CNN PH Life photographer wins international prize for 'new normal' shot

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 12) — CNN Philippines Life photographer JL Javier won a prize at the prestigious International Photography Awards for a picture showing the "new normal" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He bagged the first prize in one of the six categories under One Shot-Our Times for his photo titled "Aquarium" taken at the Zapote Public Market in Las Piñas City.

He took several photos while on assignment for CNN Philippines and CNN Philippines Life, but he chose to submit "Aquarium" to IPA because of how it simply tells the story of a regular worker. The photo shows how a vendor at the public market ingeniously coped days after the imposition of the Luzon-wide lockdown.

"I was actually pleasantly surprised to see how all the market vendors had used these plastic sheets to make makeshift barriers complete with handwritten instructions and notices as an additional safety measure," Javier told CNN Philippines.

"I feel incredibly lucky that I was at right place at the right moment to capture it. I think the photo speaks of the smart improvisations Filipinos have come up with in the quarantine to adjust to shifting safety protocols, and of course the hard, tireless work that essential workers have had to put in throughout the pandemic," he added.

The photographer revealed that he hasn't joined a lot of competition, thinking that he could not win. He said the prize from IPA is a welcome validation.

"I'm incredibly surprised and deeply elated to have won this award... I'm also just proud to have been able to share a glimpse of what the 'new normal' has meant for us here in the Philippines on an international platform," he said.

Javier and the five other category winners will bring home $500 or roughly P25,000, while the grand winner, Liz Hingley of London, will receive $2,500 or P125,000.