The World’s Best News Photos from World Press Photo Contest

Posted on February 18, 2016 by UNITED PHOTO PRESS MAGAZINE

A man passing a baby through the fence at the Serbian border in Röszke, Hungary. Aug. 28, 2015. Warren Richardson won the World Press Photo of the Year award, along with first prize in singles spot news with this image. CreditWarren Richardson
The judges for the World Press Photo Contest have awarded the organization’s top prize for 2015 to a moody black-and-white image depicting the hardship of the migration crisis.

The photograph, lit only by the moon, is of a Syrian man passing a child under barbed wire in their attempt to cross the border from Serbia into Hungary.

Made by the freelance Australian photographer Warren Richardson, the image also won the contest’s spot news singles category.

Over the past three years, the World Press Photo Foundation endured a series of controversies over the contest’s selection of photo of the year, as well as disqualifications of images because of postprocessing concerns and questions about journalistic accuracy.

Francis Kohn, the jury chairman and photo director at Agence France-Presse, described Mr. Richardson’s World Press Photo of the Year image as subtle, with an “overall simplicity of just the moonlight, the barbed wire, the man and the baby.”

Mr. Richardson, 47, covered the migrant crisis last year for several months without any paid assignments. He worked on a shoestring, living with the migrants and at times going without meals.“I could feel the drama, the hardship, and also the hope,” Mr. Kohn said. “As I thought about this picture, it really grew on me day after day. The photo is not a punch in the face.”

The winning image has not been published before, Mr. Richardson said, although he had sent it, along with others from the European migrant crisis, to two photo agencies.

“This is a tough industry to be in, tough financially and on your personal life,” he said.

Mr. Richardson has worked internationally on substantive issues for more than 20 years but said he has had to, at times, turn to “celebrity-based” photography to finance more serious stories.

But the paparazzi stakeouts eventually became too discordant with his other work and he had to stop, he said.

Other 2016 winners included several photographers working for The New York Times. In total The Times received three first place awards.

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Migrants attempting to board a train in Tovarnik, Hungary, that was headed to Zagreb, Croatia. Sept. 18, 2015. (First prize, general news, stories.)Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Daniel Berehulak won first place in the daily life stories category for his photographs of the Antarctic, while Sergey Ponomarev took first place in the general news category for reporting on Europe’s migrant crisis for The Times. Mr. Berehulak also came in third in the category for his coverage of the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake.

Mauricio Lima took first place for an image of an Islamic State fighter being treated at a Kurdish hospital. Tara Todras-Whitehall was awarded third place for Sport stories for her photos of a soccer club of ebola survivors.

“These awards demonstrate the serious commitment to quality photojournalism and telling difficult stories while working in hard situations of Sergey, Daniel, Mauricio, and Tara,” said Michele McNally, the Times’ director of photography.

Mary Calvert won first place for her searing photographs of survivors of sexual abuse in the United States military. Nancy Borowick took second place for her intimate photo essay of her parents’ love as they both succumbed to cancer. David Guttenfelder came in third in the category for his photographs of North Korea. No winners were announced in the group long-term projects category.In addition, two photo essays, each published in several installments on the Lens blog, won first and second place in the long-term projects category for a single photographer.

After last year’s controversies, the World Press consulted with photographers, editors and publishers in 15 countries to produce new rules. The changes included a code of ethics for entrants and provided detailed guidelines regarding digital manipulation of images.

The Amsterdam-based organization also added an independent fact-checking process for captions and a 36-hour period for entrants whose images may have been unduly altered to explain their process.

Lars Boering, the managing director of World Press Photo, said in an interview that the new rules were successfully instituted.

The process “ran smoothly,” he said, adding that the judging process was not much different from in previous years.

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Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic crashing during the downhill race of the Alpine combined at the World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo. Feb. 15, 2015. (First prize, sports, singles.)CreditChristian Walgram
The winning image is in line with the changes of World Press photos over the last few years to being more interpretive and poetic,” he said, adding that he was speaking just for himself.

All of the winning photos were checked for caption accuracy and postprocessing violations, he said. Information on any disqualifications of images that were considered as finalists will not be released until a technical report on the contest is issued on Feb. 29. But Mr. Boering said, “We checked more photos than last year and found less, and that’s clearly a good sign.”

Along with Mr. Boering, David Campbell spent much of the last year shepherding the re-examination of the contest.

“The process clarified the purpose of the contest as one based on journalistic ethics where the pictures have to be accurate and fair,” he said. “The renewed focus for the contest and the verification processes worked, and the outcome was very satisfying from the organization’s point of view.”

“The jury is independent,” he added.


By James Estrin