March 4th, 2015

World Press Photo Disqualifies Controversial Prize Winner

After questions over whether Giovanni Troilo staged this image, new questions arise about his "Dark Heart of Europe" project.

After questions over whether Giovanni Troilo staged this image, new questions arise about his “Dark Heart of Europe” project.

World Press Photo has revoked a prize awarded last month to photographer Giovanni Troilo, on the grounds that Troilo’s entry “was not in compliance with the entry rules,” according to an announcement on the World Press Photo web site. (more…)

March 3rd, 2015

Controversial World Press Photo Winner Under New Scrutiny Today (Update)

After questions over whether Giovanni Troilo staged this image, new questions arise about his "Dark Heart of Europe" project.

© Giovanni Troilo. After questions over whether Troilo staged this image, new questions arise about the integrity of his “Dark Heart of Europe” project.

Photographer Giovanni Troilo’s controversial prize-winning entry to the World Press Photo competition is under new scrutiny today because of reports that Troilo did not shoot one of the images where he said he shot it, according to Lars Boering, Managing Director of World Press Photo.

Troilo had said his project, “The Dark Heart of Europe,” winner of 1st prize stories in the Contemporary Issues category, was shot in Charleroi, a town near Brussels.

But a journalist investigating the project in the wake of controversy it has generated has reported that one of the images was shot in Brussels, which is 50 km from Carhleroi.

“There’s new information out now that one photo was shot 50 kilometers away from Charleroi,” Boering says. Bruno Stevens, a Belgian photojournalist,  announced the finding on his Facebook page.

“Of course this is going to be looked at again,” says Boering, who has been on the hot seat for several days over the controversy surrounding the Troilo project and prize. (more…)

February 18th, 2015

Should Photogs Disqualified from World Press Be Banned? Org Says No, For Now

In the days since World Press Photo announced that 20 percent of the photographs they considered in the final rounds of the competition were disqualified for manipulation, many in the industry have called for WPP to release the offending images and make their standards more clear. In comments by jurors, WPP administrators and photographers published on the New York Times Lens Blog, 2015 competition jury chair and New York Times director of photography Michelle McNally noted that the manipulations led “many in the jury to feel we were being cheated, that they were being lied to.” World Press Photo jury secretary David Campbell notes that newspaper and wire service photographers get fired when they are caught manipulating news photos: “Narciso Contreras and Miguel Tova have lost their jobs because of manipulations that crossed the one line we can draw.”

These reactions beg the question: If World Press Photo is a reflection of the photojournalism industry, should photographers who attempted to deceive jurors—and the public—be banned from the competition? After all, newspaper and wire services have fired photographers who manipulated images.

According to World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering, the organization is not currently planning to ban any photographers who submitted manipulated images to the competition. “I might discuss that with the board and the team that is organizing the competition,” he told PDN, adding that “a lot” of the disqualified photos were cases of “clumsy” Photoshop use rather than blatant attempts to deceive competition judges.

World Press Photo rules state: “The content of an image must not be altered. Only retouching that conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed.” In her statement on Lens, McNally clarified that the manipulation the jurors disqualified included “removing or adding information to the image, for example, like toning that rendered some parts so black that entire objects disappeared from the frame. The jury—which was flexible about toning, given industry standards — could not accept processing that blatantly added or removed elements of the picture.”

The organization is very aware that manipulation accusations can deal huge blows to the careers of photojournalists, Boering says, which is why they are keeping confidential the names of photographers who were disqualified—despite calls for more transparency. “If people get caught by agencies, then they are thrown out, and I know it’s difficult for these people to get back to work or find other agencies, so that’s a serious thing,” Boering explains. “If an agency makes that decision it’s up to them because that’s their rules. We organize a competition; we care a lot about photojournalism and visual journalism, but…I don’t think we should be the ones that decide on the careers of photographers, and whether they should be ruled out of competitions with others or whether they should lose their job with their agency.”

“We’re not going to put their names out unless we think it’s really severe what they’ve done,” Boering adds. “It might be that we think about talking to them about the way they go about it.”

Boering said WPP had today sent notices to the disqualified photographers presenting their evidence and explaining their decisions. He says the organizations has received one or two responses from photographers accepting the decision.

It’s more important to WPP that this controversy sends a message to photojournalists and the industry, sparks discussion and, hopefully, a resolution, Boering says. “Technology makes a lot of things possible, but it makes it possible to find things…. The technicians that do our research, they’ve showed me several examples of things that you can do and I think it’s amazing.”

Boering says he’s heard from people at agencies and news organizations, and others in the photo industry in the past few days. World Press Photo is planning “several debates” starting on the day of the awards presentation, that he hopes will help the “find common ground with the industry to get it right.”

Related: Mads Nissen Wins World Press Photo of the Year 2014 Prize
AP Cuts Ties with Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

October 15th, 2014

Attention Photojournalists: Upcoming Grant and Prize Deadlines

Looking for support for your visual journalism? Take note of these calls for entries.

Tim Hetherington Grant
A joint initiative of World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch, the Tim Hetherington Grant is a 20,000 euro prize awarded annually to a visual journalist. The grant is intended to help photographers and filmmakers finish ongoing projects on a human rights theme. The deadline to enter is October 31. The grant was created in memory of Tim Hetherington, who was killed in April 2011 while covering fighting in Misrata, Libya. Past winners of this juried prize have included Olivier Jobard and Fernando Moleres.

Photo Philanthropy Activist Awards
PhotoPhilanthropy, which connects photographers with nonprofits to drive action for social change, is now accepting entries in its 2014 Activist Awards, open to all professional and emerging photographers who have collaborated with a nonprofit organization on a photo project. The grand prize for a professional photographer is $15,000. A prize of $5,000 will be awarded to an emerging photographer. The deadline is December 3, 2014. The jury will be announced later this month.

Open Society Moving Walls
Open Society Foundations is now accepting proposals for Moving Walls 2015, an exhibition which will open June 2015 at the Open Society Foundations’ offices in New York City. The application deadline is November 18. Moving Walls highlights long-term photo-based documentary projects addressing human rights or social justice issues in an area where Open Society is active. Open Society covers the cost of printing, travel to attend the opening, and return shipment of photos, and provides a $2,500 participation fee.

Related Articles

Olivier Jobard Wins 2013 Tim Hetherington Grant
Liz Hingley Wins PhotoPhilanthropy Prize

August 8th, 2014

Shark Peak: When Anti-Cliché Photos Turn Out To Be Clichés

Tristan-McConnell-FBMogadishu is to sharks carried on shoulders as Havana is to vintage sedans: No photographer who goes to that location can resist photographing the same photogenic subjects.

Tristan McConnell (@t_mcconnell), a Nairobi-based foreign correspondent for GlobalPost, Monocle and the London Times, posted a comment on his Facebook page the other day that pointed out the difficulty, in today’s image-saturated world, of finding a photo subject that hasn’t already been widely seen. He posted the comment, along with examples he’s collected, in an album titled “Mogadishu Fish on the Head Photographic Meme.”

McConnell, who has worked with many photographers and–when tight budgets require it– also shoots photos for his own stories, suggests that perhaps all these similar shots were the result of photographers struggling to avoid a different cliché: The African-capital-as-disaster cliché.

McConnell writes: “The image has to say ‘decades of conflict/failed state’ but in an oblique way, so you head to seaside Hamar Weyne, the old, war-damaged colonial neighborhood.”

He continues, “And then you see it. The perfect shot: A fisherman strides towards you with the catch of the day, a fish so big it’s draped across his head and shoulders. Behind him is the wreckage of the city. It’s perfect!

“You press the shutter. Done. Trouble is every other photographer has done it, too.”

Among the dozen examples McConnell shows are Feisal Omar’s photo which won 1st prize in the 2011 World Press Photo competition’s Daily Life/singles category,

© Feisal Omar

© Feisal Omar

and Michelle Shephard’s 2011 photo published in the Toronto Star:

© Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star

© Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star

He could also have included this photo by an AFP/Getty photographer, published last year in the Daily Mail .

© AFP/Getty Images

© AFP/Getty Images

Or Jan Grarup’s famous image, published as part of a story in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin (as well as in PDN.)

© Jan Grarup

© Jan Grarup

This put us in mind of a familiar dilemma: Is it better for  photographers to ignore other photographers’ work — to insure they’re never imitating anyone, and remain happily unaware that the what they’ve just photographed has been photographed before? Or, as many clients suggest, should they try to see as much work as they can, either to avoid duplicating what’s been done, or to know the standards they need to meet if they want to find a new view of a subject that others have already discovered?

March 24th, 2014

World Press Photo Multimedia 2014 Honors New York Times, National Film Board of Canada, Marco Casino

HighriseThe National Film Board of Canada and The New York Times share first prize for Interactive Documentary in the World Press Photo 2014 Multimedia contest for their collaborative multimedia piece, “A Short History of the Highrise.” The World Press Multimedia awards, now in their fourth year, honor documentary work in three categories: interactive documentaries, short and long features. The winners were announced this morning in Amsterdam.

“A Short History of the Highrise” tells the story of vertical living and the construction of skyscrapers through four short films, photos, text and microgames.

First prize for best short feature was awarded to “Staff Rider,” a video about kids in South Africa who “surf” atop trains. Photographer Marco Casino recorded photos, video and sound for the story. First prize for long feature went to “Witnessing Gezi,” directed by photojournalist Emin Ozmen and Baris Koca, who documented the protests against the development of Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park and civil resistance in Turkey.

The first place winner in each category will be awarded a cash award of 1,500 euros.

The full list of winners, and credits for editing, sound design and more, can be found at

The winners were selected from 373 entrants. The chair of the jury, Jassim Ahmad, global head of multimedia innovation at Reuters, said in a statement, “Interactive teams are employing a variety of visual tools and techniques. We looked for examples that are designed for the medium to explain more and bring you closer.” He also noted, “We agreed innovation could not be at the expense of clarity. Communication is the essence of journalism.”

Other jury members were Gabriel Dance, interactive editor, Guardian US; Liza Faktor, co-founder of Screen; photographer Ed Kashi of the VII Photo Agency; Marianne Lévy-Leblond, head of web productions and transmedia projects at Arte France; Grant Scott, senior lecturer on photography at the University of Gloucestershire and founder and editor; and photographer Luis Weinstein. Alan Stoga, president of Zemi Communications, was the jury secretary.

Related articles
Sinclair, Dimmock Win World Press Multimedia Contest

Jurying the World Press Photo Multimedia Contest (for PDN Subscribers)

The Next Generation of Online Storytelling: Bear 71 (by National Film Board of Canada)

February 14th, 2014

John Stanmeyer Wins 2013 World Press Photo of the Year

© John Stanmeyer

© John Stanmeyer

American photographer John Stanmeyer won the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year for an image depicting African migrants standing on the beach in Djibouti, holding mobile phones aloft in an effort to get an inexpensive wireless signal from neighboring Somalia so they could reach family abroad. The World Press Organization announced the winners of the 57th annual contest at a press conference February 14 in Amsterdam.

Read the full story on PDNOnline.

December 18th, 2013

World Press Photo, Alexia Foundation: Still Time to Enter

As 2013 comes to an end, a number of prestigious photo grants, competitions and contests are still accepting entries for their 2014 awards. If you’re looking for something to keep you busy during the holiday break, try submitting your work for one of the awards or grants listed below.

Leica Oskar Barnack Award
In honor of Leica’s centennial in 2014, the camera company is doubling the value of the Oskar Barnack Award’s cash prizes to 10,000 euros for the winner of the professional photographer category and 5,000 euros for the winner of the emerging photographer category. The only requirement for photographers is that they must submit a series that includes images made in 2013. The award, which is named after the inventor of the 35mm Leica camera, recognizes “professional photographers whose unerring powers of observation capture and express the relationship between man and the environment in the most graphic form in a sequence of a minimum of 10 [but] up to a maximum of 12 images.”

This year Leica has added a new category to the competition, the Public Award, and the winner is determined based on the number of votes received on When photographers submit their work in consideration for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, they can also opt-in to participate in the Public Award at no additional fee. The cash prize is 2,500 euros.

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2014; no submission fee. More information can be found at

Alexia Foundation Grants
Every year the Alexia Foundation recognizes a professional and student photographer whose work helps “promote world peace and cultural understanding.” The 2014 Professional Grant winner will receive $20,000—an increase from last year’s prize of $15,000—while the Student Grant winner will win $1,000, a semester at Syracuse University in London and more. Additionally, the Alexia Foundation established a new student grant this year in honor of Robert E. Gilka, the former director of photography for National Geographic who passed away in June 2013. The Gilka Grant, which is a $1,500 scholarship to attend The Kalish workshop, will be awarded to a “project proposal that also includes a multimedia component.”

The deadline for professional submissions is 2 PM on January 13, 2014; $50 submission fee. The deadline for student submissions is 2 PM on January 27, 2013; no submission fee. More information can be found at

World Press Photo and Multimedia Contest
The 57th annual World Press Photo is currently accepting submissions in a variety of categories including General News, Contemporary Issues, Sports and Nature. Additionally, the 4th annual World Press Multimedia Contest is accepting submissions in the Short Feature, Long Feature and Interactive Documentary categories. Both competitions honor outstanding work in the field of photojournalism. The winner of the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year award will win a cash prize of 10,000 euros, while the first-prize winners in all of the photo and multimedia categories will receive a cash prize of 1,500 euros.

The deadline to request a username and password for the submission website is 11:59 PM on January 9, 2014, while the deadline for submissions is 11:59 PM on January 15, 2014; no submission fee. More information can be found at

PDNEdu Student Photo Contest
PDNEdu, The Photo Group publication for photography students, is seeking entries for its annual Student Photo Contest. College students who are currently enrolled in classes can submit a single image or a series of work in a number of different categories including Fashion/Portraiture, Documentary/Photojournalism, Still Life and Multimedia/Video. High-school students can also submit any type of photographic work in the Pre-College category. Grand-prize winners in each category will receive a Nikon camera, B&H gift card, portfolio review and more. Plus, they will be featured in the Spring 2014 issue of PDNEdu.

The deadline for submissions is December 21, 2013; $12 submission fee. More information can be found at

Related Articles:

Jurying the World Press Multimedia Contest
Abir Abdullah, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz Win Alexia Foundation Grants
Successful Grant Applications: Tips From Grant Judge Toren Beasley
Paul Hansen Wins 2012 World Press Photo of the Year

May 15th, 2013

No Sense of Irony In Hansen “Fake” Journalism Accusation

Let’s review: On Monday Paul Hansen, a veteran photojournalist and two-time newspaper photographer of the year award winner was accused of “faking” his World Press Photo award winning image. An analysis by independent experts recruited by the World Press Photo organization has since cleared Hansen of the charge.

The accusation was leveled by a tech blogger over at ExtremeTech, citing a single source: a computer scientist, Dr. Neal Krawetz, who wrote about the photograph on the blog for his company The Hacker Factor, a computer security consultancy.  Talking about Hansen’s photo, which shows a group of mourners in Gaza City carrying children killed in an Israeli air strike, Krawetz stated that in his “opinion, [Hansen’s photo] has been significantly altered.” Krawetz provided his analysis and concluded that the image was “a digital composite.”

The ExtremeTech blogger got hold of Krawetz’s post, rehashed it, and tacked on this headline: “How the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year was faked with Photoshop.”

As of this morning the blog post had been shared on various social media platforms by roughly 25,000 people, and had received 271 comments. (Which, by the way, is about 24,450 more shares than a typical ExtremeTech blog post gets, so mission accomplished, right?). Sadly, many of the people sharing the accusation were members of the professional photography community. (more…)

February 27th, 2013

POYi Punts on Pellegrin Controversy

©Paolo Pellegrin

©Paolo Pellegrin

Pictures of the Year International organizers have finally weighed in on the controversy surrounding Paolo Pellegrin’s prize-winning contest entry. And they dodged the issue that is central to the debate: the legitimacy of one particular documentary-like image of a subject posing with a gun in a parking garage–at Pellegrin’s request. (The subject told PDN that the image “put him in a bad light.”)

Instead, POYi addresses only the less complicated issues about the sloppiness of Pellegrin’s captions for the story.

POYi’s statement about entry, posted in the POYi Winners Gallery below Pellegrin’s story, reads as follows:

“The spirit of Pictures of the Year International is to honor photojournalists and celebrate their outstanding documentary photography. We do not probe for reasons to disqualify work. POY understands that errors may occur in captions submitted by photographers. We are happy to make corrections and acknowledge the errors. Story summaries and captions are ‘published’ when posted on the POY website. Any misunderstanding regarding self-authorship for ‘published’ captions or story summaries will be corrected by the photographer. POY affirms the awards.”

That response to the controversy is even more tepid than that of the organizers of World Press Photo, which at least addressed the guy-with-gun image directly when they issued their statement about it yesterday:

“The jury is of the opinion that although a more complete and accurate introduction and captions should have been made available by the photographer, the jury was not fundamentally mislead by the picture in the story or the caption that was included with it.”

Asked what safeguards they have in place to vet winning entries for manipulation, World Press Photo told PDN today that they reserve the right “to ask for raw files or untoned scans and consult an external photo expert to advise on possible manipulation. This analysis focuses only on technical facts.”

Rick Shaw, director of POYi, did not immediately respond to PDN’s request for an interview about the POYi statement.

But what the POYi and WPP statements about the Pellegrin entry suggest is that the photo contests are equipped by their rules to deal perfectly well with black and white issues, and less well-equipped to deal with any ethical gray areas.

It is, after all, easier to come up with guidelines about technical questions of how much image manipulation is too much, than it is to make rules about what kinds of actions on the part of a photographer might be misleading or damaging to the subject.

But until the contests are willing to take on such ethical gray areas when they arise, they’re leaving photographers a lot of room to “make things happen,” as long as it doesn’t happen in Photoshop, and as long as the captions pass a basic smell test.

World Press Hits Pellegrin with Wet Noodle (And Other Contest Scandals)

Paolo Pellegrin and His Subject at Odds Over Photograph