a place for sharing all things photographic and some things not

World Press Photo Awards 2012

The world press photo awards for this year are out! (Wow POYI and WPPA are all in the same time frame) There are a grand total of 350 images that received some accolade at the awards. If you time to browse through all 350 you can pretty much get a summary of all that’s happened in the past 365 days (and more). Heres a link to the complete gallery.

If you don’t have time, the image that has been making waves throughout the blogospheres is by Samuel Aranda, and it’s an image of a woman holding an injured relative in her arms during the Arab Spring uprising. This particularly photo originated in Yemen.

World Press Photo

photo by Samuel Aranda

I think the photo is a great one, given all the contextual information that is added in the explanation of it’s selection. It holds much emotion though there are no expressions involved, it portrays the role of women in the uprising, it represent the uprisings all over the Middle East and not just in Yemen, so on and so forth. With all the added knowledge, it is a great image.

But I don’t really get WPPA selections. The one from 2009 left me just as confused and I suppose I don’t really feel that these images are visceral enough to be considered the best photojournalism from across the world. They will be run on the front page of newspapers and publicised as the best work from photojournalists in 2011 and the layman is likely to go ‘huh, that’s such a regular image’. The selection isn’t only to recognise great images, it plays a more important role in highlighting key issues to the public as these images are bound to reach public eye in one way or another.

Immediacy and visual engagement is key to this. If the public is engaged, they see the value of photojournalism and they will go on to make an impact to whatever issue has been highlighted. Perhaps then photo departments would not have to trim back on staff and manpower. There is recognition for the work that photojournalists do.

In my minds eye, one image that is visceral and also tells of a great social problem would be Kevin Carter’s infamous shot.

image by Kevin Carter

this brought the world to it’s feet. and perhaps as an outlet to which people will go to for the ‘best photojournalism’ we should also be thinking about the social capabilities of the choices of the jury.

Despite this, the image selected is still a fantastic one (I have no doubt) and it captures the story of the revolution so succinctly without any violence explicitly portrayed.

And my reservations aside, I doubt I shall ever make as great an image as was selected, so take my words with a pinch of salt! (you are of course, very welcome to form your own opinion, photographers always disagree anyway!)


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