Friday, June 25, 2010

World Press Photo '10

I went to World Press Photo '10 - the annual exhibition of photojournalism presenting the best press photos of 2009. It is the leading international competition in press photography receiving over 100,000 photos from more than 5000 professional photographers around the world.

This is my first time attending World Press Photo. It's a unique exhibition solely dedicated to excellence in photo journalism. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Stunning photos! The images of certain photos are still etched in my mind. Almost all the photos struck a chord, some were emotionally engaging. Some photos touched me, some leapt out of the wall and grabbed me by the throat. It was intense!

On the whole, the essence of the photos was more than just a story or message. They made me think and I guess that is one of photojournalist's intentions.

While going through the exhibition gallery, I struck a conversation with a gentleman. Before I spoke to him I noticed he had a Canon 5D. Canon 5D *drool*. It is a beast of a camera. So when Robert introduced himself I wasn't surprised to hear he was a professional photographer based in UK. Robert is an experienced fashion photographer. His work has appeared in some of leading magazines/Ads. We looked at some photos together and he shared his thoughts on them. I was fascinated with the way he analysed and critiqued photos. Robert's opinion was different to mine. Any photo is open to variety of interpretation and perceptions but Robert saw aspects of photo which I never knew existed. I have no knowledge on press-photography or photojournalism, so I listened, taking in what I can and asked him questions. From his comments, I learnt and was able to appreciate the difference between conventional photography & press photography and what makes a photojournalist what he is.

Robert made several valid points on photojournalism. In conventional photography, when you strip away the tech side of things, it boils down to 2 things: subject and timing. Timing, he said, like most things in life, is paramount and probably the hardest to get right. It involves a bit of luck. In photojournalism, where "visual" reporting is the primary focus, timing is just one of the aspects. Here almost anything can be the subject as long it befits the story the journalist is covering. The aspect where a journalist differentiates from others is his ability to add a context, a nuance, which creates another voice, another layer to the story, another parallel the viewer can relate to, a visual justification providing testament to power of a moment. Creme da la creme photojournalists explore the depth of visual reporting by doing the above consistently. It's their photos we get to see in events like World Press Photo.

I am glad I took the initiative to talk to Rob. You can never go wrong talking to a Pro. Can you? An afternoon well spent :-)

Below are some of the winning photos for different categories.

From the rooftops of Tehran - World Press Photo of the year 2009

At first look, I didn't think much of this photo. This isn't the most stunning picture in the gallery. But it won. After reading the caption, I realised this was not just another photo of the Iranian post-election protest. It shows many things simultaneously - like, the kind of people protesting, they way they protest, even the time of the day. Women shouting from rooftops literally! All in one shot. Its a good picture but I wouldn't have voted it for the top prize.

Trott, run out. 5th Test. Ashes '09. Ahh!

Moments before Oath taking ceremony.

A jewish man throws wine at Palestine women, Hebron

Shelling at Gaza

Check out 2010 Winners gallery here.