The winners of the World Press Photo 2015 awards have been announced, with love conquering all as the top prize goes to Danish photographer Mads Nissen. Here are some of our picks from the winning images.
Nissen, a staff photographer for the Danish daily newspaper Politiken, won the World Press Photo of the Year 2014, with this image capturing an intimate moment between Jon and Alex, a couple living in St Petersburg, Russia. It’s part of a wider series entitled Homophobia in Russia, documenting young gay people in the city, who he initially interviewed in nightclubs.
The LGBT community in Russia often face legal and social discrimination and harassment from conservative and nationalist groups as a result of recent changes in the law banning ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’, and ‘installing distorted ideas that society places an equal value on traditional and non tradition sexual relations’, as Nissen explains on his website.
Within the deep shadows and that piercing eye, it is full of desire and love – a beautiful example of Nissen’s highly emotive storytelling ability in photojournalism.
“The photo has a message about love being an answer in the context of all that is going on in the world,” says Alessia Glaviano, senior editor at Vogue and one of the judges for this year’s awards. “It is about love as a global issue, in a way that transcends homosexuality. It sends out a strong message to the world, not just about homosexuality, but about equality, about gender, about being black or white, about all of the issues related to minorities.”
This is the 58th annual World Press Photo contest, and this year 97,912 images were submitted by press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from 131 countries. The jury included industry professionals, including chair Michele McNally, director of photography and assistant managing editor of The New York Times.
First prize in the Spot News category (singles) went to Bulent Kilic from Turkey for this striking image, Instanbul Protest. Taken in March last year, the image shows a young girl after she was wounded during clashes between riot-police and protestors after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during last year’s anti-government protests.
Featured on the CR blog earlier this year, Sarker Protick’s tender series What Remains, won second prize in the Daily Life Stories category, capturing his grandparents Joh and Prova over 12 months.
“Bodies took different forms and relations went distant. Grandma’s hair turned gray, the walls started peeling off and the objects were all that remained. Everything was contained into one single room,” Protick decribes. “They always love the fact that I take pictures of them because then I spend more time with them, and they don’t feel lonely anymore. After Prova passed away, I try to visit more so John can talk. He tells me stories of their early life, and how they met. There are so many stories. Here, life is silent, suspended. Everything is on a wait; A wait for something that I don’t completely understand.”
First Prize Portraits category (singles) went to Raphaela Rosell, from Australia, for this image entitled Laurinda. The girl in the picture is waiting for the bus to Sunday School, and is among the many socially isolated young women in disadvantaged communities in Australia facing poverty, racism, trans-generational trauma, and other barriers to health and well-being.
Paolo Verzone, Italy took third prize in the Portraits category (stories), for Cadets, a series of portraits of cadets from the most important military academies of Europe.. Shown here is a cadet from the Koninklijke Militaire Academie in the Netherlands.
First prize in the Nature category (singles) went to Yongzhi Chu from China. Monkey Training for a Circus depicts a trainer in front of a cowering creature in Suzhou, known as the hoe of Chinese circus.
Åsa Sjöström from Sweden won second prize in the Daily Life Categor (singles)for Orphan Brothers, photographed in Moldova. It captures a whispered secret between twin brothers Igor and Arthur as hand out chocolates to their classmates to celebrate their 9th birthday, who are among thousands of children growing up without their parents in the Moldavian countryside.
Jérôme Sessini from France won the first prize for Spot News (stories) for Crime without Punishment, a moving, and at times uncomfortable series of images documenting the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 tragedy, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine on its way to Kuala Lumpar from Amsterdam, apparently by a Russian-made missile.
Shown above: The remains of a passenger from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17; and a bare patch in wheat field marks where a victim of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 fell after the plane was shot down.
Photographer and pilot Kacper Kowalski from Poland won the second prize in the Long Term Projects category, for Side Effects, a documentary photo project about the complicated relationship between humans and nature.
“It was shot from a paraglider some 500 feet above the ground, mainly in the area surrounding Gdynia, Poland, where I live,” Kowalski explains. “What interests me most is the answer to the question: What is the natural environment of humans? An untouched, virgin landscape? Or a landscape that has been changed, adapted to human needs? My work offers a graphic and sometimes abstract portrait of how civilization comes into being.”
Shown above: Lake near Gdynia in autumn; a garbage dump in Gdynia; and a lorryand cars on a road past the ice-covered Vistula River near the village of Kiezmark during winter. For more info on the book and exhibition visit www.anzenbergergallery.com
San Francisco-based Darcy Padilla won the first prize for Long Term Projects, with her harrowing series Family Love 1993-2014 – The Julie Project.
“I first met Julie on January 28, 1993. Julie, 18, stood in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel, barefoot, pants unzipped, and an 8 day-old infant in her arms,” Padilla describes. “She lived in San Francisco’s SRO district, a neighborhood of soup kitchens and cheap rooms. Her room was piled with clothes, overfull ashtrays and trash. She lived with Jack, father of her first baby Rachel, and who had given her AIDS. Her first memory of her mother is getting drunk with her at 6 and then being sexually abused by her stepfather. She ran away at 14 and became drug addict at 15. Living in alleys, crack dens, and bunked with more dirty old men than she cared to count. “Rachel,” Julie said, “has given me a reason to live.”. For the next 21 years I photographed Julie Baird and her family’s complex story of poverty, AIDS, drugs, multiple homes, relationships, births, deaths, loss and reunion.”
Third prize for the Daily Life category (stories) went to Turi Calafato from Italy, for her series Behind a Window Blind.
“Windows like these can be seen in almost every city in the world,” Calafato says. “The seats of this restaurant are solo, so the act of eating, usually a communal act, is reduced to a solitary activity.”
Winning second prize in the Portraits category (singles) was Liu Song from China, with Accused, showing a woman suspected of engaging in illegal sex trade is held for questioning at a police station in Chongqing.
See all the winners at worldpressphoto.org
(Images courtesy of World Press Photo, and individual photographers/agents)