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The Hansel Mieth Prize

Award for a print text/photo feature on social issues in German, published or unpublished

Born in Oppelsbohm, Württemberg, Hansel grew up in a strict Protestant household. She ran away to America with her boyfriend Otto Hagel at the age of 15, initially surviving on day and migrant labor. The couple’s earliest photographs, taken at first with the simplest cameras and later with a secondhand Leica, reflect the perspective of the underdog: images from the everyday routine of the poor, the unemployed, cotton pickers, American Indians.

Hansel Mieth’s credo: “To be a good photographer, you have to feel what people feel when they’re down.” Hansel and Otto got to know renowned photographers like Robert Capa and Eugene W. Smith and helped create the new socially conscious and concerned photo essay. Demanding respect rather than charity for their subjects, they took sides without straining for romantic pathos. As Hansel Mieth put it, “Empathy is the first injustice.” Starting in 1937, the headstrong Swabian worked as a photo reporter at the newly founded magazine LIFE.

The Hansel Mieth Prize was established to recognize excellence in socially conscious photo features produced for German-language print media, published or unpublished. The award of six thousand euros is given to a writer-photographer team for a complete article (text and photos).

The jury is made up of prominent authors, photographers and editors from prestigious German publications. The annual deadline for submissions is in January. The jury makes its decision in March.