Filipino photographer Ezra Acayan received one of the highest honors that can be awarded to a photo journalist- the Pulitzer committee on Friday named him a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.
Acayan was nominated as a member of the “Staff of Getty Images” for “thorough coverage of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global community.” The award ultimately went to Emilio Morenatti of the Associated Press for photography of the pandemic’s impact on elderly people in Spain, the Pulitzer Prizes announced on Friday.
Acayan’s contribution to the nominated portfolio was a photograph of Filipinos attempting to board their flights out of Manila at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in March 2020 as the pandemic began to place the world on lockdown.
In response to the news, Acayan tweeted, “Woke up today to incredible news and to one of the biggest honors of my life and my career.”
Acayan, the current chairperson of the Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines, has won several other awards for his work in the past year, according to ABS-CBN News, including 2nd Prize for Nature, Stories in the World Press Photo Photo Contest; Award of Excellence in Science and Natural History Singles from Pictures of the Year International; and Photographer of the Year, Asia from Pictures of the Year Asia.
The Pulitzer Prizes reward “excellence in journalism and the arts,” according to its website. They are administered yearly by Columbia University and selected by a panel of judges.
According to ABS-CBN News, the rule that an awarded work must have been published in an American publication has historically excluded Filipinos from receiving Pulitzer Prizes. The last Filipino to win one was Manuel Mogato in 2018 for coverage of the Philippine Drug War.
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