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Spanish photojournalist Samuel Aranda wins World Press Photo of the Year 2011

Spanish photojournalist Samuel Aranda wins World Press Photo of the Year 2011

© Samuel Aranda/Corbis/The New York Times

February 2012

Samuel Aranda from Spain has won the World Press Photo of the Year 2011 for an image of a woman holding a wounded relative in her arms, inside a mosque used as a field hospital by demonstrators against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2011. Canon Ambassadors Brent Stirton and Paolo Pellegrin were among the winners of the category prizes.

Jury chair and vice president of photo assignments for Getty Images Aidan Sullivan said: "The winning photo shows a poignant, compassionate moment, the human consequence of an enormous event, an event that is still going on. We might never know who this woman is, cradling an injured relative, but together they become a living image of the courage of ordinary people that helped create an important chapter in the history of the Middle East."

© Michael Kooren/Hollandse Hoogte.

Jury chair Aidan Sullivan (right), vice president of photo assignments for Getty Images, being interviewed by Adriaan Monshouwer, visual strategist and consultant, at the announcement of the winners of the World Press Photo 2011 Contest in Amsterdam.

Samuel Aranda, who is represented by Corbis Images, was a relative unknown when he approached the New York Times from the region to offer his services. Daphné Anglès, European photo assignments editor at The New York Times, and one of the two (non-voting) secretaries of the Contest, told CPN that she was very proud that the image had appeared on page one of the newspaper. “It was published without a credit as it was better to work anonymously as a photographer [in Yemen at that time],” she said. “It was one of the most iconic images in the Contest.”

She was also very pleased to see that the Contest had again thrown up the names of photographers who are less well know, such as Aranda and Frenchman Rémi Ochlik, winner of General News, 1st prize stories. “It’s a great opportunity for young photographers to show their work and be singled out as being extremely talented.”

Other jury members praised the winning image. Koyo Kouoh, chief photographer Aflo Sport/Aflo Dite and president Aflo Co. Ltd., said: "It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring. But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement."

Nina Berman, a photographer at the agency Noor, said: "In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment - in moments like this."

Manoocher Deghati, regional photo manager AP for Middle East, said: "The photo is the result of a very human moment, but it also reminds us of something important, that women played a crucial part in this revolution. It is easy to portray the aggressiveness of situations like these. This image shows the tenderness that can exist within all the aggression. The violence is still there, but it shows another side."

© Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images for National Geographic magazine.

‘Rhino Wars’, Tugela Private Game Reserve, Colenso, Natal, South Africa, 9 November 2010. A female rhino in Natal, South Africa, that four months earlier survived a brutal dehorning by poachers who used a chainsaw to remove her horns and a large section of bone in this area of her skull. The female rhino survived the dehorning and has joined up with a male bull who now accompanies her. Rhino horn is now worth more than gold on the international market. South Africa alone has lost more than 400 rhino to illegal poaching incidents in 2011. The demand for Rhino horn is fueled by a wealthy Asian middle and upper class and used overwhelmingly as medication.

Canon Ambassador and Reportage by Getty Images photographer Brent Stirton won two awards – Nature, 1st prize stories (‘Rhino Wars’) and Contemporary Issues, 1st prize singles for a portrait of a sex worker in Ukraine. His fellow Ambassador and Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin won General News, 2nd prize stories for ‘Tsunami Aftermath’.

Now in its 55th year, the annual World Press Photo Contest is universally recognised as the world’s leading international contest for photojournalists, setting the standard for the profession. The judging is conducted at the World Press Photo office in Amsterdam, where all entries are presented anonymously to the jury, which discusses and debates their merits over a period of two weeks. The jury operates independently, and secretaries without voting rights safeguard a fair procedure.

The jury gave prizes in nine themed categories to 57 photographers of 24 nationalities from: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA. The contest draws entries by professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from across the world, with 5,247 photographers from 124 countries participating this year with 101,254 pictures submitted by the mid-January deadline.

The 2012 Photo Contest Jury convened in Amsterdam from 28 January to 9 February to judge the entries.


Aidan Sullivan, UK, vice president of photo assignments for Getty Images


  • Monica Allende, Spain, photo editor The Sunday Times Magazine
  • Koji Aoki, Japan, chief photographer Aflo Sport / Aflo Dite and president Aflo Co., Ltd.
  • Patrick Baz, Lebanon/France, photo manager AFP for Middle East
  • Nicole Becker, Germany, senior photo editor sport DPA
  • Al Bello, USA, chief photographer sport Getty Images for North America
  • Daniel Beltrá, Spain, conservation photographer
  • Nina Berman, USA, photographer Noor
  • Pablo Corral Vega, Ecuador, director Nuestramirada.org
  • Manoocher Deghati, France/Iran, regional photo manager AP for Middle East
  • Renata Ferri, Italy, photo editor Io Donna - Corriere della Sera and Amica - RCS MediaGroup, Italy
  • W.M. Hunt, USA, strategist at Dancing B
  • Koyo Kouoh, Cameroon, founder and artistic director Raw Material Company
  • Dana Lixenberg, the Netherlands, photographer
  • Andrei Polikanov, Russia, director of photography Russian Reporter magazine
  • Steve Pyke, UK, artist and photographer
  • Joel Sartore, USA, contributing photographer National Geographic magazine
  • Sophie Stafford, UK, editor BBC Wildlife Magazine
  • Ami Vitale, USA, photographer and filmmaker Panos Pictures/ Ripple Effect Images


  • Daphné Anglès, France/USA, European photo assignments editor The New York Times
  • Stephen Mayes, UK, managing director VII Photo Agency

Following the judging of the contest, the 2012 jury decided to give a Special Mention to an image of a Libyan National Transition Council fighter pulling Muammar Gaddafi onto a military vehicle. The still image was taken from a video shot in Sirte, Libya, 20 October 2011. Aidan Sullivan said: "The photo captures an historic moment, an image of a dictator and his demise that we otherwise would not have seen, had it not been photographed by a member of the public."

Jury member Renata Ferri said: "This was an important document for posterity, for transparency, and to understand the dynamics of how Gaddafi came to his end." The jury considers a visual document for a Special Mention when it has played an essential role in the news reporting of the year worldwide and could not have been made by a professional photographer.

Samuel Aranda, the photographer of the World Press Photo of the Year 2011, will receive the award during the Awards Ceremony in Amsterdam on 21 April 2012. The award also carries a cash prize of €10,000. In addition, sponsor Canon will donate a Canon EOS Digital SLR camera and lens kit to Aranda.

The Awards Ceremony is preceded by a two-day programme of lectures, discussions and screenings of photography. The exhibition with the award-winning images will be open to the public at the Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein in Amsterdam on Friday, 20 April 2012. The exhibition in Amsterdam is sponsored by Delta Lloyd and will be on show until 17 June. At the same, time a worldwide tour of the exhibition will be launched.

World Press Photo receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon.