Believe 2022

Again and once more I was surprised by the high standard of the works submitted to this year’s Believe theme. The year has been challenging with the pandemic and my guess is that the photographers have had more time to contemplate the real important questions and challenges concerning one’s own work in connection to the world situation. Many outstanding series were presented. Lots of deeply human themes were exposed. A certain empathy towards the hardship of being a human seemed to inspire the photographers. The theme Believe seems to have lifted up a humanistic approach which I find valuable in the harsh world that we live in. I’m pleased to see that the Helsinki Photo Festival attracts so many talented authors from all over the world. Stefan Bremer

Helphoto’s topic for 2022, “Believe” was prophetic. Civilization still faces a climate crisis and now world conflict as it never has before. Artists give meaning and context to humanity’s struggles through their work. The images from this year’s selection are broad and impressive, ranging for personal narratives to photojournalistic documents. The photographs give testimony to the hope that harmony is possible, that humans can find the faith to “Believe” in each other. Curt Richer

As Artistic Director for Helsinki Photo Festival, I believe photography can change the world and influence each aspect of life and living. Photography plays a significant role in affecting every aspect of modern society, be that education, science, politics, culture, tradition, history, communication, literacy, memory and many others.

A photographic image can convey emotions and even evoke sensory experiences in the spectator much better than verbal or written text. As such, it can be employed as a thought-provoking storytelling tool to unveil the challenges and opportunities facing humanity. The theme of the Helsinki Photo Festival 2022 – Believe – seems more than relevant in today’s world situation, considering post-pandemic issues, global political and religious battles for principles and belief systems, such as the right to abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, war and other unsettling current affairs.

All submissions we received this year reflect a context to the theme in their unique way. The powerful photography projects selected as the winners of the Open Call 2022 allow the viewers to discover different perspectives and beliefs, as well as raise awareness of the issues that affect our lives in Nordic countries and around the world. Rafael Rybczynski

As one of the judges, I am very honoured to be able to participate in the HELSINKI PHOTO FESTIVAL this year also. It was a very valuable experience for me to be able to see the wonderful works of photographers from all over the world. These works were a serious look at various problems and events that we human beings have, such as religious issues, COVID-19, ethnic issues, climate change, and LGBTQ+. Some of the works had too strong screen effects, and some of them had too many or too few works, which made me wonder. Also, there were some works that I liked very much about their content, but I felt that the title did not match it. However, there are works that describe human activities, works that are expressed based on myths and parables, and works that have the theme of going back in history, and I was fascinated by them. Anyway, even if we cannot solve the problems that we humans have now, we can find a way to be aware of them and find a solution through photographic expression. From the above meaning, I think it is very important for us to meet at the International Photo Festival and learn about the world through photography. Naoya Yoshikawa

Can we still “believe” in anything, in these times of crisis, challenges and changes? In our political systems, in our values, in a brighter future for our kids? And still, the selected artists have interpreted this year’s festival theme in many interesting and surprising ways. I truly hope that our selection will cater to a wide enough range of reflections and styles needed to visually represent such a complex concept. Moritz Neumüller, Captain, The Curator Ship

Belief is such a basic trait of survival and an underlying driver for any creative endeavour. All photographers have to believe that their images will matter and that their project is worth their effort to finish and present to an audience. But to show and share one’s own or other’s beliefs while creating a series of photographs is difficult. To be successful the photographer needs to be true to their subject and also trust their own judgement and believe in their mission. 

The submissions for the Helphoto Festival were of a high level and showed a great variety of ways to approach the theme of this year’s Open Call. Some photographers focused on their own beliefs, others had used their camera to get access to unknown communities of faith while several examined the possibilities of creating disbelief and disorienting the viewer to wake up with new insight into their own preconceived notions of truth.

I enjoy how other photographers can share their view of the world with me, while they are honest about also being on their own journey of discovery. Images like these let us walk alongside each other through this world of unknown wonder and truth, sharing the sights and the insights we come across. The photographers shown here have been successful in their mission as they help me to learn more about the world and my place in it, and I believe you will share my enjoyment looking through the HelPhoto exhibitions. Stig Marlon Weston 

‘Believe’ as a theme of 2022 edition of Helphoto seems to me a natural evolution of 2021 theme ‘Fearless’. An encouraging word that contains many layers: hope, faith, truth (especially without proofs), personal opinion, positivity, improvement, change, respect, trust. The projects submitted in the open call were embodying the concept in a huge variety of subjects and also a variety of visual languages: many projects were so good and interesting and it wasn’t easy to narrow down to the final selection. I believe variety was my criteria of selection and the best criteria to intercept and amplify the complexity of this theme and to enhance new perspectives on it. I hope these projects may be able to show different and surprising beliefs and contribute to inquiry and deepen our own ones. Emanuela Mirabelli

It was wonderful to see the diversity with which the theme of this year’s competition was met. “Believe” happened to be far more than different interpretations of faith, which might have been a natural reaction. Instead, projects reflected on hope, science, personal trauma, survival and love. It became most obvious that there are as many individual responses to this grand theme as there are photographers. Above all, we truly need to believe that we can find answers to the most pressing questions of our times and it is great to see this reflected in the arts. Alexa Becker