Among three finalists for the World Press Photo short form multimedia prize is Magnus Wennman’s outstanding 5-1/2 minute video called “Fatima’s Drawings.” His “Where the Children Sleep” project was widely published last year, and “Fatima’s Drawings” is a continuation of his work documenting the plight of refugee children from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The video features a five-year-old Syrian refugee in Sweden, recounting (in a voiceover) the trauma and loss she experienced in Syria and while fleeing to Europe. It’s an example of spare, exquisite filmmaking, with care and attention to all the creative and technical details, from the storyboarding and shooting, to the sound recording and mixing, to the atmospheric hue of the lighting. It also includes animation: Wennman shows Fatima by the light of a window, making stick-figure drawings of scenes from her past. One shows her playing with the best friend she left behind in Idlib, Syria; another shows airplanes bombing her old neighborhood. The drawings suddenly come to life as the camera lingers overhead. Some purists might argue the technique strains the limits of journalism, but Wennman’s video adds up to more than the sum of its individual parts, and documentary storytelling doesn’t get much better than this.
Winter is the height of the photojournalism contest season, and entry deadlines are fast approaching for a number of international competitions. Among them are:
The World Press Photo entry deadline is January 13, although entrants must register by January 7. (Multimedia entries are due by January 20.) There is no entry fee, but participants must provide proof of their professional status. This year’s contest is subject to a new code of ethics and strict new rules about photo manipulation, as well as other rule changes. See the contest website for details. Photo contest winners will be announced February 18. The winner of the World Press Photo of the Year 2015 will receive a cash prize of 10,000 EUR, and winners in all categories will be invited to travel to Amersterdam for an awards ceremony in April at the expense of World Press Photo organizers.
Entries for the 73rd POYi competition are due by January 15. The competition includes multiple categories in photojournalism, multimedia, and visual editing divisions. The entry fee is $50. Prizes are primarily bragging rights and exposure, but winners of several premier categories also receive modest cash awards–$1,000 for Photographer of the Year and $500 for Newspaper Photographer of the Year, for instance. Judging takes place from February 8-25 at the Missouri School of Journalism, which sponsors the contest. Details and rules are on the POYi website.
Photo entries for the Eyes of History competition are due January 15. The competition is sponsored by the White News Photographers Association. The entry fee is $67. The competition has other divisions with different entry due dates: video entries are due January 29, multimedia entries are due January 31, and student entries are due February 1. The entry fees for those divisions also vary. All divisions except the student division are open to WHNP members only. See the WHNP website for complete details.
Best of Photojournalism entries are due by January 29. The contest, which is sponsored by National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), is open to NPPA members and non-members alike. There is no entry fee, and there are no monetary prizes (just bragging rights and plaques). Like POYi, BOP includes still photo, multimedia and editing divisions, plus a video division. Contest details and rules are available on the NPPA website. No date has been set for announcing winners, but winners for past competitions have been announced in March or April.
The deadline for entering PDN’s Photo Annual competition is February 3. In addition to photojournalism/documentary and video/multimedia categories, the competition categories include: advertising, editorial, photo books, sports, self-promotion, stock photography, personal work and student work. The entry fee is $50 for single images, and $60 for each series of images. Cash awards total more than $20,000. Contest information and rules are available at the PDN Photo Annual website.
The Piclet.org International Prize for Contemporary African Photography (POPCAP) is accepting entries until February 7. The prize is for work about Africa or the diaspora of an African country. Entrants must submit a single series or story consisting of 10 to 25 images. There is no entry fee. The prizes include an artists’ residency. Finalists will be announced February 29, and five winners will be announced March 7. Past winners include Zed Nelson, Léonard Pongo, Anoek Steketee, Patrick Willocq, and Cristina de Middel. Full details and rules are available at the POPCAP website.
Entries for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by Natural History Museum in London, are due by February 25. “Judges are looking for outstanding images that raise awareness of nature’s beauty and fragility, while also championing the highest ethical standards in wildlife photography,” according to the contest website. Entrants may submit up to 25 images. The entry fee is £30.00 ($44). Top prize is £10,000 ($14,675) for Best Single Image, but the competition awards monetary prizes in a number of categories. Winners will be notified May 13. Past winners include Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, Greg du Toit, and Paul Nicklen. Full contest details are available at the WPY website.
Mads Nissen Wins World Press Photo of the Year 2014 Prize (PDN subscription required)
From photographer contract restrictions to instagram apps, and from copyright infringements to a changing code of ethics, this year’s list of the most-read articles on PDNPulse capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business this year.
The band was cheered for their response to artist Richard Price’s appropriation of their images from Instagram. The brand’s founder, Missy Suicide (also known as Selena Mooney) announced the band would sell for $90 the same images Price and his gallery, Gagosian, are alleged to have copied and then sold for $90,000. Price sold the images at the Frieze Art Fair in New York and at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills gallery.
Taylor Swift headlines raked in clicks all across the internet this year, but it was the fine print in her contract with freelance concert photographers that drew readers to PDN. In late June, the singer’s management company, Firefly Entertainment, Inc., released a contract that limited photographers from running their photographs more than once, even for news purposes. In July, the management company revised the contract, removing and revising some of elements that photographers had found objectionable.
In March, questions about the authenticity of photographer Giovanni Trolio’s series, “The Dark Heart of the Europe,” winner of a 1st prize in the 2015 World Press Photo competition, generated buzz when another photographer claimed that the images may have been staged. Ultimately, World Press Photo withdrew the award on the grounds that the story was not captioned in compliance with the entry rules. In November, World Press announced that the 2016 World Press Photo contest will be carried out with a new code of ethics to reflect an effort at reform and transparency in the wake of the scandal.
In the wake of the backlash against Taylor Swift’s management company for its contract restricting photographers’ image usage (see 2 & 3), Norwegian photographer Jarle Moe wrote a blog post posing a solution: Photographers could end restrictive contracts if they identified themselves “journalists,” not “concert photographers.”
When the popular Instagram app InstaAgent was reported to be storing Instagram users’ passwords and usernames and sending them in plain text to a remote server, PDN encouraged readers using the app to delete it.
Think film is dead? Black-and-white film supplier Ilford released findings from a study of of film-users showing that film is still a viable – and resurging – medium in the photography world. The company surveyed “thousands” of film users across 70 countries to understand who uses film and why. Notable in the findings was that 30 percent of respondents were under the age of 35, and that 60 percent of them said they had picked up film photography over the past five years.
October’s PhotoPlus Expo #Trending panel consisted of four photographers—Sue Bryce, Vincent Laforet, Jeremy Cowart and Chase Jarvis—with sizable social media followings. The panelists offered their advice, suggestions and experiences on how photographers can build and maintain their social network, such as making posts that are honest, positive, and have something of value to share with the world.
In November, The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story discussing the challenges women face working in the male-dominated world of Hollywood. However, to shoot the cover, which featured portraits of 60 female actors, directors and executives, The New York Times Magazine hired a male photographer. That irony inspired in an outpouring of social media posts from women photographers expressing their disappointment. Director of photography for The New York Times Magazine Kathy Ryan told PDN that women photographers shouldn’t “think that somehow there aren’t opportunities [at the magazine], because I feel very passionately that there are, and that’s important to us: To have women’s points of view, that diversity, that range in our pages is important.”
The May 11 issue of TIME Magazine had a cover bearing an image of protests in Baltimore taken by a 26-year-old amateur photographer, Devin Allen, who had only two years of experience under his belt. This marks the third time in the magazine’s history that it has used an amateur’s image on the cover. In explaining the decision to use Allen’s image, TIME deputy director of photography Paul Moakley noted that Allen is a Baltimore native, and, “He was being really thoughtful and was capturing both sides of what was happening.”
The 2016 World Press Photo contest will be carried out with new rules, guidelines and procedures, organizers announced today in Amsterdam. The changes include a new code of ethics, backed by more specific rules against photo manipulation, as well as other changes.
The new code of ethics reflects the World Press Photo Foundation’s efforts at reform and transparency, undertaken in the wake of a photo manipulation scandal last year that led to the disqualification of 20 percent of the final round entries, and the revocation of a first-place prize in the Contemporary Issues category.
“We want the audience to have trust in the accuracy of the pictures that win awards and are shown in our exhibition, so, for the first time, the contest has a code of ethics that sets out what we expect from entrants,” World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering said in a prepared statement.
Entries for the 2016 World Press Photo competition are due by January 13, 2016, at noon Central European Time.
The new code of ethics calls on photographers entering the contest not to stage events, and to avoid being misled into photographing events staged by others; to make no “material” changes to the content of their images; to provide accurate caption information; to edit stories in a manner that is accurate and fair; and to be open and transparent about how they made the photos they enter in the World Press Photo contest.
In support of that code, the new rules define illegal manipulation as “staging or re-enacting events” and “adding or removing content from the image.”
For example, World Press Photo says it is not acceptable to remove physical marks on the body, small objects in the pictures, reflected light spots, shadows, or extraneous items on a picture’s border that could not be removed by cropping. It is also unacceptable to add elements by cloning highlights, painting in object details, photo montage, or replicating material on the border of a picture to make a neat crop possible.
But “cropping that removes extraneous details is permitted” and “sensor dust or scratches on scans of negatives can be removed,” the 2016 rules say. They also say that “processing by itself” does not constitution manipulation. Specifically, “adjustments of color of conversion to grayscale that do not alter content are permitted,” the new rules say.
A new study released by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in association with World Press Photo offers a conflicting view of the lives of today’s photojournalists. On the one hand, the majority of the 1,556 photographers who participated in the survey are making $40,000 or less, and are concerned that risks to safety and financial security will only increase in the coming years; on the other hand, the majority are also happy with their career choice.
The study, which addresses financial concerns, employment status, the use of image manipulation, and social media, among other topics, is based on survey responses from photographers who entered the 2015 World Press Photo Contest. Respondents came from Europe (52 percent); North America (9.2 percent); South and Central America, and the Carribean (11.5 percent); Australasia (1.2 percent); Asia, Oceana, and the Middle East (22.3 percent); and Africa (1.3 percent). Eighty-five percent of respondents were male. (more…)
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…)
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…)
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
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.
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,
and Michelle Shephard’s 2011 photo published in the Toronto Star:
He could also have included this photo by an AFP/Getty photographer, published last year in the Daily Mail .
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?