World Press Photo Essay

Lens

Please note: Some of the photos below depict violent or graphic scenes.

World Press Photo has announced the six finalists for photo of the year, breaking a decades-long tradition of announcing the winners shortly after the judging. Although the winner has already been selected, the public announcement will come during an expanded awards ceremony on April 12th in Amsterdam. Lars Boering, the group’s managing director, hoped this new approach would lead to a television contract for the event that would bring a wider audience for photojournalism.

Three of the shortlisted images were taken by freelance photographers on assignment for The New York Times.Two by Ivor Prickett were from Mosul, while Adam Ferguson took one of a girl enlisted as a Boko Haram suicide bomber. Other finalists for the top prize include Patrick Brown of Panos Pictures, for an image of the Rohingya crisis made for Unicef; Toby Melville, of Reuters, for an image of the aftermath of a London terrorist attack; and Ronaldo Schemidt of Agence France-Presse for an image of the Venezuela crisis.

Photographers from 125 countries entered the contest and the jury selected 42 nominees in the eight categories. Fifteen of those nominees had won awards in previous World Press Photo contests.

The deliberations often centered on ethical questions over how subjects were represented, said Magdalena Herrera, the director of photography at Geo magazine and the jury chairwoman.“We were all looking for challenging approaches,” she said, “but the respect of the subjects as human beings and how suffering was portrayed was most important.”

Although the jury consisted of nine women and eight men, all six finalists for the top award were men.The judges did not know who took the images they were considering, Ms. Herrera noted, adding that even if they had known, it would not have made a difference: “We can’t choose because it’s by a woman or a man — we choose because it’s a strong and engaging image.”

“I would love to have more women in the news categories because it’s always important to have different points of view in news coverage,” she said. “But the fact is that while there are more and more women working on long-term, documentary and art photography, conflict photography and photojournalism is still mainly masculine.”

The lack of female finalists for the top prize, which traditionally goes to a news photo, could also reflect the fact that only 16 percent of this year’s entrants were women, just a slight bump from last year.

“I was disappointed that we were only 1 percent higher in women applicants, particularly because we made this a top priority and partnered with organizations of woman photographers and journalists,” Mr. Boering said. “Diversity is critically important for World Press, and we will continue to work on this.”

Daniella Zalcman, the founder of Women Photograph, said thatmembers of her organization formed editing groups to help one another with their applications. The group also assisted World Press Photo in encouraging more women to apply.World Press Photo, she added, worked hard to do outreach to African, Latin American, Asian and female photographers.

“Women can only submit the work they have done and, for people working on contract, that you have been assigned to,” she said. “If women are not assigned to the largest breaking international stories, that will not be the work they submit. Feature work is easier to do on your own or get foundation grants for.”

After past competitions sparked controversy over photo manipulation, World Press Photo now examines the raw camera files of all images that make it to the penultimate round of judging.Over the last three years, up to 20 percent of those reaching the final rounds were disqualified for excessive post processing. While the exact numbers will not be available until next month, Mr. Boering said that although there were fewer disqualifications this year, there were “still too many.”

Ms. Herrera reported that image manipulation resulted in some photos and stories being disqualified.

“Why manipulate?” she asked. “If you’re an illustrator, you’re not a photographer. We’re talking about people taking out and moving things — not toning. We are more than ever in a period of fake news, and I think it’s good that World Press applies these rules. ”


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James Estrin, the co-editor of Lens, joined The Times as a photographer in 1992 after years of freelancing for the newspaper and hundreds of other publications. @JamesEstrin

Whether entered as singles or stories, these pictures are judged in terms of their accurate, fair, and visually compelling insights about our world.

The contest is organized into categories, and judged by a jury comprising leading photojournalism professionals. The membership of the jury changes every year, and is led by a chair and supported by two secretaries who implement the rigorous judging procedures. The jury, chair, and secretaries are independent of the World Press Photo Foundation. The staff, board, and partners of the World Press Photo Foundation cannot direct the jury’s decisions.

Timeline

  • November 2017: Details about the contest, as well as the jury members' names were announced.
  • 1 December 2017: The contest website opened for entries.
  • 4 January 2018: Registration for the contest website closed at 12 midday, CET.
  • 9 January 2018: The contest website closed at 12 midday, CET.
  • 14 February 2018: Nominees were announced.
  • 12 April 2018: Nominees are invited to attend the 2018 Awards Show in Amsterdam during which the Photo of the Year and all contest winners will be announced.
  • 13 - 14 April 2018: Nominees are invited to attend the World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam.

Prizes

The prize-winning photographs are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 45 countries and is seen by more than 4 million people each year. The winning pictures are also published in the yearbook, which is available in multiple languages, and can be purchased in our store.

All nominees are brought to Amsterdam in April to receive their prize at the annual Awards Show. This takes place just before the World Press Photo Festival, an event to which winnners are invited, featuring photographer presentations, screenings and talks. Read more about the prizes.

History

The World Press Photo Contest began in 1955 and you can browse the entire collection of prize-winning photos in the timeline.

How to enter

Find out how to enter and about contest categories. Read about entry rules and code of ethics, as well as information about the judging process and verification process.

Questions can be directed via email to Micha Bruinvels, Director of Contests, at contest@worldpressphoto.org

Sign up to receive our contest update emails.

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