PrizeHonorable Mention
City/CountryVANVES, France
Photo DateAPRIL 2016
Technical InfoNIKON 3DS
Entry Description

The State of Jharkhand, in the northeast of India, became a hell on Earth. The open-cast coal mines there took over the forest. The extraction of the "black diamond", destroyed the fauna, the flora, and upset the topography. For more than eighty years, a huge underground fire is burning exhaling enormous quantities of carbon dioxide into the air. All efforts to put out this fire have been in vain. In the suffocating hostility of this environment people work despite the many diseases due to the toxic atmosphere. The lucky ones, for a dollar a day, carry the coal in wicker baskets and load the trucks. But the majority of them, before dawn, illegally collect coal to sell it at the black market. With about 300 million Indians living without electricity, and faced with a desperate shortage of power, the Indian government plans to double its state-run coal production by 2020.

About Photographer

French-American, Valerie Leonard travels the world following her theme that she named ?Labours of Hercules" where she attempts to show with utmost respect the dignity of women and men living and working in particularly hostile environments. She takes the time to live with the people and be fully accepted before starting her work. There is no staging, with patience and respect, she waits for the right moment, the right light to tell the truth, but in terms of beauty. Far from seeking aesthetic or false compassion she intends to change the way we see a forgotten humanity.