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The Challenging Words of Patrick Brown: In response to receiving a First Prize in the general news singles category World Press Photo April 24, 2018

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Photo Patrick Brown

I’d like to thank the World Press Photo for this tremendous honour a 1st prize in the general news single category. I’d like to salute my fellow nominees; whose work is a testimony to their dedication to the craft of storytelling, I’m very proud to be sharing the bench with them tonight. Ivor PrickettAdam Ferguson, Toby Melville and huge congratulations to Ronaldo Schemidt.

Thank you also to my editors at UNICEF - Christine Nesbitt Hills and Jean-jacques Simon - for trusting me to follow my journalistic instincts; without the access that UNICEF gave me this photograph, and many others I took in Bangladesh, would not exist.

When I was told that this picture had been nominated for the Photo of the Year I wont lie to you I found it very challenging. I submitted this image as part of a body of work and didn’t expect it to be selected individually. The possibility of receiving an accolade for an image of dead children didn’t sit well with me. To reconcile this, I’d like to tell you about the context of this photograph and how it was taken.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the crackdown in Rakhine State, Burma, “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. There is nothing clean about Ethnic cleansing – up close and on the ground, it’s murder, it’s rape, it’s people being slaughtered in the most systematic and barbaric way. It’s people – like the ones in this photograph. While euphemisms and diplomatic language can obscure the true horror inflicted by oppressive regimes, photography cuts through all the cold clinical terminology. Through photographs we’re forced to confront the cruel reality of what ethnic cleansing really looks like.

I was in Bangladesh on the 28th of September when I received a phone call from a colleague, telling me that a boat carrying Rohingya refugees from Burma had capsized. It was early evening but the sky was already black due to a massive thunderstorm rolling in off the Bay of Bengal. The fury of the storm was like nothing I’d experienced before and all I could think of, if you’re willing to take on the Bay of Bengal in monsoon season, what you’re running from must be truly horrific.

In this case, 15 people drowned. When I arrived at the scene, there were cars blocking the road, there were police, local and international press, and the fisherman who had helped carry the bodies up to the coast road. Amid this chaos, I looked at the bodies lit by car headlights and noticed how the rain had gently molded the fabric that covered them to the point you could make out their individual features. The resulting photograph captures a moment of stillness, which is ultimately a photograph of ethnic cleansing.

This image SHOULD upset you. It’s not the photograph itself that’s horrific; it’s what it illustrates. These children have names, a mother, a father, brothers and sisters, grandparents… They fled their home in fear, braving the Bay of Bengal in the middle of a monsoon storm. The day after this picture was taken, I photographed survivors burying them in a mass grave. Tragically, they’re just a small part of a much, much bigger story.

I’ve worked in Asia for nearly 20 years and have spent a large portion of that time documenting the conflict between the government of Burma and its ethnic minorities – not just the Rohingya, but also the Kachin, Kayin, Shan and others. They all have horror stories of war and persecution. In northern Shan and Kachin states today, there’s a full-scale war, with roughly 100,000 people displaced by fighting and the Burmese military has denied access to humanitarian organizations. This type of persecution and the attempt to prevent the story from being told is nothing new in Burma.

What’s new is the sheer scale of the crackdown in Rakhine State – its comparable to what took place in Rwanda or the Bosnian civil war. In a story this big, I believe my role as a photographer is to bear witness and to try and show the reality – no matter how gruesome, or sad, or how upsetting it may be.

By honouring all the photographers in the room tonight for their commitment to transformative storytelling, the World Press Photo helps us as photographers to draw worldwide attention to the often very tragic subjects that we document. For this, I am truly grateful.

World Press, thank you for this incredible honour.

 

Opening Night World Press Awards Perth Museum Photos Bohdan Warchomij July 4, 2015

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World Press Photo Perth: Western Australian Museum Saturday4-Sunday 26 July June 23, 2015

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It is nice to welcome back World Press Photo to Perth after a long absence. One of the inspirational sources of photojournalism in the world, it promotes excellence in the press rather than mediocrity, and accuracy and information rather than censorship.

One of the highlights of the exhibition will be the attendance of Australian photographer Raphaela Rosella from Oculi, who won the First Prize Portraits Category, Singles at World Press Photo 15.

Laurinda (a young Kamilaroi girl from Moree NSW) waits outside her home for the bus that takes her to Sunday School. Photo Raphaela Rosella OCULI

World Press Awards: 2015 March 3, 2015

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Raphaela Rosella, an Australian photographer of Oculi agency, won the First Prize in the Portraits Category, Singles, of the 2015 World Press Photo contest with this portrait of Laurinda waiting in her purple dress for the bus that will take her to Sunday school in Moree, New South Wales, Australia, in this picture released by the World Press Photo organisation on February 12, 2015. (Photo by Raphaela Rosella/Reuters/Oculi/World Press Photo)

World Press Contest Winners 2015 February 13, 2015

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2015 PHOTO CONTEST

The World Press Photo of the Year 2014 is a picture by Danish photographer Mads Nissen.

An international jury of leading professionals in the field of photojournalism worldwide began judging the entries at the World Press Photo office in Amsterdam on 1 February headed by jury chair Michele McNally, director of photography and assistant managing editor of The New York Times.

To see the winners in other categories go to www.worldpressphoto.org

Mads Nissen photo of Jon 21 and Alex 25, a gay couple in St Petersburg who face legal and social discrimination

Apart from the important winning photograph by Mads Nissen the photos that had the strongest impact on me were Jerome Sassini’s images from Grabovo Ukraine of the MH17 tragedy. On a day when Vladimir Putin has frozen territory in Ukraine during the Minsk Peace Talks these photos are a a grim historical reminder of the evil of politics and  the evil of war.

Jerome Sassini

World Press Photographer of the Year John Stanmeyer February 15, 2014

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JOHN STANMEYER

photographer, USA

John Stanmeyer, born in Illinois, is a founder member of the VII photo agency. He is this year’s winner of the first prize in the World Press photo contest.

Over the last decade, Stanmeyer has worked nearly exclusively with National Geographic, producing more than 12 stories for the magazine. Between 1998 and 2008, John was a contract photographer for Time magazine, during which time he photographed the war in Afghanistan, the fight for independence in East Timor, the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, and other significant world news events. His years with Time resulted in 18 covers of the magazine.

Stanmeyer has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the prestigious Robert Capa award (Overseas Press Club), Magazine Photographer of the Year (POYi), and numerous World Press, Picture of the Year and NPPA awards. In 2008, his National Geographic cover story on global malaria received a National Magazine Award, and in 2012 he was nominated for an Emmy with the VII documentary film series, ‘Starved for Attention’.

Stanmeyer lives with this wife, Anastasia Stanmeyer (editor of Berkshire Magazine), and their three children on a farm in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

May 27, 2013

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SPIEGEL ONLINE

Even top news photographers have their work digitally enhanced these days. Mounting competition in the market for news images is forcing photo-journalists to make their output as dramatic as possible. But where are the limits of cosmetic improvement?

 

The photo looks like a still from a movie. A funeral procession is passing through a narrow street in Gaza. There are gray walls on both sides, and between them, looking almost choreographed, are the mourners, a crowd of angry men stretching into the distance. They are carrying the bodies of two children, Suhaib and Mohammed, and, further back, the body of their father, Fuad Hijazi. They were killed when an Israeli bomb struck their apartment building.

 

ANZEIGE

The image conveys a beauty that seems almost inappropriate. The way the despairing faces of the men and the innocent faces of the dead children reflect the light — it seems almost too perfect to be true.

So is it?

A week ago Paul Hansen, who took the photo for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, received the World Press Photo Award 2013 for the image. At the awards ceremony in Amsterdam, he talked about how the photo came about. He was fighting back tears as he described what it was like to visit the surviving family members once again, months after the funeral.

But one thing Hansen didn’t want to talk about is how much the power of this image is the result of skillful editing. He had intended to bring along the RAW file, which is essentially the photo’s digital original, for comparison purposes — but he claims that he forgot to bring it. Hansen does not want to participate in the discussion, which he feels is unseemly, but that doesn’t stop the discussion from taking place.

Pro-Israeli bloggers and journalists, in particular, had accused him of manipulation and embellishment. Other photographers have also been critical of the photo’s selection for the World Press Award. Some fear that the boundaries are becoming blurred between journalistic photography, on the one hand, and artistic and commercial image design, on the other. Industry publications like Freelens Magazin have also voiced criticism of the trend.

Starting this Thursday, Hansen’s photo and many other World Press Photo Award winners will be on display at the Gruner+Jahr publishing house headquarters in Hamburg. The exhibition will give the general public the chance to decide whether modern photography is indeed aestheticizing horror.

Hansen himself says that the magical light in that Gaza alley, which so effectively frames the mourners in his photo, was simply there, and that it was the kind of light that a photographer only captures once every few years — and not something that was created after the fact on a computer.

A Digital Darkroom Revolution

Nowadays programs like Photoshop make it easier than ever to edit photos once they have been taken. In addition to making it possible to clearly manipulate a photo, they provide the tools to almost effortlessly remove, add or modify content. The computer perfects and expands the possibilities of what was once done in the darkroom to enhance the effectiveness of a photo during development and printing.

The procedure is called “post-processing,” and Claudio Palmisano is a master at it. He works with two colleagues in a garage-sized space on a quiet street in Rome. His company is called 10b Photography, named after the street address of the studio. The old Kodak slogan, “You press the button. We do the rest” is on the door, but one word has been added: “better.” It isn’t just an advertising pitch, but can also be interpreted as a suggestion that what photos show has always been more than “reality.” “It used to be a chemical process, and now it’s a mathematical one,” says Palmisano. Today people can use their computers to adjust contrast and saturation, elements that were once determined by the film and its development.

Photographers upload 50 to 100 images a day onto 10b’s server. Palmisano begins by making automatic corrections to the photos on his computer, a process in which he hardly pays any attention to the image itself.

Then the detailed work begins. He darkens areas along the upper edge of one image to draw the viewer’s eye toward the lower part. In a photo depicting a soldier in the foreground, he carefully and manually enhances the gun. In another photo, he makes the shocking and luminous red of a bleeding wound seem less glaring. The supposed original, he says, would simply not have corresponded to our expectations of what blood looks like.

Moving Pixels Oversteps the Mark

What distinguishes Palmisano is not just the virtuosity with which he uses the software, but also perhaps the fact that he is aware of how sensitive his work is.

Francesco Zizola, a photographer who co-founded 10b with Palmisano six years ago, says: “The difference between photojournalism and photography is ethics. We are good at trying out possibilities without overstepping limits.”

For 10b, there is a clear definition of what constitutes impermissible manipulation of a journalistic photo. It includes, for example, moving around pixels within a photo. But the choice of development techniques, as well as modifying contrast, saturation and density, are all allowed in principle.

“There are no ‘correct’ colors,” says Palmisano. “It’s all relative.” In 2008, his partner Zizola won a World Press Photo prize with a photo of a Colombian refugee camp with a double rainbow overhead. The colors were so intensified through editing that the scene looks almost surreal. This is allowed, says Palmisano. What isn’t permitted, he adds, is to change the relationship among the colors and to turn, for example, the green house in the photo into a red one.

News agencies, in particular, place significantly narrower limits on what is permissible, but they too do not completely prohibit post-processing. The Associated Press (AP), for example, essentially allows only the kinds of enhancements that were once commonplace in the darkroom, and that “restore the authentic nature of the photograph,” as the agency states a little enigmatically.

“Changing the sky excessively can be problematic,” says AP Vice President Santiago Lyon, who chaired the World Press jury this year. On the other hand, “there is no absolute rule in terms of enhancement,” Lyon notes. “The jury is made up of industry leaders and their decisions can be right even if they don’t exactly conform to AP’s standards,” he adds.

Photos Retain Mystique of Being Original Documents

“You can compare the possibilities of using modern photo enhancement with the use of adjectives in a written article,” says Lyon. “Some reporters exaggerate in their descriptions of events.” Photos, on the other hand, still have the mystique of being objective documents, which can depict reality in genuine form and without any subjective interpretation. Paradoxically, this is only heightened through digitization.

 

Suddenly the unlimited possibilities for changing an image are offset by the faith in the existence of an unadulterated original. A digital photo can be stored as a raw file, one that makes do without all the interpretations, changes and compromises that are necessary when a camera stored an image in a standard small file format. The World Press Photo Award reserves the right to check this raw file if the jury suspects that a submitted photo was excessively post-processed. But it did not avail itself of this option in the case of the award-winning Gaza photo, or in that of another winner, American photographer Micah Albert, with his photo of a garbage collector in Kenya.

“The discussion on enhancement in photojournalism is overdue,” says Albert. “As a communicator, I want to know the boundaries.”

But a raw file could also be manipulated. Besides, is the image it depicts reality? Or does it have to be interpreted first, like an undeveloped roll of film? The answer is clear for the image processers at 10b. “It isn’t a question of whether this information is post-processed,” says Palmisano, “but merely of how and why.”

 

World Press Winners and Robertus Pudyanto March 18, 2013

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Robertus Pudyanto Photo in Tanah Datar, Indonesia – January 12 : Pacu Jawi jockey spurrs his animals on in the race

The World Press Awards are with us again and the winner of the sports section of the awards Dr. Wei Seng Chen is a Malaysian freelance photographer. He takes on assignments for local and foreign photo agencies or event management companies, shooting mostly sports events and tournaments.  Dr. Chen began experimenting with photography at the age of 13. He joined his school’s photography club in 1975 and learned all about photography, from shooting and processing film to making prints in the darkroom. However, he had to take a break from photography when he enrolled in medical school.Here is his winning photo:

Photo Wei Seng Chen

There is an increasing trend for part time photographers and keen amateurs to involve themselves in professional media organisations. I am waiting for the day when an iPhone photo wins a World Press Award.The genre is already well established in photojournalism as a methodology for story telling.

Above and below  are a series of photos submitted to Metaphor Images from a similar event that were not submitted to World Photo but are perhaps just as compelling from Indonesian photographer Robertus Pudyanto:

Photo Robertus Pudyanto: Photo Robertus Pudyanto: Tanah Datar, Indonesia – January 12 : Pacu Jawi participants collide while racing.

Tim Hetherington Grant World Press November 5, 2012

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The application process is open to all professional photographers who have participated in a World Press Photo competition between 2008 and 2012. The grant is intended to support a photographer in completing an existing project on a human rights theme. Read more about the 2012 grant in the press release.

Human Rights Watch, World Press’s partner in the Tim Hetherington Grant, defines ‘human rights’ in the following way: “At the very heart of a human rights issue or theme lies the critical factor of responsibility – some government, rebel group, institution, or individual is responsible for what is happening.”

Timeline for applications

To apply for the grant, download the PDF application form, fill it in, and email it to grants@worldpressphoto.org.

 

Femen Activist Inna Shevchenko portrait by Guillaume Herbaut receives award at World Press Photo July 2, 2012

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I have been following the activism of Femen in Ukraine on the internet with some interest and Guillaume Herbaut’s work for the Institute for Artist Management in Ukraine for some time.  The two subjects coincided at the last World Press Awards when a photo of Inna Shevchenko , one of Femen’s activists received a World Press  award that will be controversial because of the nudity. Inna has a wreathe of flowers tattooed on her body. Her salute in the photo is a militant act and as Herbaut explains to the British Journal of Photography it is an act that has defined Femen and their role in Ukrainian political life. Unmistakeably their protest is a political one. It has given them media power and credibility and impetus in their battle against sexism and political opportunism in Ukraine and Russia. The activists have been arrested many times.

“Guillaume Herbaut‘s work, called The New Amazons, has followed the Femen protest group. “Their goal is to fight sexual tourism and to educate women to be more assertive and powerful. They use their bodies as a weapon,” writes Herbaut on his site, recording the words of one of his subject: “At the beginning, we were so naive and we manifested with balloons shouting some slogans, but nobody listened us. But one day, we don’t know why, one of us, Kseniya Chatchko, undressed, and we saw that the people, the press started to see us and to listen to us.”

Speaking to BJP, Herbaut said: “I think what’s interesting is the fact that the naked body has become a militant act. We’re seeing a lot more political movements that use nakedness to expose their opinions.”

Herbaut’s image could, however, prove controversial for World Press Photo, Daphné Anglès, the award’s secretary, told BJP. “There are some countries where the exhibition won’t be able to go because of that specific image,” she says. Herbaut half expected this to happen. “I was very surprised when my agency told me that certain markets couldn’t publish these photos because the women depicted were naked. The US is one of these markets. I’m astonished, maybe because I’m French. For us, there are no issues with these kind of images. It’s very natural. There’s nothing shocking. I think it will be interesting to see how different countries react to that image.”"

Read more in the British Journal of Photography and on the Institute of Artist Management website.