Direct Look

International Direct Look photo contest for documentary photography


FOTODOC Center for Documentary Photography at Sakharov center is pleased to announce our seventh annual international Direct Look photo contest.

Contest theme: problems pertaining to relations between individuals, society and state, as well as ways of addressing these problems.

The goal of the contest:

• Facilitate growth and promotion of independent journalism.
• Support authors who research issues addressing the relationship between individuals and society and state.
• Support photo projects based on respect and advocacy for human dignity, fundamental principles of the Russian Constitution and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The contest is held in three distinct categories:

The Problem - Issues, friction, disagreements or discord that arise within society between individuals, communities, civic institutions, and states.

The Conflict - The most heated methods of solving issues: disagreements or discord within society between individuals, civic institutions and the state. It manifests itself in parties acting against each other and is often accompanied by negative emotions that extend beyond existing norms and rules.

The Compromise - Conflict resolution through dialogue, social change or reform.

The jury 2021:
Jury consists of leading photo editors and curators from different countries:
Svetlana Bachevanova, publisher of FotoEvidence and documentary photographer;
Andrei Polikanov, photo editor, visual director at «Takie Dela» project;
Kathy Moran, Deputy Director of Photography in National Geographic magazine;
Thomas Borberg, Photo Editor-in-Chief in Politiken newspaper in Denmark.

Direct Look photo contest is held for the seventh year.

Each photographer may submit up to three photo series (reports) per category. Each entry shall comprise no less than 7 and not exceed 15 images. All entry descriptions and image captions must be in English. The content of the project, specified at the description, should not be duplicated at image captions. Restriction on the number of characters: the project description should not contain more than 1200 characters, one space per word; image captions should not contain more than 500 characters, one space per word.

Voting will be held in two periods. On the first period short-list will be defined. Projects included to short-list will be involved into photo contest printed catalog. On the second period the jury will choose three winners in each nomination, who will obtain honourable prizes of Direct Look photo contest. Thee winners who will take the first place in each nomination will get 30 000 rubles. Winners series will be exposed at the exhibition in October 2021.

You can submit your digital images for preliminary consideration and Jury voting until 23:59 MSK, June 01, 2021. Applications will be accepted in English. There is no entry fee.


Thee winners who will take the first place in each nomination will get 30 000 rubles. Nine finalists in three distinct categories will obtain honourable prizes of Direct Look photo contest. Winners series will be shown at the exibition in October 2020. Projects included in the short-list will be printed in the photo contest catalogue.


The contest is open to all photographers, professional and amateur, regardless of age, sex or nationality

Copyrights & Usage Rights:

Entrants must have sole ownership of copyright for all images.

Any work submitted to the contest may be used for promotion. The organizing committee acknowledges that the copyright of each image belongs to the photographer of the work, but no royalties will be payable to the photographer if the image is published in the media or exhibitions related to the contest. The contest will be judged using a ‘blind’ system in which the judges will not know the names of the participants. Those works published before the shortlist for the contest is announced will therefore be published anonymously.

Printed copies of images displayed at the final gala exhibition can be used by the Organizing Committee for future exhibition display and any other non-profit purpose for the popularization of the contest.