INSP Awards: best photo nominees offer insight and empathy

Featuring vendors’ makeshift homes, tender moments and even ‘knights of the country road’, the nominees for Best Photograph at the INSP Awards show the ability of street papers to offer their readers a different point of view.

All this week, INSP reveals the longlisted entries for the editorial categories of the INSP Awards.

Today we present the top ten in the Best Photograph category (below, in alphabetical order). These will now go forward to the first of our international design panels, who will decide our finalists. We will announce the finalists in May.

If you’d like to leave a comment to make the case for your favourite photo, we’d be delighted to present these comments to our panels.

The ultimate winners of all awards will be announced in June at the Global Street Paper Summit and here on

The Big Issue South Africa

The Happiness Shop Photo: Don Pinnock

Photographer Don Pinnock: “As a photojournalist writing about gangs, I simply had to also photograph them. But gang areas of Cape Town are very dangerous, especially when you move around with expensive cameras. So I enlisted the help of the Metro Police and they agreed to run protection. They kitted me up with bullet-proof vest and instructions to lie flat in the van if shooting started.

“As we slowed down outside a spaza shop [an informal convenience store, usually run from home] I saw this kid sobbing. He walked towards the heavily guarded front of the shop and as he leaned against the wall the hand of the Somalian shopkeeper came out the grill and stroked his head, comforting him. An act of compassion that trumped xenophobia. The sign was pure serendipity. I didn’t see it until I processed the photo.”

The Contributor, USA

Mayor Karl Dean

“When The Contributor decided to write a Q&A with Nashville’s outgoing Mayor, Karl Dean, we wanted to take a photo of him that captured his exhaustion and his relief of completing two terms as mayor of Nashville.

“The stark, black-and-white photo combined with his rigid pose gives gravity to the question posed by the article: did Karl Dean do enough to help the homeless in Nashville?”

The Curbside Chronicle, USA


“This photo features Cathy, a domestic violence survivor who experienced homelessness when she left her abuser. This photo conveys a powerful message that is only made stronger with Cathy as the spokesperson. The image depicts Cathy with a man’s hand silencing her mouth. Cathy was held silent for 20 years of abuse, but she will no longer be kept silent. Cathy is speaking out for all of the women currently in abusive relationships, unable to tell the world their suffering.”

The Curbside Chronicle, USA

Dashboard Confessional by Gary (Curbside Vendor) and Christian Bruggeman

“Every year The Curbside Chronicle hosts a photography project with our vendors. How I See OKC is a photography exhibit showcasing what our city looks like through the eyes of individuals experiencing homelessness. Curbside Chronicle vendor Gary says of his photo, ‘When I was living in my truck, I kept a picture of Jesus, my drinks, and my snacks on my dashboard. I kept the picture of Jesus for safety. He watched over me on the streets.'”

Denver Voice, USA

Diane Lorene Cox

“There is an area of downtown Denver where entire blocks are filled with people “camping” (the city’s euphemism). Frequently, individuals and groups will drop off donations of food, clothing, and blankets to the folks sleeping on the streets. City officials and service organizations are in an argument with homeless advocates about this practice. The official line from the city and the Denver Rescue Mission is that the donations prevent people from coming indoors for services. However, advocates say the donations exist because there is a need, and people on the streets call the donations a blessing.

“The woman pictured in this photo is Diane Lorene Cox. She is one of the people living on the streets for whom curbside donations are a blessing. And like everyone else on the streets, she’s living in the middle of the argument between the City and advocates. Her imploring shrug captured in this photo perfectly conveys the frustration of those on the streets.”

= Oslo, Norway

Death takes a break Photo: Dimitri Koutsomytis

“This picture is a part of a 10-page photo essay in =Oslo, in our October 2015 issue. I witnessed a rescue of Syrian refugees taking place outside the Greek island of Lesvos on 7 September, 2015. The picture shows a father, a mother and a seven-month-old girl on the ferry’s car deck. Her father kept her in his arms for 7-8 hours above the water in a halfway sunken boat. This story ended well. The minute after she was smiling!”

Faktum, Sweden

Bosse Photo: Mario Prhat

“‘A ramshackle shed’ according to the authorities. ‘My home,’ says Bosse. He rented the cottage for 25 years from the municipality. Now he has been evicted from his only home, deep in the woods outside of Gothenburg in Sweden. He lost the fight and said to Faktum: ‘This is going to be my death.’ Bosse was right, one year later he passed away.”

Hinz&Kunzt, Germany

Bernah Photo: Lena Maja Wöhler

“For me, this is the ‘photo of the year’. Because it does not show a homeless person, but rather a person in their home. The photo is taken with such respect and is so beautiful yet remains thoroughly authentic. For Lena Maja Wöhler always ensures she photographs with respect. She does not stage scenes in the classic sense, but rather exposes the beauty of what is already there.”

Hus Forbi, Denmark

Klovnen and Søforklaring Photo: Mette Kramer Kristensen

“The two friends in this photo are ‘knights of the country road’, directly translated from the Danish term for these travellers that walk the country with their prams often in colourful ‘uniforms’. The knights have their own hierarchy, monarchy and a lot of rituals!

“They have been on the road together for many years. Nearly all knights travel in pairs with their best friend for company and safety. Quite a few of the knights are Hus Forbi vendors. Although they are mostly homeless by choice, they often have tragic stories leading to that choice.”

Sorgenfri, Norway

Stian Photo: Marius Tvinnereim

“Stian chooses to live outdoors when he can, as his post traumatic stress syndrome tend to make him anxious indoors. ‘I breath easier out here,’ he explains. ‘I have an apartment outside Trondheim as well but I can’t use it as the anxiety strikes me within minutes in there. It reminds me too much of my childhood home.’”