Memphis photojournalist Karen Pulfer Focht has been recognized as one of the top contemporary photographers in the world Tuesday (Feb. 14) by judges in the LensCulture Exposure Awards for 2017. Focht was one of 25 finalists, chosen from work submitted by photographers from 135 countries, according to Jim Capser, editor-in-chief of LensCulture.
Focht submitted just five photos for the competition: A little girl about to undergo brain surgery at LeBonheur Hospital, where they perform the most pediatric brain surgeries in the world; an iconic image of a mother giraffe loving one of her offspring at the Memphis Zoo; Children reacting to a homeless man eating at St. Mary's Church soup kitchen; workers burying babies in small wooden coffins lined up at a potter's field, part of Focht's Memphis infant mortality project; and a shot of a little girl expressing pure joy as she meets Santa Claus.
The Lens Culture Exposure Awards aim to discover and showcase the world's best contemporary photographers, according to Casper. They "present us with an astonishing range of creative approaches and subject matter," he said.
Focht, who was a photojournalist at The Commercial Appeal newspaper for 25 years, is now self-employed as a contract photographer for newspapers and magazines. She's won many awards, most notably the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for the infant mortality project, which became a call to action as the community came to realize the infant mortality rate in Memphis rivaled some third-world countries.
Contact: Karen Pulfer Focht, firstname.lastname@example.org 901-331-7934
My note to the judges:
This is a body of work that celebrates and reflects the best and the worst of Memphis, Tennessee. Our city has much to celebrate, being the home of St. Jude Children's Hospital, Graceland, Sun Studio, the Mississippi River and a fabulous zoo. We have a very diverse city that has the potential to be one of the next great cities in the south. We attract a lot of tourism with our tremendous civil rights and musical history. However, even with all we have to share, Memphis is one of the poorest cities in the nation. We struggle with high rates of crime, poverty, hunger and infant mortality.
With this project, I hope to share the many powerful stories from this soulful city with the rest of the world.
--Karen Pulfer Focht
My note from Jim Casper-editor-in-chief of LensCulture.: "Congratulations! This is especially good news for you, considering that photographers from 135 countries submitted work for these awards this year, and your work was recognized as being among the best of the best by our international jury."
What is Lens Culture?-Global photography network and online magazine celebrating current trends of contemporary photography in art, media, politics, commerce and popular cultures worldwide. Reaching a monthly audience of over 2 million, and growing steadily.