Rory Doyle wins ZEISS Photography Award 2019

Oberkochen/Germany | 9 April 2019 | ZEISS Consumer Products

With his ongoing series ‘Delta Hill Riders’, the American photographer gives fascinating insights into Afro American cowboy culture – and purposefully breaks with stereotypes.

American photographer Rory Doyle won the fourth ZEISS Photography Award with his photo series ‘Delta Hill Riders’. Photographers from over 150 countries submitted nearly 58.000 images for this year’s contest under the theme “Seeing Beyond – The Unexpected”. Six more bodies of work were put onto the competition’s shortlist.

ZEISS Photography Award 2019
© Rory Doyle, USA, Winner, 2019 ZEISS Photography Award

Breaking the traditional image of cowboys

Since 2017, Doyle documents the life of Afro American cowboys and cowgirls in the Mississippi Delta. His pictures provide outstanding insights into this barely noticed community. An estimated quarter of all cowboys after the civil war were African Americans. “Nonetheless, the white John Wayne stereotype dominates the public perception of this culture”, Doyle explains. With his project he wants to put this community into public awareness.

His pictures are an astounding reclassification of the American cowboy myth and break with stereotypes dominating the public reception of Afro American culture up to today.

“My pictures show the pure joy of the cowboys and cowgirls. You can see their affection for their horses and community – and how they pass down their traditions among generations”, says Doyle. Especially regarding today’s political environment, he wants to show new facets of rural life in America and provide a counter narrative to the mostly negative coverage about Afro American culture.

Unexpected, up-to-date, fascinating

With his unique mix of a strong social message, reclassification of the topic and his photographic aesthetics Doyle convinced the judges of the ZEISS Photography Award: British photography experts Simon Frederick (artist, photographer, filmmaker), Shoair Mavlian (leader of Photoworks agency) and German picture editor at STERN magazine Dagmar Seeland had the difficult task to choose a winner from all the countless contributions. The winner’s pictures should not only fulfil professional and aesthetic requirements, but also meet the contest’s topic “Seeing Beyond – The Unexpected”.

“The quality of this year’s entries was very high, with many surprising and creative takes on the theme“, explains Dagmar Seeland. „Choosing a winner from such a crop of talent was never going to be easy, but ‘Delta Hill Riders’ was a clear favourite. Rory Doyle purposefully plays with and breaks the stereotypes attached to the subject of cowboys, and does this with great skill and warmth. His connection with his subjects is evident in every beautifully composed image. A fine visual storyteller, and a deserving winner.”

As winner of ZEISS Photography Award 2019, Rory Doyle will be invited to London and Oberkochen to receive his award and to talk with experts at ZEISS. Rory Doyle receives €12,000 worth of ZEISS lenses and €3,000 to cover travel costs for a photography project.

Shortlisted artists
Six more photo series were put on the shortlist for the ZEISS Photography Awards 2019:

Michela Carmazzi (Italy) I wish I were British
Ken Hermann (Denmark) Mallakhamba
Benedicte Kurzen & Sanne De Wilde (France and Belgium) Land of Ibeji
Petra Leary (New Zealand) Daily Geometry
Lara Wilde (Germany) Exposed Landscapes
Gangfeng Zhou (China) ‘Like’ and ‘Companionship’, there is no distinction

Rory Doyle’s winning photo series will be exhibited as part of the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition in Somerset House in London from 18th of April until 6th of May 2019, together with a selection from this year’s ZEISS Photography Award’s shortlist.

ZEISS Photography Award is held by ZEISS and World Photography Organisation.
More information to find at www.zeiss.com/zpa19.

Follow us on social media: @ZEISSCameraLenses (Instagram and Facebook), @ZEISSLenses (Twitter), @WorldPhotoOrg and #ZEISSPhotoAward.


Imagery, downloads and press inquiries
Images of Rory Doyle’s winning photo series ‘Delta Hill Riders’ von Rory Dole
Shortlist’s images
Press kit winner Rory Doyle (two images, profile, portrait photo)
Press kit shortlist (two images of every photo series and description)


If you are interested in more photos from each series, interviews with Rory Doyle or artists from the shortlist, please feel free to contact us at any time.

Press Contact

Christina Mayer
ZEISS Consumer Products
Tel. +49 7364 20-62074
christina .mayer @zeiss .com

Jill Cotton
World Photography Organisation
Phone +44 20 7886 3043
pr ess @worldphoto .org

ZEISS Photography Award 2019
© Rory Doyle, USA, Winner, 2019 ZEISS Photography Award

About ZEISS

ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. In the previous fiscal year, the ZEISS Group generated annual revenue totaling more than 5.8 billion euros in its four segments Industrial Quality & Research, Medical Technology, Consumer Markets and Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (status: 30 September 2018).

For its customers, ZEISS develops, produces and distributes highly innovative solutions for industrial metrology and quality assurance, microscopy solutions for the life sciences and materials research, and medical technology solutions for diagnostics and treatment in ophthalmology and microsurgery. The name ZEISS is also synonymous with the world's leading lithography optics, which are used by the chip industry to manufacture semiconductor components. There is global demand for trendsetting ZEISS brand products such as eyeglass lenses, camera lenses and binoculars.

With a portfolio aligned with future growth areas like digitalization, healthcare and Smart Production and a strong brand, ZEISS is shaping the future far beyond the optics and optoelectronics industries. The company's significant, sustainable investments in research and development lay the foundation for the success and continued expansion of ZEISS' technology and market leadership.

With approximately 30,000 employees, ZEISS is active globally in almost 50 countries with around 60 of its own sales and service companies, more than 30 production sites and around 25 development sites. Founded in 1846 in Jena, the company is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. The Carl Zeiss Foundation, one of the largest foundations in Germany committed to the promotion of science, is the sole owner of the holding company, Carl Zeiss AG.

Further information at www.zeiss.com

Consumer Products

ZEISS Consumer Products combines the company's business with camera and cine lenses, binoculars, spotting scopes and hunting optics. The unit is represented at sites in Oberkochen and Wetzlar. ZEISS Consumer Products is allocated to the Consumer Markets segment.

About the World Photography Organisation

The World Photography Organisation is a global platform for photography initiatives. Working across more than 180 countries, our aim is to raise the level of conversation around photography by celebrating the best imagery and photographers on the planet. We pride ourselves on building lasting relationships with both individual photographers as well as our industry-leading partners around the world. The World Photography Organisation hosts a year-round portfolio of events including the Sony World Photography Awards, one of the world’s leading photography competitions, and PHOTOFAIRS, international art fairs dedicated to photography with destinations in Shanghai and San Francisco. For more details see www.worldphoto.org

Press Contact

Christina Mayer
ZEISS Consumer Products
Tel. +49 7364 20-62074
christina .mayer @zeiss .com

Jill Cotton
World Photography Organisation
Phone +44 20 7886 3043
pr ess @worldphoto .org

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ZEISS Photography Award 2019
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