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May 2010

The World Press Photo Awards Days are unique in the photography industry’s calendar. Spread over a weekend in Amsterdam, the winners of the annual WPPh Contest present their work one after another to a live audience at the famous Felix Meritis building. All the while photographers and other industry figures meet to discuss pressing (and not-so-pressing) issues of the day. The event is rounded off with the official Awards Ceremony, held this year for the 53rd time. Catch both day’s events (1-2 May) right here as CPN soaks up the atmosphere and talks to some of the winners on film about their work.

Day 2

© Emmy de Graaf

His Royal Highness Prince Constantine of the Netherlands (fourth from the right on the front row), patron of the World Press Photo Foundation, with Michiel Munneke, Managing Director of World Press Photo and the winners on stage at the 2010 Awards Ceremony in Amsterdam last night.

After two days of presenting their portfolios of work it was time for the winners to celebrate with fellow photographers and enjoy the applause from the many hundreds of guests gathered at the Muziekgebouw for the Awards Ceremony of the 53rd World Press Photo Contest. The evening started with a young Dutch singer Stevie Ann who sang a song appropriately titled, Light Up. Michiel Munneke, Managing Director of World Press Photo, welcomed the guests and his Royal Highness Prince Constantine of the Netherlands, patron of the World Press Photo Foundation.

Adriaan Monshouwer interviewed the Chair of this year’s jury, Ayperi Karabuda Ecer, vice president pictures, Reuters. She described how the judging process took place and that this year some 90% of entries were eliminated in the first round. Asked about the declining state of the industry, a theme that ran through the evening, she was bullish in saying that perhaps the industry needed to re-invent itself and constantly evolve to reflect changing technologies.

The presentation of the awards followed with all the winners appearing on stage to the applause and cheers from the audience. After interviews with some of the photographers His Royal Highness praised the talent and dedication of the winners. His speech recognised that some difficult times lay ahead with the ever-changing world of the media. However, he insisted that while many more people were now able to take images, true professional talent would always rise to the top.

The evening closed with the presentation of the World Press Photo of Year for 2009 award to Italy’s Pietro Masturzo. In his address Masturzo said that he had promised the people he met in Tehran that he would do his best to tell their story. He quipped that by winning the award he felt he had done his best and fulfilled that promise.

Two-day events of whatever kind are sometimes prone to suffer from comparison, often driven simply by first-day excitement. Would such an inspirational first day overshadow the second half? Not a bit of it. Even the heavy rain on Sunday here in Amsterdam, and a little early morning bleariness from the renewing of old friendships deep into the night, couldn’t dampen the anticipation of the audience as they streamed into the Felix Meritis building earlier in the day.

Joe Petersburger from Hungary seemed to encapsulate the mood of the day – to revel in great photography before the Awards Days packed up for another year. He wowed his audience with images of the ephemeral mayfly, courting bee-eaters and diving kingfishers. His image of a diving kingfisher won him 1st prize singles in the Nature category. He demonstrated, too, that telling the story of nature can be as thrilling, and in Petersburger’s case, as humorous, as any subject you care to name.

© Joe Petersburger, Hungary, National Geographic

Joe Petersburger’s prizewinning shot of a kingfisher diving, taken using an EOS-1D Mark III with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, two Speedlite 580EX II flashes and Speedlite transmitter ST-E2.

CPN also caught up with Kent Klich from Sweden, whose image of daylight entering through a hole in the roof of a house hit by a tank shell in northern Gaza won him the General News, 1st prize singles award. The attack was part of Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli forces offensive in the winter of 2008-09 when an estimated 1,300 Palestinians were killed. Klich told CPN that he wanted to show a side of life in Gaza that isn't often presented in the western media – something more personal.

Kent Klich, Sweden, winner of the General News, 1st prize singles award.

Day 1

Out of the 26 winners’ presentations, the Sem Presser Lecture given by Eugene Richards, who stepped in at the last moment for James Nachtwey (on assignment in Thailand), the countless media interviews and café conversations, there seemed to emerge an unofficial theme on day one of the Awards Days: the personal.

Eugene Richards, whose project War is Personal, won the Contemporary Issues, 1st prize stories award. Over the space of a year he produced 15 intimate stories of Americans whose lives had been profoundly influenced by the Iraq War: the overwhelming worry of a mother, Mona Parsons, about her son Jeremy, who was about to return to his unit in Iraq; Dusty Hill, a soldier from Illinois, who lost both hands and an eye in battle but who is happy to have more time to spend with his baby daughter. This duality, this ambiguity of emotion, runs through so much of Richards’ work, from his early days reporting on black political action in Arkansas in the late Sixties (“that terrible divide”) to his depiction of violence and lives damaged by drugs in the housing projects of American cities. It’s hard to think of any other living photographer whose work reveals more about the human condition and world around us.

Pietro Masturzo, winner of the World Press Photo of the Year 2009

We talked to Laura Pannack from the UK who is busy making a name for herself as a portrait and documentary photographer with a talent for shedding a new light on everyday lives. Her pictures, especially of young people, show an intensity and engagement with her subject that has astonished audiences here.

Laura Pannack, UK, winner of the 1st prize Portraits Singles award.

And how does one shed new light on someone as famous as the American cyclist Lance Armstrong? Not easy, but Elizabeth Kreutz (Sports Features: 1st prize stories) pulled it off after spending a year documenting in great, and sometimes very personal, detail the seven-times Tour de France winner’s comeback to the sport. Determination and humour in equal measure.

Elizabeth Kreutz, USA, winner of the Sports Features, 1st prize stories award.

Michiel Munneke, director of World Press Photo, last night revealed the names of the 12 young photographers from across the globe selected to participate in the 17th annual Joop Swart Masterclass to be held in Amsterdam from 30 October to 4 November 2010. They are: Lurdes R Basoli (Spain); Maisie Crow (USA); Giulio Di Sturco (Italy); Sarah Elliott (USA); Adam Ferguson (Australia); Andrea Gjestvang (Norway); Lissette Lemus (El Salvador); Justin Maxon (USA); Dominic Nahr (Switzerland); Saiful Huq Omi (Bangladesh); Ed Ou (Canada/Taiwan) and Alvaro Ybarra Zavala (Spain).
In preparation for the masterclass the participants will produce a photo essay on this year’s theme: ‘Persistence’. The essays will be discussed during the sessions with the masters and edited into a publication.

© Emmy de Graaf

Kieran Magee (left), Head of the Professional Imaging Marketing Division at Canon Europe, presents the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year, Pietro Masturzo, with an EOS 5D Mark II camera and lenses in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam last night.

Winners Showcase

Event Showcase

Day 2

Day 1