World Press Photo recently announced the 2006 winners of their annual contest. I could spend hours looking through this phenomenal selection of photos that are judged for their news value and the photographers creative skill. Both the single shots and the portfolios highlight the power of photography in making news tangible. It is easy to become numb to the flashiness, quick takes, partisanship and editing of television news. Internet news overwhelms us with opportunities to click from one thing to the next without digesting much of anything. But, photographs intended to go to press stop the flow of time – allowing us to access a moment at our own pace. Political struggles, sporting events, riots, relationships, our everyday lives: they are all constructed from moments. Moments of happiness, moments of sadness, moments of loss, moments of balance, and moments of imbalance. These press photos give us the opportunity to take a closer look and try to understand the emotions of a moment.
The grand prize winner is a photo that captures a loss of a fulcrum within a juxtaposition. Many of the winners highlight juxtapositions, and this one deservedly takes top honours for doing so. In this photo the fortunate drive amongst the unfortunate in South Beirut. While the-have and the-have-not exist equally in the photo, it only serves to highlight the imbalance within the neighbourhood, the region, and the world. Many of the winning photos capture unbalanced juxtapositions including the 1st prize winner for People in the News. The photographer has done a fantastic job of capturing a moment of what seems an impossible struggle.
News photographs of this outstanding nature bring the moments to us for digestion, pondering, and reaction. I find them honestly enjoyable because there is no news anchor, editor, or producer trying to pull the strings and spin the story as it is presented to me. It is just me with the photo, and I can revisit as I see fit. I can draw my own conclusions, change my thoughts, search for what I feel to be balance and develop my own understanding of the moment and how it fits into our wider world. I encourage you to take a look at them. Take your time, pay them a few visits, drink in the juxtapositions, and put yourself in the moments.
Personal favourites and recommendations in addition to the two aforementioned:
-the wheel chairs from 3rd prize Sports Action Stories.
-a particular photo filled with grimace in the 3rd prize General News Stories forces one into feeling a part of the scene.
–3rd prize for Spot News – a revolting moment of reality (discretion advised).
–the swimmer as a part of the 2nd prize for Sports Action Stories is simply a cool shot.
–3rd prize single for Daily Life.
–the entire portfolio for 1st prize Arts & Entertainment Stories is just really cool!!
What are your favourites and/or reactions? (Would also like to hear thoughts on having the little “snap” preview images for links, because I can disable them if you’d like).