Established in 2009, the Carmignac Photojournalism Award is designed to support photographers in the field. Every year, it funds the production of an investigative photo reportage. The winning laureate, who is selected by an international jury, receives a €50,000 grant in order to carry out a six-month report with the support of the Fondation Carmignac.

In return, the foundation produces a travelling exhibition and a book, with four of the images from the report bequeathed to the permanent collection of the Fondation Carmignac. For the tenth edition of the award, the topic chosen was the Amazon and issues related to its deforestation.

Araribóia, Maranhão. A member of the Guajajara forest guard in a moment of sad silence at the sight of a tree cut down by suspected illegal tree loggers. Photo: Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac

From January to July 2019, the recipient was Italian photojournalist Tommaso Protti, who, accompanied by the British journalist Sam Cowie, travelled thousands of miles across the Brazilian Amazon to create the work featured in the book Amazônia.

Keen to portray life in modern-day Brazilian Amazon, where social and humanitarian crises overlap with ongoing destruction of the rainforest, the duo journeyed from the eastern region of Maranhão to the western region of Rondônia, through the states of Pará and Amazonas.

Pau d’Arco, Pará. A landless peasant erects a sign claiming occupation of a Santa Lúcia farm. Photo: Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac

Speaking about the project, Protti said, ‘I wanted to illustrate the social transformations, focusing on the veiled truth of the bloodshed and destruction that are currently taking place in the region. These diverse forms of violence are the consequences of changes in the global market, as well as of the exponential increase of global consumption, from cocaine to beef.’

Grajau, Maranhão. A deforested area in the southern Maranhão State seen from a helicopter. Photo: Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac

Raising awareness

He continues, ‘Scientists say the forest is reaching a point of no return because of deforestation, fuelled by illegal logging, and because of land grabbing, agricultural expansion, state and private sector-led development and resource extraction projects. It’s important to raise awareness of the situation and to question it.’

Environmental issues are, without question, one of the biggest and most important stories of our generation. This important work is well worth picking up for anybody with an interest in the environment and its impact on communities, but also those who enjoy black & white and documentary photography.

Manaus, Amazonas. A young man lies dead in the streets of a poor neighbourhood. Photo: Tommaso Protti for Fondation Carmignac

Amazônia by Tommaso Protti

£35, hardback,
144 pages,
Fondation Carmignac/ Reliefs,
ISBN 979-10-96554-90-4