25 May 2014
Last updated at 16:35
Schmidt was honoured for his work Lebensmittel
German photographer Michael Schmidt has died days after his work was honoured at the VA museum in London.
The BBC understands Schmidt died on Saturday, aged 68, after an illness which prevented him from accepting the Prix Pictet in person last week.
He was honoured for his work Lebensmittel which explores the processes of the European food system.
Schmidt was was born in Berlin and continued to work in the city .
Considered one of the finest post-war German photographers, he was known for capturing Berlin’s inhabitants and its concrete landscapes in stark black and white images.
Schmidt studied painting but, in 1963, when he was 18, he joined the police and two years later began to teach himself photography.
His work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and is currently on display in an exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum until 14 June.
Schmidt’s Lebensmittel, translated as “food stuff”, won the 100,000 Swiss Franc (Â£67,000) prize on Wednesday.
His images were taken at salmon farms, bread factories, dairy farms and slaughterhouses.
Judges said his work was “an epic and hugely topical investigation into the ways in which we feed ourselves”.
The prize, founded in 2008, awards photographers’ contributions to the ongoing debate on social and environmental challenges.