Joerg Colberg on the World Press Photo:
If you look through the series of winning photographs of World Press Photo (I’m talking about the main winning image here, not the many others in the various categories), pretty much every photograph expresses something very specifically seen through our, Western, eyes. Photographers, of course, do their best to take good photographs. But what we see in the news, in newspapers, magazines, and on websites, is a carefully selected number of photographs conforming to usually very specific messages.
The World Press Photo has been a crown jewel of attention in the world of photojournalism — or photography in general — for many years now, and with it, comes a large pool of criticism and questions on how it’s being run.
To the general public, it maybe nothing but an exhibit of good photography behind some of the year’s major events. But to those who are inside the world of the news industry, it’s an alternative way to get your story heard. Or as Joerg called it, ‘a carefully selected number of photographs conforming to usually very specific messages‘ if you ever make it to the finish line.
The problem is that the World Press Photo has gotten so big, it’s not just about good photography anymore, it’s editorial politics. One that has the power to bury the right photograph with the wrong point of view, for the wrong photograph with a world-press-photo-conforming point of view.
Disparity with the right angle makes a good editorial. And that angle is almost always right when you are at the public’s side, but the World Press Photo seems to be on their own territory. Even though considerable efforts are made to ensure its public-serving operation, the results, however, often signals a pattern that are less glorifying.
The World Press Foundation states the following: We believe in the power of visual journalism to inspire and shape us, so I’ll let you render your own conclusion. But to me, it comes down to this: excellence in visual journalism doesn’t always need the right story, send the right message. It inspires one way or another, so you just got to let your ego at bay and let the great image out.