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World Press Photo Awards Days 2012: Awards ceremony

World Press Photo Awards Days 2012: Awards ceremony

© Michael Kooren

World Press Photo Awards Days 2012

April 2012

The climax of the 2012 World Press Photo Awards Days came during an impressive and emotionally charged awards ceremony at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam on the evening of Saturday 21 April 2012. The awards evening closed with Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda (Corbis Images) receiving his award for World Press Photo of the Year 2011, but was most notable for a moment of high emotion that struck a chord with the audience...

© Michael Kooren

Paris Match writer Emilie Blachère, the girlfriend of Rémi Ochlik, pays tribute to Ochlik who was killed whilst working in Syria, on 22 February 2012, just 12 days after being told he had won the first prize in the General News (Stories) category of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest; Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, on 21 April 2012.

The awards ceremony fell almost exactly a year to the day after photojournalists Tim Hetherington, winner of World Press Photo of the Year 2007, and Chris Hondros (Getty images) died whilst working in Libya. Awards host Allan Little (BBC) began proceedings stating: “2011 produced much powerful, memorable and courageous photojournalism. We celebrate last year’s top achievers in photojournalism by honouring the winners of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest and we commemorate those who should be with us tonight, but who have paid the price for their quest for excellence.”

The first half of the awards ceremony saw Allan Little chairing a discussion with the Managing Director of World Press Photo Michiel Munneke and Aidan Sullivan (Vice President of Photo Assignments for Getty Images), who chaired the 2012 World Press Photo Contest jury. Sullivan commented: “When the [World Press Photo] exhibition goes on tour it reaches quite an extraordinary amount of people. Imagery has never really been as important as it is today – it’s an international language and has no barriers; it has an enormous effect.”

Following a multimedia show of the winning images, and the awards presentation to the winners in all the categories of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest, all but two of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest awards remained unclaimed. The first of these was collected by Paris Match writer Emilie Blachère on behalf of her boyfriend, French photographer Rémi Ochlik, who was killed in Syria on 22 February 2012, a mere 12 days after hearing he had won first prize in the first prize in the General News (Stories) category of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest.

Blachère told the audience that Ochlik was astonished he had beaten Paolo Pellegrin (Magnum Photos) to the first prize, but they hadn’t had time to celebrate Ochlik’s achievement as he departed for Syria on the day of the award announcement. Blachère said: “Today, I’ve no regrets about his going to Syria – it was really important for him to continue his work on the Arab Revolution; he was obsessed. He wanted to describe, with his pictures, the situation of the war in Syria. I was, and I am, really proud of him. It’s really important his pictures don’t die with him.” As Blachère held Ochlik’s award aloft her bravery and strength clearly touched the hundreds of guests in the hall.

© Jaap de Boer

The President and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa, Rokus van Iperen (right), addresses the audience during the awards ceremony of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest watched by Samuel Aranda (Corbis Images, left), winner of World Press Photo of the Year 2011, and Pieter Broertjes (Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the World Press Photo Foundation, middle) on stage at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam on 21 April 2012.

Following a video address by HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, royal patron of World Press Photo, the author of the World Press Photo of the Year 2011, Samuel Aranda (Corbis Images) received his award. As well as a cash prize of €10,000, Aranda received a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR camera and an EF35mm f/1.4L USM lens that was presented to him by Rokus van Iperen, the President and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Van Iperen congratulated all of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest winners and commented: “His [Aranda’s] work is truly outstanding and, with this picture, he has been able to tell a wider story of injustice and suffering through one, single moment.”

Aranda then addressed the audience and gave his opinion about photojournalists, some of whom were his friends, who have lost their lives whilst working. He stated: “They were killed doing what they choose to do; what they love to do. [Photojournalism] is not a profession for me; it’s a way of life.”