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Review: The 57th World Press Photo Contest

Jon and Alex by Mads Nissen - Contemporary Issues, first prize. 

2014 saw the fatal outbreak of Ebola, Germany’s triumph in the World Cup, the result of the Scottish referendum, the death of Robin Williams, as well as the conflict in the Ukraine and the rapid rise of ISIS. But as we stumble past the halfway point of 2015 these events seem to be in the distant past. However, the World Photo Press exhibition captures 2014 in print, presenting the best photographs from across the world.

The World Press Photo is an independent, non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands. This exhibition displays the winning photographs from the 57th World Press Photo contest. The organisation’s aim, as stated on their website, is to “inspire understanding through quality photojournalism.” And it certainly does! The winning photographers are from all over the world, including countries such as Iran, Bangladesh and Denmark. They capture not only the biggest events from 2014 (including, the conflict in Gaza and the MH17 Malaysia plane crash) but also uncover smaller unknown stories.  Every photograph has a description that explains the context, so there is no room for misunderstanding.

Rescue Operation by Massimo Sestini - General News, second prize.

The collection focuses mostly on people, drawing attention to their interaction with their environment in the world. The contest is split into different sections such as daily life, nature, spot news, general news and sport, encompassing a wide range of topical issues. The high standard of photography meant it is difficult to decipher 1st from 3rd place. All of the photographs are breath taking, whether they are disturbing or heart warming. As a heads up, the exhibition shows the world as it is – in some cases it’s pretty bleak – so visit on a day when you’re not feeling too blue.

Istanbul Protest by Bulent Kilic - Spot News, first prize.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the winner of the long-term projects category: Family Love 1993-2014. San Francisco based photographer, Darcy Padilla conducted an eighteen year long project, capturing the tragic, turbulent life of Julie Baird. Padilla documented Julie’s battle with drugs, HIV, her family and her relationships. Although Padilla notes that Julie’s life is not unique. It is one example of many, where people are struggling to survive through poverty. The story is captured in black and white. The balance in light highlights the subject, calling attention to their fragility and despair. It is a remarkable insight into an unsettled world that many families must live in.

Monkey Training for a Circus by Yongzhi Chu - Nature, first prize. 

Other masterpieces exhibited include Massimo Sestini’s shot of a refugee boat. His use of sharpness makes every single face identifiable amidst the deep blue ocean. As well as Mads Nissen’s striking photograph of an intimate homosexual couple in Russia. These are just two of the many world-class photographs that are on show at this exhibition.

Despite some people’s concerns over the ethics of photojournalism, this exhibition offers an important insight into the world. It helps us to remember our close history and communicate with the rest of the world.

The winners of the World Press Photo contest are on display until 28th June at the Willy-Brandt-Haus. Admission is free. 

By Bonny Herington

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