Be a Child Forever

Malene Sorensen is almost grown up, 19 years old, has moved away from home. Inside she remains a little girl.
If you know the fascination of what goes on inside the head of a little child that sits banging a spoon against a plastic bowl, you also know the fascination of how Malene sees the world. Her enthusiasm of small and big things make you wonder if she experiences the world as if new every moment. At the same time she knows it very well. She knows how to make the sign language signs for ice cream, candy and cakes and knows that with a little luck they will work. She knows that the colorful DVDs on the shelves next to her parents’ French window contain cartoons and other funny movies. She goes around looking through the windows of the institution Svanehuset for hours when she has been told that her parents will visit her that day. And she jumps up and down laughing when they finally arrive. She also knows that the dentist is dangerous, which makes it impossible to get her in the dentist’s chair if she hasn’t been given a sedative. If she needs to have cavities filled she is put under general anaesthesia.
Malene is mentally handicapped, she has epilepsy and she suffers from a mild degree of spastic paralysis. It is unclear why she is handicapped. Perhaps it is due to a birth injury or a chromosome disorder.
She grew up at home with her mother Jannie, her father Hans, her bigger brother Mogens and her bigger sister Maria. Now she lives in the institution Svanehuset in Copenhagen. She has her own room and a small, protected world that she knows well and feels at home in.

Nominated in Press Photography of the Year in Denmark

I’m very happy to share with you that I have been nominated for this year’s Press Photography of the Year in Denmark. The winners will be announced on Friday March 6th.

Website Updated

I’ve finally updated updated my website with new pictures! Check out the People and Places, Stories and Tear Sheets sections.

Modern Day Vikings

It is almost 1000 years ago that the Vikings roamed the earth. But they are still around. Every year they travel to Scandinavia from all over the world – from Germany, USA, France, Australia, Italy. They participate in Viking markets, drink mead, fight with swords, produce authentic handicrafts and enjoy the life of times long past.
The Viking subculture offers an escape from modern, complex life to a simpler world. For many of the modern Vikings, there is a longing back to times when smart phone xenon flashes did not constantly blink at festive moments. Times when a man was a man and quarrels were settled on the battlefield. They try to find that kind of life in the Viking culture. It might be a dream, an illusion. But at least for the duration of the markets they manage to create their own little world that is quite far away from the stressful everyday life of 2013.

People and Places

Places I’ve been, people I’ve met.

Nominated in Danish Press Photography of the Year

I’ve been nominated in this year’s Danish Press Photography of the Year. The full list of nominees is available here. The award ceremony will take place on March 1st.

New job!

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be working at the Danish newspaper Berlingske from September 1st! Also, my story AfriChina is now shown in Øksnehallen, Copenhagen, as part of the Personal Projects group exhibition. Hope to see you there…

AfriChina

China’s appetite for Africa is insatiable. Everywhere on the continent the Chinese are building roads, hospitals and schools; they mine for copper, pump up oil, start up production facilities and sell Chinese goods. In copper-rich Zambia in Southern Africa China has set up its first free trade zone in Africa and is planning to more than double its investments from 1 billion US$ in 2010 to 2.4 billion US$ in 2011. Much is at stake in Zambia where a cultural clash is taking place and where local workers have protested against poor working conditions in the Chinese run companies

Grandmothers

The Kyrgyz grandmothers struggle to make ends meet. The Kyrgyz Republic is the second poorest country in central Asia. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union the country has had severe financial troubles with many companies closing down, resulting in increased unemployment and poverty. Around 80 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s pensioners live below the poverty line, or twice as many as the average of the whole population, and as women on average live substantially longer than men in the country this is especially a problem for the elderly women. The pensions are very small, typically 30 to 60 euro. At the same time prices of basic goods like bread, potatoes, oil, fuel, and medicine are rising. One attempt to help in this problematic situation is GrannyAid, a program designed to help the elderly through self help groups. In these groups the pensioners meet to socialize and help each other and they get financial aid to start little businesses where they for example do different types of handicrafts that they sell on markets. GrannyAid is a joint initiative between DaneAge Association and DanChurchAid.

Exhibition at Copenhagen Photo Festival

I’m very pleased to announce that my story AfriChina will be exhibited in the group exhibition Personal Projects in Øksnehallen during Copenhagen Photo Festival 2012. I am also part of Personal Projects’ large scale exhibition at Kongens Nytorv in Copenhgen, which is up already. Meanwhile, I’m still in the process of updating the website, stay tuned as the sections are updated. Today I’ve added two stories to the story section, AfriChina and Grandmothers.

Le Mans Motor Race

The 24 hour race at Le Mans is the most famous endurance race in the world. It is very rich in tradition. This year’s race is the 78th, and the first race was held in 1923.
The overall winner, as well as the winner in the fastest class LMP1, this year was the Audi car number 9 followed by the Audi 8 and the Audi 7, a complete show of force by the German cars. The French cars Peugeot had hoped to be able to repeat their win from last year, but all their cars abandoned the race before it was over.
The race was held from Saturday June 12th at 3 pm until Sunday June 13th at 3 pm. There was practice and qualifying sessions as well as warm-up in the days and hours up to the race.

Overlooked – Poverty In Denmark

Denmark is one of the richest countries in the World, and also one of the most economically equal countries. But this is changing fast. From 2001 until 2007 the number of poor people in Denmark grew by 50 percent, even though this was a time when the financial situation was very good. This is according to the OECD poverty line, as there is no official poverty line in Denmark. The three families in this picture story are just a few of the people living below the poverty line.
The Ohgrøn family lives in a worn down farmhouse in Ledøje, north west of Copenhagen. There are seven members of the family: the father Per, the mother Sussie and their five children Michelle, Dennis, Dan, Patrick and Daniel. Both parents receive social welfare benefits and the suffer from various illnesses that make it impossible for them to have a job.
Lawand, Narin and their four children are Syrian Kurds. They have escaped from Syria because Lawand, the father of the family, was imprisoned and tortured twice. He tells that there were days when he was hung by his legs for hours. Other days he was locked in a dark closet. He was whipped and beaten with fists. The family lives in two small rooms in the Red Cross Center Avnstrup. Including the little hallway, which is full of footwear in all sizes, the family has around 30 square meters room for sleeping, reading, watching TV and eating. The bathroom is down the corridor in the opposite direction of the communal kitchen. Every fortnight they receive a small allowance.
Connie receives social welfare benefits. She and her two children Christina and Oscar have 3.000 dkr. to pay for food, clothes, diapers, transport, and entertainment when the rent, other regular expenses and her many, expensive loans have been paid. Connie is no longer able to work because of various illnesses. She has asthma, a bad back, and she has suffered from depression and anxiety attacks.

The Bikers

United MC Amager is a small biker club located on the island Amager with a sister club in Karlskoga, Sweden. The members and sometimes their friends and relatives use the club to relax, to party, to fix their bikes. And basically to get away from everyday life. Here in the club they are brothers respecting each other. Sometimes they go on trips to the club in Sweden to enjoy themselves and hang out with their Swedish brothers.

Black Water

The Buriganga River runs through Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It is virtually dead due to pollution primarily from numerous tanneries located in the Hazaribagh area of the city.

The water of the river has turned black. There is a foul smell of chemicals and sewage, and few animals are seen in or around the river, except for countless crows scavenging the riverbanks. Even so, poor people who do not have other options bathe and wash clothes in the river every day. The waste water from the tanneries runs directly into the river with almost no attempt to clean it. Thus 50,000 tons of waste water run into the river every day from industries in the Hazaribagh area, mainly the tanneries.

The leather from the tanneries is primarily exported to Japan and the Western World, either as hides or as finished leather products such as shoes, belts, or jackets. As long as the importing countries do not emphasize the need to produce the leather under environmentally sound conditions, it is unlikely that the river will once again be clean.

The Talibé of Dakar

Daaras, or Koranic schools, are a widespread phenomenon in Senegal. The pupils of the schools are called Talibé. They are taught to read and write the Koran, and many of them go begging in the streets every day to collect money so that they can pay for the teaching. According to UNICEF, around 100,000 children in Senegal are forced to beg on a daily basis.
Often the children are orphans, or their parents don’t have the money to take care of them. So they are sent to a daara, often far away from their homes. The children live in the daara.
One of these many daaras is run by 36-year-old Bubacar Diao. The daara is located in the outskirts of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. There are around 100 children in the school.

The Falconer

Frank Skaarup is a Danish falconer. He breeds Peregrine falcons. The falcons are exclusively sold to buyers in foreign countries as Danish law does not permit sale of domestic species, including Peregrine falcons.
Frank Skaarup has been fascinated by birds of prey ever since he found a young kestrel when he was 11 years old.
Sometimes the falcon doesn’t return when Frank Skaarup calls it. It has occured that he has had to search for one of his falcons for days before its return.

Tear sheets

Selected tear sheets of my work published in various Danish and International media, including STERN, Sunday Times Magazine, Geo France, Le Monde Magazine, Berlingske, Aftenposten Innsikt, Der Spiegel and the FADER Magazine.

A Star in the Sky

In 2007 it was diagnosed that Vibe had a brain tumour. Because of the location of the tumour it was not possible to surgically remove it, so instead Vibe received 30 radiation treatments, four chemotherapy treatments, three high dosage chemotherapy treatments and a number of experimental chemotherapy treatments. In January 2009 Vibe lost the fight against the tumour. At the time of death she was seven years old.
Children get other types of cancer than adults. For example Leukaemia and brain tumours are common with children, while they almost never get lung or breast cancer. Every year there are around 40 new cases of brain tumours with children in Denmark.

My website is being rebuilt

I’m currently updating my website with new stories and tear sheets. Subscribe to RSS to receive news when I’m done or check back regularly…

Tearsheet section updated

I’ve updated the tearsheet section with a story about Chinese influence in Zambia. The story was printed in the Norwegian magazine Aftenposten Innsikt.

First prize in Danish Press Photography of the Year

I’ve received first prize in the category Daily Life in the Danish Press Photography of the Year competition. I won the prize for the cover picture of my book about poverty in Denmark.

New book

My book “Overset” – which means overlooked in Danish – is now published. The book is made together with journalist Tine Johansen for Ekstra Bladets Forlag and Dansk Folkehjælp. Click here to order the book (in Danish). In the book Tine and I document the lives of three families living below the poverty line in Denmark.

New story online

I’ve put a story about the 24 hour endurance race in Le Mans on the website. Click here or go to the stories section to see the pictures.

2nd Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism

My story A Star in the Sky was exhibited at the 2nd Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism. It received the audience award as well as honorable mention in the FreeLens Award for Young Photojournalism.

Awards in Danish Picture of the Year and the PGB Photo Award

My story A Star in the Sky has won first prize in Danish Picture of the Year in the category Reportage Denmark. One of the pictures from the series also won the prize for best picture of the year. The same picture won first prize in the PGB Photo Award in the category Feature Picture of the Year.

World Understanding Award in POYi

My story A Star in the Sky has won World Understanding Award, one of the premiere categories in Picture of the Year international.

Honorable mention in UNICEF Photo of the Year 2009

I’ve received honorable mention in UNICEF Photo of the Year 2009 for my story A Star in the Sky. Click here, scroll down and click my name to see the images.

Award at Festival du Scoop

 My story A Star in the Sky has been awarded the jury’s special prize at the 24th Festival du Scoop international journalism festival in Angers, France.

Exhibition at Festival du Scoop

My story A Star in the Sky will be exhibited at the 24th Festival du Scoop international journalism festival in Angers, France. The festival runs from November 16th until November 28th 2009.

Noorderlicht Photofestival 2009 exhibition

One of my pictures is currently exhibited at Noorderlicht Photofestival 2009 in the group exhibition The Pursuit of Happiness. The photofestival ends 4 October 2009.

A Star in the Sky full version on website

My A Star in the Sky story is now online in full 68 picture edit on this website. Check out stories section or click here to see the pictures.

New tearsheets

Please visit the tearsheets page to see stories in The FADER Magazine and Le Monde 2.

A Star in the Sky story screening

My story A Star in the Sky was screened during the 21st Visa Pour l’Image in Perpignan, France.

3rd prize in EISA Maestro Photo Contest 2009

 I’ve won 3rd prize in this year’s EISA Maestro Photo Contest for my story Black Water.

Exhibition of A Star in the Sky story

My A Star in the Sky story is exhibited in Forhallen at Politikens Hus, Rådhuspladsen 37, Copenhagen. The exhibition is open monday to friday from 8.30 am until 6 pm, saturdays from 10 am until 4 pm. Sundays closed. Last day is tuesday august 11th.

Talibé story published in Libération

 The Lost Children of Senegal. Story in the French newspaper Libération 15th of June 2009.

Black Water story prints for sale

 Black Water story prints for sale now at MediaVU.

A Star in the Sky story online at Moment Agency archive

 
My story A Star in the Sky is now online at the Moment Agency archive (first part of the story is online on this website here.)

First prize in the Danish EISA Maestro award

I’ve won first prize in the Danish EISA Maestro award for 10 pictures from my story Black Water. The pictures will compete in the international EISA Maestro award.

Winner in New York Photo Awards 2009

 I’ve won first prize in the category Editorial Series and honorable mention in the category Editorial Single Image…

New York Photo Awards 2009 nominee

I’ve been nominated in this year’s New York Photo Awards in the categories Editorial Single Image and Editorial Series.

Third prize in Best of Photojournalism 2009

 I’ve won third prize in Best of Photojournalism 2009 in the category Best Published Picture Story (smaller markets) for pictures from the first part of my story A Star in the Sky.

Last chapter of A Star in the Sky story published in Ekstra Bladet

 
Today, Sunday 8th of March, the last chapter of my Fighting Cancer story is published in Ekstra Bladet. See tearsheets.

First prize in the Danish Press Photography of the Year

 
On Friday the 6th I received first prize in the Danish Press Photography of the Year in the category Reportage Denmark for pictures from the first part of my story A star in the Sky about the little girl Vibe and her fight against a brain tumour. Thank you to Vibe and her family for letting me into their lives and to Ekstra Bladet for giving me the chance to tell the story.

The Funeral

Mohammad Hashem, 39 year old pizza baker and father from Burma, was attacked on December 5th 2008 without warning by a group of young Danish men. They stabbed him and his friend Jamal Uddin repeatedly. Mohammad was killed while Jamal survived. The brutal and meaningless killing happened on Kastruplundgade in Kastrup, Copenhagen.
It is suspected that the assault was racially motivated. Mohammad leaves his pregnant wife Farhana Islam and their son Isam Hashem Islam behind.

The Bikers part 2

United MC consists of two sister clubs, one on Amager in Denmark, and one in Karlskoga in Sweden.
Every winter and every summer there is a party in the club in Sweden, and some of the guys from the club on Amager go there to party, hang out, and relax.

Before the Cyclone

In November 2007 the extremely powerful cyclone Sidr swept over Bangladesh leaving behind it a path of destruction, and killing more than 3000 people – some say even more than 10,000. Especially the southern areas of the country were severely affected.
This is the life that was before the cyclone struck. Without a doubt many of the people in the pictures lost their homes, their crops were destroyed, friends and relatives of theirs were injured or killed, or they even lost their lives in the cyclone. Even so, the people of Bangladesh have countless times before overcome disasters, some even worse than this one, and they will this time again.

Welcome to the new website!

Finally it’s ready – so welcome to my new website designed by Sofus Comer. Feel free to browse around, hope you like what you see. 
Captions will be shown when holding the cursor over the pictures. You can use arrow keys to navigate between images. Any comments can be posted in the contact section….    
🙂 Thomas