World Press Photo
This article is from 2010.
Charles Ommanney's photo of Barack Obama pausing for a moment before walking out to the podium to be sworn in as the 44th president won 2nd prize in the "People in the News Stories" category.
The List looks at this year's exhibition
Brian Donaldson casts an eye over the winning shots in the World Press Photo collection and witnesses both horror and heaven. Sometimes even captured within the same image
Every morning, you want to wake up with a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and a positive attitude in your head as you climb out from under the duvet. Luckily, the first thing you’ll read every morning won’t be the descriptions of the nominated and winning pictures from this year’s World Press Photo collection. You’d only crawl back into that bed: ‘Australian bushfires: Jennifer Wood discovers her street reduced to ruins, 8 February’; ‘Woman rushed from the scene of a suicide bombing, Kabul, Afghanistan, 15 December’; ‘Stoned to death, Somalia, 13 December’; ‘Medellin’s drug gangs: youth lies dead in the street, Colombia, 27 September.’ And so, relentlessly, the death, destruction, and global mayhem go on.
Yet, even amid the horror of carnage and conflict, there are snatches of humour which can alleviate the observer’s feelings of distress, such as David Guttenfelder’s shot from behind, of the US soldier incongruously attired in a red t-shirt and pink-patterned I Love New York boxer shorts, as the Taliban interrupts his slumber with gunfire. Many of the images refer to a group loyalty as in Robert Gauthier’s pic of the Yankees fans trying to distract an opponent en masse, or the Rainbow Gathering of teenage runaways and travelers (plus mildly concerned rodent) in New Mexico, taken by Kitra Cahana.
Some glimpse a moment of calm or isolation for an individual: British snapper Charles Ommanney beautifully caught Obama in a moment of deep reflection just prior to being sworn in as the 44th US president, while Gihan Tubbeh captured a Peruvian teenager with autism who likes to feel the sensation of touching a TV screen.
But in the main, this selection conjures up feelings of terror and hopelessness. What is the fate of the blindfolded drug dealer being marched at gunpoint into the dark as old scores are settled? What became of the two men taking shelter behind a skip as the Madagascan police fire tear gas into the air during a riot in the nation’s capital, Antananarivo? Not much more needs to be said of the women fleeing the blazing aftermath of a suicide bombing in Kabul, blood and fear plastered on her face.
It’s a terrible and painful contradiction that moments of such hell can often result in a permanent snapshot of utter beauty. To quote the recently deceased Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, ‘it’s a sad and beautiful world’.
World Press Photo, Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Road, 0131 473 2000, 3–28 Aug, free.
World Press Photo of the Year 2009
Pietro Masturzo, Italy
Women shout their dissent from a Tehran rooftop on 24 June, following Iran’s disputed presidential election. The result had been victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, but there were allegations of vote-rigging. In the ensuing weeks, violent demonstrations took place in the streets. At night, people shouted from the roofs, an echo of protests that took place during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
1st prize Spot News Singles
Adam Ferguson, Australia, VII Mentor Program for The New York Times
A woman is rushed from the scene of a suicide car bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan on 15 December. The bomb exploded near a hotel in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, home to many embassies and Western aid groups and one of the most heavily guarded areas of the city. At least eight people were killed and around 40 injured in the blast.
1st prize Spot News Stories
Walter Astrada, Argentina, Agence France-Presse
Police fire tear gas in the main avenue of Antananarivo on 16 February. Violence broke out in the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo, in February. Supporters of opposition leader Andry Rajoelina marched on government offices in a bid to oust President Marc Ravalomanana. Security forces opened fire, killing some 28 people. In the ensuing weeks, rioting broke out. In March, Ravalomanana was deposed and Rajoelina declared president.
1st prize General News Singles
Kent Klich, Sweden
Light enters through a hole in the roof of a house hit by a tank shell, in Tuffah, northern Gaza. The family that lived in the house had fled during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli attack on Gaza that began at the end of December 2008. Mohammed Shuhada Ali Ahmed, 39, had gone back to fetch clothes for his children, and was killed when the shell struck.
1st prize General News Stories
Marco Vernaschi, Italy, for Pulitzer Center
A score between small drug dealers is settled. In the end, the captive was abandoned, but not killed. Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest nations in the world, has become a hub for cocaine trafficking, as South American drug cartels seek new smuggling routes to Europe. With over 100 islands off its coast and a navy with no working boats, Guinea-Bissau offers a haven for drop-offs, storage and movement of cocaine.
2nd prize People in the News Singles
David Guttenfelder, USA, The Associated Press
US soldiers take defensive positions after receiving fire from the Taliban, in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on 11 May. Specialist Zachery Boyd was wearing ‘I Love NY’ boxer shorts when he rushed from his bunker to support fellow platoon members.
2nd prize People in the News Stories
Charles Ommanney, United Kingdom, Getty Images for Newsweek
Barack Obama pauses for a moment before walking out to the podium to be sworn in. Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, at the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on 20 January. He was the first African-American in the country’s history to hold the office.
1st prize Sports Action Singles
Gareth Copley, United Kingdom, Press Association
A ball thrown by Australian Simon Katich sends the bails flying, dismissing England batsman Jonathan Trott during the fifth Ashes cricket test match, at The Oval cricket ground in London. The Ashes, played every two years between England and Australia, is one of cricket’s most celebrated rivalries and dates back to 1882. Over the years, 64 series have been played, with Australia winning 31 and England 28. The 2009 series was won by England.
2nd prize Sports Action Singles
Pat Murphy, Ireland, Sportsfile
Jockey James Carroll looks back at the rest of the field, after his horse Lord Time took a tumble, during the opening race of the Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival in County Kildare, Ireland. The race is a particularly difficult steeplechase. Neither horse nor rider was injured.
1st prize Sports Features Singles
Robert Gauthier, USA, Los Angeles Times Magazine
Yankees fans try to distract an Angels left fielder at the Yankee Stadium on 25 October. The day saw victory for the Yankees, propelling the baseball team to the top of its division and on to the World Series. The Yankees went on to win the World Series, their 27th title.
1st prize Sports Features Stories
Elizabeth Kreutz, USA
American Lance Armstrong, 37, made his second comeback to professional cycling with the express intent of participating in the 2009 Tour de France. Armstrong won the world’s most famous cycle race for a record-breaking seven consecutive years, from 1999 to 2005. He took part in the 2009 event, coming third overall.
Armstrong waves to media after coming fifth in stage 20 of the Tour de France, which is acknowledged as the most difficult.
2nd prize Contemporary Issues Singles
Stefano De Luigi, Italy, VII Network for Le Monde Magazine
A giraffe, killed by drought, lies in a dry river bed in Wajir, northeastern Kenya. Wet-season rains in the region had failed completely for three years running. Many natural water sources had dried up and even the more resilient animals, such as elephants and giraffes were dying, alongside those more susceptible to water-shortage. The drought also caused immense suffering among nomadic pastoralists in the area, as their herds were decimated.
1st prize Contemporary Issues Stories
Eugene Richards, USA, Reportage by Getty Images/The Sunday Times Magazine/Paris Match
Nelida Bagley helps her son Jose Pequeño from his bed at the West Roxbury Veterans Medical Center in Massachusetts. He lost 40 percent of his brain when a grenade exploded in his vehicle while on patrol in Ramadi, in central Iraq. By the end of 2009, over 4,300 men and women from US military forces had been killed, and some 30,000 maimed or wounded since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq.
2nd prize Daily Life Singles
Joan Bardeletti, France, Picturetank
A family enjoys a picnic on a beach outside Maputo, in Mozambique. According to the World Bank, the number of people that can be classified as belonging to the middle classes in developing countries is on the rise, and by 2030 will have reached one billion.
1st prize Daily Life Stories
Gihan Tubbeh, Peru
Adrian, 13, has autism and lives in Lima, Peru. He is fascinated by the television. He likes touching the screen and feeling the tickle of static.
1st prize Portraits Singles
Laura Pannack, United Kingdom, Lisa Pritchard Agency for The Guardian Weekend magazine
Graham has suffered from anorexia nervosa since he was 14, after becoming infatuated with a girl in his class and trying to lose weight to attract her. By the time he was 15 he weighed just over 30 kg, but after retraining himself to eat managed to double that weight over the next six years. Now 24 and working as an actor, he sees himself as still recovering from anorexia.
2nd prize Portraits Stories
Annie van Gemert, the Netherlands
Before they reach puberty, some boys and girls can appear androgynous. The photographer took portraits of young people between the ages of six and 18 over a period of five years, with the aim of challenging viewers’ perceptions of gender definitions.
1st prize Arts and Entertainment Singles
Malick Sidibé, Mali, for The New York Times Magazine
Abdoulaye Diakibe (left) wears a Viktor & Rolf suit, Bottega Veneta shirt, Dolce & Gabbana shoes and a Burberry hat. Mamoutou Kone wears a Dries Van Noten suit and shirt, an Etro tie and Paul Smith shoes.
1st prize Arts and Entertainment Stories
Kitra Cahana, Canada, Colors magazine
The Rainbow Gathering is an annual festival that takes place around the Fourth of July holiday weekend, in a different American national park each year. Part of the point is to celebrate inclusiveness and pray for world peace. The festival attracts hundreds of teenage runaways and travelers, who are nicknamed ‘The Dirty Kids’. The 2009 Gathering was held in the Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico. A congregation at The Dirty Kids’ Camp.
1st prize Nature Singles
Joe Petersburger, Hungary, National Geographic Image Collection
A kingfisher catches a fish, closing its third eyelid. When the kingfisher dives, this lid protects the eye from damage, yet is still sufficiently transparent for the bird to follow its prey underwater.