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Warren Richardson wins World Press Photo of the Year 2015

Warren Richardson wins World Press Photo of the Year 2015

© Warren Richardson

February 2016

Australian freelance photojournalist Warren Richardson has won the World Press Photo of the Year 2015 for a poignant image of two migrants passing a child through a barbed wire fence, as they crossed the border from Serbia into Hungary.

The overall winning image – which also won first prize in the Spot News category – was taken on 28 August 2015 at night with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and shows a man and child seeking to cross into Hungary before a secure fence on the border was completed.

Born in Australia, and initially serving an apprenticeship as a plumber before finding his true passion in photography, Warren Richardson travelled to Europe to find work as a freelance photojournalist in Eastern Europe. He told CPN: “For the last 17 years I have spent my time living in and out of a backpack. I am not with any agency or anyone and this is the first big award I have ever won. This is the crème de la crème isn’t it! I’m still in a state of shock. I got the call from Lars Boering at World Press Photo and I thought it was a joke. I didn't believe it. And then the penny dropped – I had won the main prize. Even coming over on the plane I was thinking that it wasn’t true.”

On the winning image, he commented: “The refugee story was fast moving all the time; you had to be in the zone and there was no let up. I just had a straight 24mm lens on my EOS 5D Mark II and I used my body as a tripod as it was so dark and the shutter speed (1/5sec) was so low. I only use three primes: a 14mm, 24mm and a 40mm. That’s it. I don't believe in taking monster cameras and lenses on assignment. I need to move with the subject; that’s how I work.”

Looking forward, Warren Richardson said: “For me winning this award is so inspiring because there are so many things that I want to do as a photojournalist. I do some teaching and I would love to teach more and inspire students; this will inspire them even more. As for myself, I’m going to go to the Arctic Circle to cover climate change next. I would like to be a part of that, to slow it down a bit and absorb the story.”

© David Corfield

World Press Photo of the Year winner Warren Richardson wins 10,000 Euros and the new EOS-1D X Mark II.

Commenting on the winning image, jury chair Francis Kohn, photo director of Agence France-Presse, said: “We thought that there were many elements in that photograph that made it very, very compelling. In a way, it’s simple. It takes place at night: just a man handing a baby under barbed wire. But when you take all those elements together – the instance, the night, the barbed wire, the baby – they make a very strong photo that gets larger. There’s something, in human qualities and symbolic, that touches all of us.”

On the contest this year, Lars Boering, managing director of the World Press Photo Foundation, said: “I love the fact that Warren is a freelancer. It tells you a lot about the strength and the commitment of photographers. A freelancer committing himself to a great story can win amongst well-supported, well-known photographers that are also among the winners. But Warren got it, and I think it shows in his image that he was completely committed.”

“We knew that we had to have a very strong jury this year. It was a key year and we had a nice spread of jury members from all over the world. To see them at work was incredible; they were so committed. It was a difficult task because there was a lot of great work and for them to find such an incredible winning image, I think we can be very proud.”

“We are on the right path now. We are getting the feedback and this is the moment we can really start to move forward. The organisation is ready to build on this good result. We are transparent and open and now it is important to celebrate the winners.”

© David Corfield

For the first time, the World Press Photo of the Year press conference was held at the headquarters of sponsors Delta Lloyd in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The press conference was held at the Delta Lloyd headquarters this year. A principle sponsor, the firm's Chief Marketing Officer, Jan van Nederveen, commented: “We like to sponsor World Press Photo because we think it’s very important that it helps education and the development of professional photography all around the world. It brings photography to everybody; it makes it easily accessible and, very important, it gives freedom of speech, freedom of press.”

The 2016 jury

A group of 18 internationally recognized professionals in the fields of photojournalism and documentary photography from 16 countries – chaired this year by Francis Kohn – convened in Amsterdam in February to judge all entries. The jury members were:

  • Eliana Aponte, Colombia, photographer
  • Thomas Borberg, Denmark, photo editor-in-chief, Politiken
  • David Furst, USA, international photo editor, The New York Times
  • Huang Wen, China, director of new media development, Xinhua News Agency
  • Michaela Herold, Austria, director of photography, Der Spiegel
  • Simon Norfolk, UK, photographer
  • Prashant Panjiar, India, photographer
  • Vaughn Wallace, USA, deputy photo editor, Al Jazeera America
  • Sim Chi Yin, Singapore, photographer
  • Marguerite Schropp, USA, picture editor, Sports Illustrated
  • Tim de Waele, Belgium, photographer
  • Rosamund Kidman Cox, UK, editor
  • Thomas Peschak, Germany/South Africa, photographer
  • George Osodi, Nigeria, photographer
  • Anastasia Taylor-Lind, UK/Sweden, artist and journalist
  • Tim Clayton, Australia, photographer
  • George Steinmetz, USA, photographer
  • Narda van ‘t Veer, the Netherlands, founder UNIT C.M.A, The Ravenstijn Gallery

This year’s contest in numbers

The 2016 contest drew entries from around the world: 5,775 photographers from 128 countries submitted 82,951 images. The jury gave prizes in eight categories to 41 photographers from 21 countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, and the USA. Discover all of the winners and the awarded photos in World Press Photo’s image gallery here.

• Founded in 1955, the World Press Photo Foundation is an independent, non-profit organisation based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The foundation receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon.