The winners of the 58th annual World Press Photo have just been announced, and as you’d expect from the world’s most prestigious photojournalism contest, the photos are exceptional.
Danish photographer Mads Nissen won the grand prize for 2014 Photo of the Year, besting almost 100,000 other photos.
Winning photos include Lionel Messi at the World Cup, an orphaned rhino in Kenya, protests in Turkey and Ukraine, the Ebola outbreak, shipwrecked refugees and a fungus-controlled ant that looks like it was taken out of a horror movie.
The 2015 World Press Photo received 97,912 submissions from 5,692 photographers from 131 countries.
Of special interest to photographers is the fact that 20% of the photos submitted to the contest were disqualified due to “careless” post-processing.
The contest’s jury required all participants who reached the final stages to send original files to be reviewed, and at that stage the staggering number of ineligible photos was discovered.
World Press Photo Managing Director Lars Boering went into detail on the matter:
“Our contest rules clearly state that the content of the image should not be altered. This year’s jury was very disappointed to discover how careless some photographers had been in post-processing their files for the contest. When this meant a material addition or subtraction in the content of the image, it lead to the images being rejected from the contest.
We believe there were no attempts to deceive or to mislead, but our independent experts found anomalies in a large number of files and presented their findings to the jury. According to the contest rules, only retouching of files that conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed, and the jury is the ultimate arbiter of these standards.
It seems some photographers can’t resist the temptation to aesthetically enhance their images during post-processing either by removing small details to ‘clean up’ an image, or sometimes by excessive toning that constitutes a material change to the image. Both types of retouching clearly compromise the integrity of the image. Consequently, the jury rejected 20 percent of those entries that had reached the penultimate round of the contest and were therefore not considered for prizes.
Last year World Press Photo published a report on the consensus regarding current industry standards, as they are applied internationally. There is clearly an urgent need to take this matter further. Over the coming months, we will be engaging in further dialogue with the international photojournalistic community to explore what we can learn from all this, and how we can create a deeper understanding of issues involved in the application of post-processing standards in professional photojournalism. Together we should find common ground about these standards and find out how they are changing. We will take the lead on this as it is a great concern to World Press Photo. We want to keep the standards high.”
Prizes in the 8 themed categories went to 42 photographers from the following 17 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Denmark, Eritrea, France, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, UK and USA.
Each of the first prize winners will receive 1,500 Euros, while 2nd and 3rd prize winners will receive a Golden Eye award and a diploma.
Mads Nissen will also receive a 10,000 Euro prize for winning the premier award, as well as a camera and lens from Canon who sponsor the contest.
A travelling exhibition of the winning photos is planned to be presented in 45 countries.
World Press Photo of the Year 2014
First Prize Contemporary Issues, Singles
St. Petersburg, Russia
Jon and Alex, a gay couple, during an intimate moment.
Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia. Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination, harassment, and even violent hate-crime attacks from conservative religious and nationalistic groups.
Second Prize Contemporary Issues Category, Singles
Wei, a 19-year-old Chinese worker, wearing a face mask and a Santa hat, stands next to Christmas decorations being dried in a factory as red powder used for coloring hovers in the air. He wears six masks a day and the hat protects his hair from the red dust, which covers workers from head to toe like soot after several hours of work.
Third Prize Contemporary Issues Category, Stories
El Dorado County, California, United States
Students in a schoolyard.
Story: Several thousand people have been killed by covert U.S. drone strikes since 2004. The photographer bought his own drone, mounted a camera and traveled across the US looking for similar situations as mentioned in strike reports from Pakistan and Yemen, including weddings, funerals, and groups of people praying or exercising. He also flew his camera over settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as prisons, oil fields and the U.S.-Mexico border.
First Prize Sports Category, Singles
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Argentina player Lionel Messi comes to face the World Cup trophy during the final celebrations at Maracana Stadium. His team lost to Germany 1-0, after a goal by Mario Götze in extra time.
Second Prize Sports Category, Singles
East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA
Odell Beckham (#13) of the New York Giants makes a one-handed touchdown catch in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
First Prize General News Category, Singles
26 August, Donetsk, Ukraine
Damaged goods lie in a kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Ordinary workers, miners, teachers, pensioners, children, and elderly women and men are in the midst of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Artillery fire killed three people and wounded 10 on 26 August 2014.
Second Prize General News Category, Single
7 June, off the coast of Libya
Shipwrecked people are rescued aboard a boat 20 miles north of Libya by a frigate of the Italian navy. After hundreds of men, women and children had drowned in 2013 off the coast of Sicily and Malta, the Italian government put its navy to work under a campaign called “Mare Nostrum” rescuing refugees at sea. Only in 2014, 170,081 people were rescued and taken to Italy.
First Prize General News Category, Stories
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Medical staff at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center work to escort a man in the throes of Ebola-induced delirium back into the isolation ward from which he escaped. In a state of confusion, he emerged from the isolation ward and attempted to escape over the back wall of the complex before collapsing in a convulsive state. A complete breakdown of mental facilities is a common stage of advanced Ebola. The man pictured here died shortly after this picture was taken.
Second Prize General News Category, Stories
School uniforms belonging to three of the missing girls.
Story: In her school notebook, Hauwa Nkeki wrote a letter to her brother: “Dear Brother Nkeki, Million of greetings goes to you thousand to your friend zero to your enemies.” Hauwa is one of the nearly 300 girls who were kidnapped by the Islamic militants Boko Haram on 14 April 2014 from their school dormitory in Chibok, a remote village in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram’s name translates roughly to “Western Education is Sinful.” The group believes that girls shouldn’t be in school and boys should only learn the Koran.
For the past few years, Boko Haram has been burning villages to the ground, using forced recruitment and carrying out an ongoing insurgency. Many thousands have died and the region has been devastated. No one took much notice before the girls were kidnapped. In May 2014, a hashtag campaign (#BringOurGirlsBack) became viral on Twitter and swept the globe. Within a week, it had attracted over two million tweets. A media frenzy began and coverage of the protests was extensive. But the thing that’s been missing from most of the coverage is the girls themselves.
First Prize Nature Category, Singles
Suzhou, Anhui Province, China
A monkey being trained for circus cowers as its trainer approaches. With more than 300 roupes, Suzhou is known as the home of the Chinese circus.
Second Prize Nature Category, Singles
Lewa Downs, Northern Kenya
A group of young Samburu warriors encounter a rhino for the first time in their lives. Most people in Kenya never get the opportunity to see the wildlife that exists literally in their own backyard.
Story: organized by sophisticated, heavily armed criminal networks and fueled by heavy demand from newly minted millionaires in emerging markets, poaching is devastating the great animals of the African plains. Much needed attention has been focused on the plight of wildlife and the conflict between poachers and increasingly militarized wildlife rangers, but very little has been said about the indigenous communities on the frontlines of the poaching wars and the work that is being done to strengthen them. These communities hold the key to saving Africa’s great animals.
First Prize Nature Category, Stories
When spores of the fungus land on an ant, they penetrate its exoskeleton and enter its brain, compelling the host to leave its normal habitat on the forest floor and scale a nearby tree. Filled to bursting with fungus, the dying ant fastens itself to a leaf or another surface. Fungal stalks burst from the ant’s husk and rain spores onto ants below to begin the process again.
First Prize Spot News Category, Singles
March 12, 2014, Istanbul
A young girl is pictured after she was wounded during clashes between riot-police and protestors after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during last year’s anti-government protests. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at protestors in the capital Ankara, while in Istanbul, crowds shouting anti-government slogans lit a huge fire as they made their way to a cemetery for the burial of Berkin Elvan.
Second Prize Spot News Category, Stories
19-21 February, Kiev, Ukraine
A protester calls for medical aid for a comrade shot dead.
Story: After several months of violence, anti-government protesters remained mobilized by holding barricades in Kiev’s Independence Square, known simply as the Maidan. On Saturday, 20 February, unidentified snipers opened fire on unarmed protesters as they were advancing on Instituska Street. According to an official source, 70 protesters were shot dead. Ukrainian riot police claimed that several police officers were wounded or shot dead by snipers as well. An unofficial source said that snipers opened fire on the police and protesters at the same time in order to provoke both camps. 20 February was the bloodiest day of the Maidan protests, and two days after, President Viktor Yanukovych left the country.
First Prize Long-Term Projects
Family Love 1993-2014 – The Julie Project
28 January 1993, San Francisco, California, USA
I first met Julie on January 28, 1993. Julie, 18, stood in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel, barefoot, pants unzipped, and an 8 day-old infant in her arms. She lived in San Francisco’s SRO district, a neighborhood of soup kitchens and cheap rooms. Her room was piled with clothes, overfull ashtrays and trash. She lived with Jack, father of her first baby Rachel, and who had given her AIDS. Her first memory of her mother is getting drunk with her at 6 and then being sexually abused by her stepfather. She ran away at 14 and became drug addict at 15. Living in alleys, crack dens, and bunked with more dirty old men than she cared to count. “Rachel,” Julie said, “has given me a reason to live.”
For the next 21 years I photographed Julie Baird and her family’s complex story of poverty, AIDS, drugs, multiple homes, relationships, births, deaths, loss and reunion.
First Prize Portraits Category, Singles
Moree, New South Wales, Australia
Laurinda waits in her purple dress for the bus that will take her to Sunday School. She is among the many socially isolated young women in disadvantaged communities in Australia facing entrenched poverty, racism, trans-generational trauma, violence, addiction, and a range of other barriers to health and well-being.
Third Prize Portraits Category, Stories
Breda, The Netherlands
Cadet in the Koninklijke Militaire Academie
Story: Portraits of cadets from the most important military academies of Europe.
Second Prize Daily Life Category, Singles
Twin brothers Igor and Arthur hand out chocolates to their classmates to celebrate their ninth birthday. When they were two years old, their mother traveled to Moscow to work in the construction field and later died. They have no father. They are among thousands of children growing up without their parents in the Moldovan countryside. Young people have fled the country, leaving a dwindling elderly population and young children.
Second Prize Daily Life Category, Stories
Sarker Protick, Bangladesh
John wears his grandson’s bowler hat
Story: It was in the afternoon. I was sitting on my grandpa’s couch. The door was slightly open, and I saw light coming through, washed out between the white door and white walls. All of a sudden it all started making sense. I could relate what I was seeing with what I felt. John and Prova, my grandparents. Growing up, I found much love and care from them. They were young and strong.
As time went by, it shaped everything in its own way. Bodies took different forms and relations went distant. Grandma’s hair turned gray, the walls started peeling off and the objects were all that remained. Everything was contained into one single room. They always love the fact that I take pictures of them because then I spend more time with them, and they don’t feel lonely anymore. After Prova passed away, I try to visit more so John can talk. He tells me stories of their early life, and how they met. There are so many stories. Here, life is silent, suspended. Everything is on a wait; A wait for something that I don’t completely understand.
You can view all the 2015 winners in the full winner’s album.