UNICEF-Photo of the Year

UNICEF Photo of the Year

Each year, UNICEF Germany has awarded the “UNICEF Photo of the Year Award” to photos and photo series that best depict the personality and living conditions of children all around the world. The award of the prize “UNICEF Photo of the Year” will be decided upon by an independent jury.

The contest

Each year since 2000, UNICEF Germany has awarded the “UNICEF Photo of the Year Award” to photos and photo series that best depict the personality and living conditions of children worldwide in an outstanding manner. Only professional photographers are eligible for this contest and they have to be recommended by internationally renowned photography experts. 

"High-quality documentary photography can open eyes. The work, which is awarded annually in the UNICEF photo contest, succeeds in exactly this way: It opens one’s eyes to the situation of children in our world", says Georg Graf Waldersee, Chairman of UNICEF Germany. "The pictures show children's fates, honest and sincere, some ruthless and some full of hope. They are a powerful appeal for empathy and compassion, reminding us of our shared mission: to work for the well-being of the children worldwide." 

To ensure the comparability of submitted images for the jury, all photos are printed on a uniform format and paper. Epson Germany prints both the pictures for the jury (except in 2020 and 2021) and the exhibition for the "UNICEF Photo of the Year" in the Haus der Bundespressekonferenz in Berlin. All entries are anonymized shown in the jury session.

The participants

Photographers from more than 90 nations and all five continents have so far been awarded. With individual photos or photo series they document the living conditions of children who are in difficult circumstances such as war, material and emotional distress, after natural disasters. However, they also portray moments of happiness, joy of living and facets of their different everyday lives.

Winners of the Years 2000-2020

Country of the lost children. © Matias Costa/Freelance photographer

Bild 1 von 21 | "Country of the lost children" by Matias Costa/Freelance photographer

© Matias Costa/Freelance photographer
Siviani on the sofa. © Meredith Davenport/Freelance photographer

Bild 2 von 21 | "Siviani on the sofa" by Meredith Davenport/Freelance photographer

© Meredith Davenport/Freelance photographer
Forgotten Refugees of the World. © Jan Grarup/Politiken/Noor

Bild 3 von 21 | "Forgotten Refugees of the World" by Jan Grarup/Politiken/Noor

© Jan Grarup/Politiken/Noor
Bound to El Norte. © Don Barletti/Los Angeles Times

Bild 4 von 21 | "Bound to El Norte" by Don Barletti/Los Angeles Times

© Don Barletti/Los Angeles Times
Darfur in Flames. © Marcus Bleasdale/VII

Bild 5 von 21 | "Darfur in Flames" by Marcus Bleasdale/VII

© Marcus Bleasdale/VII
Street children in Odessa. © David John Gillanders/Freelance Photographer

Bild 6 von 21 | "Street children in Odessa" by David John Gillanders/Freelance Photographer

© David John Gillanders/Freelance Photographer
The Kashmir Earthquake. © Jan Grarup/Politiken/Noor

Bild 7 von 21 | "The Kashmir Earthquake" by Jan Grarup/Politiken/Noor

© Jan Grarup/Politiken/Noor
Child brides. © Stephanie Sinclair/VII Network

Bild 8 von 21 | "Child brides" by Stephanie Sinclair/VII Network

© Stephanie Sinclair/VII Network
Surviving in Haiti. © Alice Smeets/Out of Focus

Bild 9 von 21 | "Surviving in Haiti" by Alice Smeets/Out of Focus

© Alice Smeets/Out of Focus
Deadly superstition. © Johan Bävman/Freelance Photographer/Moment

Bild 10 von 21 | "Deadly superstition" by Johan Bävman, Freelance Photographer/Moment

© Johan Bävman/Freelance Photographer/Moment
Vietnam: The legacy of war. © Ed Kashi/VII

Bild 11 von 21 | "Vietnam: The legacy of war" by Ed Kashi/VII

© Ed Kashi/VII
Ghana: Waste export to Africa. © Kai Löffelbein/University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover

Bild 12 von 21 | "Ghana: Waste export to Africa" by Kai Löffelbein/University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover

© Kai Löffelbein/University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hannover
Syria: Children between the lines. © Alessio Romenzi/Corbis Images Agency

Bild 13 von 21 | "Syria: Children between the lines" by Alessio Romenzi/Corbis Images Agency

© Alessio Romenzi/Corbis Images Agency
Syria's “forgotten” child victims © Niclas Hammarström/Kontinent

Bild 14 von 21 | Syria's "forgotten" child victims by Niclas Hammarström/Kontinent

© Niclas Hammarström/Kontinent
Philippines: Wanna have love!? | © Insa Hagemann and Stefan Finger/laif

Bild 15 von 21 | Philippines: Wanna have love!? by Insa Hagemann and Stefan Finger/laif

© Insa Hagemann and Stefan Finger/laif
Greek-Macedonian border: Utter despair | © Georgi Licovski/epa

Bild 16 von 21 | Greek-Macedonian border: Utter despair by Georgi Licovski/epa

© Georgi Licovski/epa
Iran: Defending the right to smile | © Arez Ghaderi (Freelancer)

Bild 17 von 21 | Iran: Defending the right to smile by Arez Ghaderi

© Arez Ghaderi (Freelancer)
Syria: The face of a tormented childhood. © Muhammed Muheisen/AP/dpa

Bild 18 von 21 | Syria: The face of a tormented childhood by Muhammed Muheisen, AP/dpa

© Muhammed Muheisen/AP/dpa
Togo: Every child matters
Bild 19 von 21 © Antonio Aragón Renuncio, Spain (Freelance Photographer)
Philippines: Garbage, the Children and Death
Bild 20 von 21 © Hartmut Schwarzbach, Germany (Argus Photo Agency)
Lesbos, Griechenland: Die brennende Not

Bild 21 von 21 | "The flames of misery" by Angelos Tzortzinis (AFP)

© Angelos Tzortzinis, Greece (AFP)

The jury 2021

The award of the prize “UNICEF Photo of the Year” was decided upon by an independent jury headed by Professor Klaus Honnef, art and photography academic.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year's jury meeting was held in digital form again. The members of the jury  signed up for this in the virtual meeting via zoom to discuss and award the winners of the "UNICEF Photo of the year 2021".

Jury UNICEF-Photo of the Year 2021

UNICEF Photo of the Year Project Team and the Jury (from left to right): Caroline Dohmen, Project Team; Elisabeth Sachse-Grimm, Project Team; Tamara Soliz, Project Team; Prof. Klaus Honnef, Art Historian and Publicist; Jutta Schein, Deputy Head of the Photo editorial office DIE ZEIT; Peter-Matthias Gaede, Deputy Chairman German Committe of UNICEF and former long term Editor-in-chief of GEO Germany; Angela Rupprecht, Concept UNICEF Photo of the year; Gisela Kayser, Independent Curator; Andrea Floß, Project Team; Bernd von Jutrczenka, Chief Correspondent Photo, dpa; Maike Günnel, Project Team; Ute Noll, Gallery Owner Uno Art Space, Photo Director „DU“ Magazine.


Well-known photo experts from the field of photo journalism and fine arts form the jury. The jury is independent of UNICEF and the nominating experts. It selects photojournalistic reportages and documentations that render outstanding services to aesthetical and journalistic quality as well as respect for children and their living conditions.

The nominating photo experts

Among the nominating photo experts are representatives of news agencies such as EPA (European Pressphoto Agency), dpa (German Press Agency) as well as photo agencies such as VII agency, laif, Agence VU, VOHH and several more. Additionally, there are experts from renowned academies of photography such as the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, Germany and the Danish School of Photojournalism as well as internationally well-known photographers, such as this year's photgraphers Patrick Brown, Maria Mann, Laura Boushnak and the photo editors Sherri Dougherty und Mojtaba Abdoulrahimkhan. All experts are characterized by international expertise as well as high awareness of ethical standards of photojournalism and documentary photography. They have pertinent contacts to photographers working worldwide and are well-known for high-level education and promotion in the field of international photojournalism. Many thanks to all of them.


Information on copyrights

"UNICEF Photo of the Year" is a UNICEF project. The intellectual property rights and rights of use to the images used on this website are reserved to the photographers.

The images available for download may only be used for media reporting purposes in relation to the project "UNICEF Photo of the Year" and for the general advancement of UNICEF and its activities. Any image used may not be altered and may only be published together with the appropriate credit to the photographer.

Any use of the images hosted on the UNICEF website other than as described in the foregoing paragraph requires the express written permission of the photographer.

All unauthorized use of the images is strictly prohibited and will lead to the appropriate legal action being taken.