14 Striking Pictures Show Power of Latin American Photographers

Scenes of life, death, joy, sorrow and everything in between shows how photography connects us all.

The Pictures of the Year Latin America (POY Latam) contest, held this year in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, recognizes photographers who come from or reside in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. Since 2011, the number of applicants for the contest has grown from several hundred to nearly 1,500.

"I think the contest really makes a difference," says Janet Jarman, the producer of this year's contest and a past winner. "Not only does it help strengthen the photographic community, it draws attention to a very important and dynamic part of the world, at a time when the media still tends to focus on other regions."

Jarman became involved with the contest because of the recognition it gives to photographers as well as the conversations it provokes about photography.

"I constantly think about the future of journalism and about how our photos can continue to have impact," she says. "Contests like this allow us to address these questions."

For her, one of the most important benefits is that the judges' conversations are now streamed live, making them available to the public.

"Every day, thousands of people were seeing this work worldwide," she said. "The fact that people could see all this debate makes this a very real experience for viewers."

Jarman believes these conversations are especially important for the public given the proliferation of photographs on the Internet. In the age of Instagram, what do we value about a photo, and why? The images from this year's contest prompt us to ask these questions.

Follow Becky Little on Twitter.