The Ranch House, an outpost in Eastern Afghanistan (2007) by Peter van Agtmael
The Ranch House, an outpost in Eastern Afghanistan (2007) by Peter van Agtmael

Peter van Agtmael wins W Eugene Smith Award

The US war photographer receives $30,000 to continue his work on American conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

Yesterday evening the 31-year-old American Magnum photographer, Peter van Agtmael, received the W Eugene Smith Award for photojournalism at a prize-giving ceremony held in NYC's School of Visual Arts.

The award, set up in the name of the late, uncompromising American photojournalist W Eugene Smith, seeks to encourage 'independent voices', in the fashion of Smith, a ground-breaking WWII photographer, who also helped expose the effects of mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan.

The New Yorker reports that van Agtmael – a Yale history graduate, who became a professional freelance photographer in 2004 - intends to spend the $30,000 grant to continue his 'Disco Night September 11' project, which documents the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As an American of the generation shouldering these wars, I feel a strong responsibility to document their cost,” van Agtmael said. “The Iraqis and Afghans that have been the most affected remain depersonalised and shadowy in our collective consciousness.” Read more about the award here, and visit van Agtmeal's great Tumblr page here. And for more photography reflecting the spirit of our age, take a look at Questions Without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII.