BMFF 2019: Mountain Photo Essay Winner Announced

  By Kaitlyn Kerr

Image by Javier Corso from his project Matagi

The winner of the 2019 Mountain Photo Essay Competition, part of the Banff Centre Mountain Film & Book Festival, has been announced. Javier Corso was selected as the winner for his essay Matagi, which explores the culture of the traditional Japanese hunters of the same name. 

The Camera Store is very proud to sponsor this contest and congratulates Javier on his spectacular work. Matagi are traditional hunters who populate small villages in the highlands of northern Honshu, the largest island of Japan. Hunting primarily the Japanese black bear, matagi have made their living selling meat, skins, and other products since their origins in the sixteenth century. Their hunting is never in the mindset of recreation or sport, bearing only the highest respect for nature, balance and sustainability.

However, the matagi culture has fallen under threat due to a number of modern factors such as the highly industrialized and metropolitan Japan of today’s world. Differences in attitudes and values between younger and older generations contribute, as well as mass urbanization, and leave the hunters in danger of cultural extinction.

The project also received the 2018 National Geographic Society Explorer Grant. 

Javier Corso began working as a documentary photographer in 2011 and is also the founder and director of documentary agency Oak Stories. He has been published in National Geographic, Al Jazeera, and TIME Lightbox among others, and recognized internationally with awards from Prix de la Photographie Paris, International PHOTON Festival, Moscow International Foto Awards and more. 

The essay can be viewed in print as one of the free exhibitions at this year’s Banff Centre Mountain Film & Book Festival, happening October 26th through November 3rd. Tickets go on sale Thursday, August 1st.

For more information on the essay and competition, and to view the full essay, visit the BMFF website



Kaitlyn is a craft beer enthusiast and self-labelled film nerd. Suitably, she is one of the hosts of Calgary's Beers & Cameras meetup group. She also drinks too much coffee and wants to see too many places. When not helping coordinate events or exploring whatever city, town, or backroad she can, she also works as a freelance photographer and assistant.