Each year, the Inge Morath Foundation, founded in memory of the famous Austrian-born Magnum Photos member, honors a woman photographer under the age of 30 with the Inge Morath Award. The foundation presents the $5,000 award in support of the completion of a long-term documentary project.
American Shannon Jensen won this year for a series of images she produced documenting refugees who had fled the Blue Nile state in Sudan in May and June 2012. In total, more than 100,000 men, women and children have walked hundreds of miles across some of Earth’s harshest terrain to seek refuge in neighboring South Sudan.
When Jensen started documenting this humanitarian crisis, she found she was unable to sell the story to international media organizations, forcing her to adopt a different approach.
In A Long Walk, Jensen photographs the “worn-down, ill-fitting and jerry-rigged shoes” these refugees used to flee Khartoum’s campaign of violence.
“To be chosen for the Inge Morath Award by a jury as diverse and accomplished as the members of Magnum is something beyond my comprehension at the moment,” Jensen tells TIME in an email. “This is not a typical documentary project, so the affirmation is particularly appreciated.”
Three years ago, she adds, “a Magnum photographer advised me to trust myself, to stop worrying about taking ‘good’ pictures. He also suggested that I think beyond just assignment photography and consider the Inge Morath Award as inspiration, so it is very rewarding to now be selected for the award with a series of understated images that are very dear to me.”
Jensen plans to use the money from the award to return to South Sudan with a writer, and “produce what I hope will be an unusual book project,” she says.
Shannon Jensen is a US photographer represented by Reportage by Getty Images. She is based in the United Kingdom and South Korea.