Emerging Photographer Grant 2010 Recipient


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Davide Monteleone

Northern Caucasus

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Northern Caucasus is a mix of stereotypes as well as surprises. For centuries it has been a country of political, religious, military and expansionist rivalry, a struggle between opposing states, and also between allied states. Ever since the beginning of the 19th century, this region has been part of the tsarist Russian Empire, later absorbed by the Soviet Block.

With the 1991 radical transformations involving the entire Warsaw Pact coalition, and the storm caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union,  new and ancient disputes resurfaced, and in some cases worsened, and revived political and economic aims of supremacy in the area.

This project takes into account the regions in which these disputes are not over yet, or may be apparently concluded, as intermittent fires under the political rhetoric of normalization and pacification. I intend to investigate with without prejudices such reality, beginning with the daily life of people living in the Northern Caucasus, who never reached their coveted independence and are still suffering the ramifications of the Russian Empire during the colonial age. They are divided between the claim for independence and the pride for their diversity, economic subordination, the historical-political and mental affiliation, the condemnation to an eternal geographic position in a limbo limes, and the elaboration of a new post-soviet identity. My goal is to go further away from the bird’s eye view of the geopolitical analysis, gliding down to a low altitude to find the details of such a complex world, with the aim to give a new key to the present day Russian Caucasus.

I’ve been working from Chechnya to Dagestan, from Northern to Southern Ossetia, just after the war in August 2008, all the way to Abkhazia, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea coasts, crossing geographical and political borders. My interest isn’t to cover the news that brought the region back under the international floodlights, but to carry on a considered path by making notes of the tracks left behind.



Born in 1974, Davide Monteleone spent the first 18 years of his life moving to various cities of Italy because of the work of his parents. After graduating, he studied engineering and then stopped to move to the U.S. and after that to England. Is here that he discovered his interest in photography and journalism. Back in Italy in 2000, he completed his studies in photography and journalism and began working with the major Italian magazines. At the end of 2001 he moved again, this time to Moscow, where he lived until 2003 working as correspondent for the photo agency Contrasto. This choice proved to be determining for his career. He started working regularly with major national and international newspapers such as D, Io Donna L’espresso, New York Times, Time, Stern, and the New Yorker. Since 2003 he lives both in Italy and Russia, where he is pursuing long-term personal projects and continues his editorial work. He published his first book Dusha, Russian Soul in 2007.


Editor’s Note:

Davide will receive $15,000. from Burn Magazine through the Magnum Cultural Foundation to continue his work in the Northern Caucasus.



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Davide Monteleone


77 thoughts on “EPF 2010 Winner”

  1. Could it be? “O” comments it says? Could it really be my opportunity to be the first to congratulate you? Or is someone else tying their congratulations right now, to beat me to the punch?

    I will click “submit” and see!


  2. Damnit, Valery!

    Having lost that race, let me praise Davide on his work and say how much I look foward to seeing more. 15 is gorgeous, but so is 13, 12… hell… in their way, each is gorgeous!

  3. фантастический! Давед!…..Поздравляю!..

    Im always excited to see great stories coming out of Chechnya and the wider North Caucasus region.

    really well done.



  4. I would like to congratulate Davide on his huge achievment..i need to spend some more time on the essay..it’s very powerful..but for the moment..a heapin’ helpin’ of heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS!!!


  5. Not unlike the work “Black Life” images by the late Ruben Mangasaryan

    ………..Davide’s web site indicates why he is a worthy winner.

  6. Exceptional.. Real moments in time that can be related across culture… your more than a photographer, your an artist.

  7. davide….
    dah and anton and all….
    thanks for making this happen, again….
    its always an inspiration and a reminder of how important our stories are…

  8. That’s a great news!!!! I’m actually in Moscow, and in one week I will travel again to the Caucasus to continue my project! I just want to thank David and all the jury for this support!



  9. Congrats Davide and David and Anton fro make this happen.
    Really awesome pictures, and storytelling. Davide, just keep going. Best ex – USSR photography: You and Jonas Bendiksen!

    Also congrats to every finalist, waiting for the whole bunch of essays.


  10. Good job Davide. Hopefully you will be there to capture the joy of peace in the region.

    Your photos are excellent; you deserve the grant. Looking forward to your finished piece, and hopefully it will include the final peace!

  11. Amazing! … celebrate EPF 2010 winner, Davide and all finalists.
    Hope we all keep going with passion.
    Thank you so much for MR.DAH

  12. Davide: You have vision, sir. And a heart. It’s good knowing you’re out there. Congratulations to you as well as to all the finalists.

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  14. Congratulations, Davide, on an honor well deserved! Your essay shows such a powerful sense of place, people and world events while retaining the uniqueness of your artistic eye.

    And congratulations to DAH, Anton and Magnum for making this EPF grow during three years where the economic crisis has caused most everything else to wither and die. Because you believe in and work for the impossible, it happens.

    And thanks to Allessandra, Nick and Bruce for making such a fine choice of EPF winner among a group of excellent finalists.

  15. Pingback: EPF 2010 Winner Northern Caucasus | burn magazine | The Click


    well done mate…..maybe we’ll see u some time in moscow….

    love the cinema of the car pics and the sacrificed bull and the winter telephone poles….

    and yes, big applause for david and anton for pulling this off :))


  17. A beautiful, haunting essay and an excellent choice as the winner. Congratulations Davide, and thank you David and everyone who helps the photographic work. The world needs it.

  18. Manuel Garcia

    congratulations Davide!! ,, this work it really got into me,, so so incredible piece of work,, I runned out of words

  19. Congratulations Davide, a well presented and mature essay that educates the viewer. I’m sure we will be seeing more from you.


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  21. Excellent job with a strong authorship… It would be very interesting if Davide shared with me how he managed to live, work and get access with his subjects in that wild region… it’s a horrible unpredictable region with unpredictable people, and there is a constant danger to anybody… not to mention a foreigner with a camera… I am from a former soviet block, I speak Russian, but I have no imagination how is that would be possible for me to be there… Davide, please…

  22. Hi Antony, the region is actually not so dangerous,or well is dangerous for some people living there more that for foreigners…the biggest problem for journalist and photographer is the freedom of movement and the authorities that did not like me and the journalist working with me too much!!! People, families are actually really hospitable. We spent really some nice time together with people. We also had some not nice “adventure”, but this normally involved police and authorities.

  23. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Someone already mentioned this essay was cinematic. To that I would add painterly, impressionistic, filled with humanity (behind and in front of the lens), at once earthy and ethereal. In short the kind of work that connects and moves people. A worthy winner. Great congratulations Davide and continued success with this and all your works. Some stunning individual images – #s 5,6,18-22 are real standouts for me.
    I would take one tiny exception with your statement where you say “I intend to investigate without prejudices….”

    Your website has further remarkable work in it.

    Bravo Davide. Bravo burn.

  24. O Davide thanks for respond… what transportation did you use? are there any hotels? Seems the infrastructure is very poor in that region, but again, I could be wrong as with my previous concerns about safety…

  25. I feel that this year’s recipient’s work is not as one dimensional as last years winner. Davine seems to be quite flexible in his approach both technically and in interpretation of what is before him. Sure the richness and variety of the environment goes a long way in creating the visual drama and pictorial splendour but it still requires a photographer that is willing to adapt conceptually.

  26. Davide, Congratulations. Stunning and inspirational in equal measure. Great depth of subject exploration overall as well as impact of individual images. Interesting to read comments about how you went about this work.

  27. DAVIDE,

    Sincere congratulations… I love your photography, the color palette, the diversity of the shots…really wonderful essay and it is very pleasing to see your work recognized….So many wonderful shots but the picture 20 touches me in particular… I hope Davide that this well-deserved prize will serve you well and please do share back with us on BURN the work you will be doing.



  28. Congratulations Davide,

    I saw some of these pictures published on “Internazionale” a couple of months ago. Really love your treatment of the light and colors, the ordered way in which you fill the frame up with many elements and layers…
    Well done!

  29. Davide, you have such an eye for color. And shadow. And highlight. And composition. And in this series the absence of peace.

    My heart cried out that the essay that got the most attention was on conflict and pain.

    Over these past weeks I have cried, stood with my hands over my mouth and in shock so many times. And then there is the beauty and help that I see.

    What am I saying? I am saying I am glad you are a witness. I am glad Burn is helping you continue your work. I wish for photos of peace. I’m conflicted.

    Love, light, color & mood,


  30. To Davide: Congrats! You truly have an exception body of work to move forward with and I cannot wait to see what you will do with this grant to further the story. I am inspired and moved by this series. The wedding photograph especially, number 3, is like looking into an oil painting by an artist who is so moved by his subject that each brush stroke shows emotion. I can tell you photograph in the same vein, and that is what makes these images so entrancing. Congratulations!

    To David: Thank you for this groundbreaking forum. I am so inspired by these stories, and the support you’ve given the photojournalism community. You could have stopped with your photography alone and provide young and emerging photographers with inspiration. Instead you have provided not only this domain for viewing and discussing great photography, but the financial means to pursue projects that truly matter. Thank you!

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  33. I’m going in Germany for few days, and then back to the Caucasus to continue this project. I would like to thank for all the nice comment you wrote. Really thank you so much, is a motivation more to do the best I can in the next trip. For Antony: basic hotel are present in the area, and Grozny is today a brand new town….at list in the center. Anyway, I have been host, together with the journalist Lucia Sgueglia, most of the time in private houses of local people.

    Than you again.


  34. incredible! congrats on the receiving the fund, you definitely deserve it. I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed with compositions in this format. Stunning.

  35. Counratulations to you Davide and like Panos said Keep it up man:) Amazing stuff.

  36. I’m glad for you davide.
    however, would you really consider yourself as an emerging photographer?
    maybe this award should change its name…

  37. hey davide…well deserved! really impressive work. I didn’t make it to the finalists but i recognize how powerful and intriguing all the these projects are so it’s been fair. Well done Burn for another fantastic work putting this together!

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  39. This is really well done. I like the desaturated look of some of them and I love how #13 glows! Your post-production skills are World Press-worthy!

  40. Strike:


    Festival for young photojournalism, Hannover, Germany:

    “The winner of this year’s »Freelens-Award« is Davide Monteleone. With his story »Northern Caucasus« the Italian photographer won a prize money of 10.000 €. The award was presented by Thomas Höpker in the atrium of the multimedia vocational school this evening.”

    Congratulazioni, Davide, stay safe!

  41. Pingback: Davide Monteleone wins FreeLens young photojournalist prize for Northern Caucaus work « HotBlog: Fresh Perspectives on Contemporary Photography

  42. Great work by Davide and well deserved prize, but honestly… “emerging photographer”???? Davide Monteleone??? Winner of two world press photo awards, an IPA, longtime Contrasto affiliate, author of various books…. in my opinion, he is to be considered a veteran.

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  44. Yeah, I guess so, it would be great to have an answer from the organizers… David? What do you think?

  45. I like the collection of photo’s.
    Shows the skills of an experienced and honed photographer. One that has produced numerous books that have won numerous international awards, has won ipa’s and a world press photo, has worked in a well known agency for 8 years and has exhibited regularly and frequently for the past 8 years.
    Emerged photographer award maybe.
    Emerging icon maybe.
    Emerging photographer? he is clearly not.
    I respect the photographer and his work and glad it exists but there are plenty of suitable awards that fit his position and which he has already been recipient of.
    I have little confidence in the burn ethos as it seems grounded in a necessity to prove itself as being the best out there. Is the reason that a non-emerged winner did not win the award because there was not one suitable of the burn award?
    If this is so then please say so.
    There are many young photographers out there doing interesting though provoking work but are limited by commercial viability and the market. Patting the back of a “made” photographer further breaks the backs of the emerging, you name and fame have heralded this site as a beacon for those looking to seek out an education in a new generations response to the medium. Sadly the market does not have the time to discover for itself but relies on a handful of personalities and bodies that dominate the field.
    I find it problematic that this sits is attempting to gain success as a commercial entity heralding in a new form dealing with the market and that of attempting to be a platform for fresh new emerging photographers.
    I’m concerned that Burn is becoming part of the problem and not the solution.

  46. Maybe it is more about what the photographer is doing than the photographer himself. Remember it is funding designed to support continuation of a photographer’s personal project.
    Could be that the term emerging is to narrow perhaps? People are taking it for its literal meaning? Making wine out of sour grapes? In the end the 10 big ones have gone to a committed photographer with a pretty nifty project that seems to have a good spin on it.

    Dunno about you lot but I know that I am emerging ……………….that hole I dug was sure deep

  47. Good points about the emerging aspect, though I can’t say I agree with the nefarious reasons proposed.

    Personally Imants, my “plan” is to dig harder.

  48. I was refering to David Alan Harvey; as curator of this beautiful website, I would have loved to hear his opinion on this issue…

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  50. Ah, I see the debate stopped there where I left it two months a go… too bad…I think it would have been interesting to know other people’s opinions.

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