Fotografie, omdat het leuk is

The real value of the World Press Photo

World Press Photo is most known of its prestigious award. It’s where World Press Photo started, as spin off of the Zilveren Camera, the award for Dutch photojournalists. Through the years however World Press Photo has developed into an organization to support photojournalists and photojournalism worldwide. It organizes workshops and debates and does research on the developments in photojournalism and visual storytelling. The traveling exhibition does not only celebrate the winning photographs, it also shows a broad audience the value of photojournalism and what is going on in the world. Nevertheless, the contest and its award is the base of World Press Photo and it gives opportunities for the winning photographers. The Awards Days, held last week in Amsterdam, shows it again and this year even better than the previous years.

The Awards Days is a two days event prior to the Awards Ceremony. At the Awards Days the photojournalists can show their work. It is always inspiring. Every time I have visited the Awards Days I want to go out and shoot. Not every photographer can tell the story as good as their pictures may be for sure, even if photographers only say ‘hi’ and show their work, you get a good view of what he or she is capable of. Some photographers however give great insights of how they work and why they have covered their subjects. Most of the time the presentations show that it is not a lucky shot they have won the award with, they are good and very dedicated professionals in telling stories visually.

Watching the presentations you get surprised by true talent. Like the Swedish winner Peter Holgersson who turns out to be a math teacher in daily life. He picked up the camera only a few years ago and showed amazing images, mainly sports. It’s been a while since I have seen photos where the tilt shift technique is used the right way. Not a trick to mimic miniature, but to put the focus where you want to. So subtle, one needs to look very hard to see it’s not the usual depth of field.

Abbie Trayler-Smith presenting her project at the World Press Photo Awards Days.
Abbie Trayler-Smith presenting her project at the World Press Photo Awards Days.

Another example of a great discovery for me is Abbie Trayler-Smith, who has won with a photo of a girl dealing with obesity. As Trayler-Smith shows more photos of the project The Big O it is clear that this is a very personal project. She is actually photographing the problems she has faced herself. It is a good example of how photography not only can tell us about the subject, but about the photographer as well. There are too many great presentations to mention here, like the series of wildlife photographers Christian Ziegler and Bruno D’Amicis or the daily life by Amir Pourmand.

For sure, the presentations are interesting for the other photographers in the audience. But the presentations are also a perfect way to show potential clients who you are as a photographer. Besides photojournalists, photo editors and agencies are attending the Awards Days. During the breaks you see photographers showing their portfolio to those interested. It’s a great place to meet new people and to extend your network. For me that is actually the greatest value of the Awards Days. This year the event has a new venue with more space, so it’s even easier to talk to each other.

Sarah Caron and Matthieu Rytz during a break at the World Press Photo Awards Days
Sarah Caron and Matthieu Rytz during a break at the World Press Photo Awards Days

At the same time the new venue gives the opportunity to broaden the program, since there are more auditoriums available. World Press Photo decided to use the extra space for debates on multimedia, manipulation and safety. I am planning to write about the last two debates later on, I can already mention that the discussions were interesting and helpful. Not that they offer real solutions to the problems, it’s nevertheless good to discuss and it is an interesting expansion of the Awards Days.

In contrary to the event at daytime, the Awards Ceremony itself has been stripped down. In the past the ceremony consisted of some interviews, musical breaks and talks. This year the winners received their awards in the beginning, followed by a speech of the patron HRH Prince Constantijn and with a slide show of all the winning images in the end. That’s all and that’s all what is really needed. The official part has to be there and it’s great, but it’s more about getting inspired, informed and connected.

Disclaimer:
This is my first blog in English and since it’s not my native language, errors in grammar and/or spelling may be present. I want to improve, so please correct me.

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