2010 Berenice Abbott Prize Winner – Christopher Capozziello

The Berenice Abbott Prize for an Emerging Photographer is an international competition administered by The Julia Dean Photo Workshops in honor of Julia Dean’s mentor, famed photographer Berenice Abbott.  Each year, one person is selected for this prize and is given a one-person, all expenses paid, exhibition at an LA gallery, an exhibition book, a Canon EOS 50D/ EF 28-135 Kit, plus a spread of the winning work in Rangefinder magazine. The winner also receives a photograph of Berenice Abbott taken by her biographer, Hank O’Neal. The winner of this year’s competition, judged last week by David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, is Christopher Capozziello, for his story on the Ku Klux Klan.

When I make pictures, I ask the permission of others to be allowed into their lives– to observe, and to ask questions – in order to learn and understand somethingthat is outside of my own experience. Sometimes, however, photographs are made that offer little understanding. Sometimes we walk away with questions that offer no answers. The more time I spend with Klansmen, Klanswomen, and their families, the more I find myself with the unanswered questions of why these specific people continue on in a course of segregation and hatred. And sometimes, in rare moments, someone in front of my lens begins to open up in ways that can give us a glimpse into answering these “Why” questions….

Earlier that same night, while explaining to me how the Klan justifies what they believe, David quoted John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

I told him about a close friend of mine, who was a Christian, and an African-American man. I wanted to know if he would not be permitted eternal life based on that scripture, because he was black. David paused a moment and said he had never thought about it that way before. He said, based on the scripture, he thought my friend would have eternal life.

A couple of months later, I received an email from David, and he said that, based on my questions and our conversations, he began to feel that the Klan had it wrong, and that he had decided to leave. All of this, because I was just doing what I was supposed to do: ask questions.

Visit a sideshow of some of Capozziello’ images at The Julia Dean Photo Workshops.

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