Thursday 27 November 2014

World Press Photo Exhibition 2014

In case you missed this year's World Press Photo Exhibition - which came to a close yesterday evening - I thought it might be apt to outline some of the highlights from the 2014 contest, having checked it out on my latest London jaunt. Housed on the main floor of Southbank Centre (a personal fave), the renowned event's 57th installment presented the most remarkable press images from the past 12 months. As per every year, a jury of reputed figures within the photojournalism realm sought out the photos that showcased a particularly outstanding amalgam of aesthetics and journalism.

As this year's jury chair Gary Knight underlined in his intro to the display, handpicking the annual photo crop is a pretty contentious endeavour; opinions on what constitutes a winning image are diverse to say the least. Above all in the field of press photography, the value of an image is not just determined by its surface beauty, but its portrayal of the story and its narrative per se. Therein lay the key concern of the judges: striking the balance between a "well-photographed" image and the means of depicting the issue at hand. The events captured, too, found themselves in a debatable hierarchy of importance, adding further complication to the selection process. 

Despite not knowing what didn't made the cut, I can most definitely vouch for the rich line-up that did. The (totally free) exhibition encompassed a whole wealth of worldwide issues in striking, highly affecting ways. Plucked from a submission selection of nearly 99,000 shots (I don't envy the jury), the winners were categorised under: Contemporary Issues, Observed Portraits, Daily Life, Sports, General News, Spot News, Nature, and Staged Portraits - all making for a collection replete with variety and giving rise to some serious reflection.  

From stark, hard-hitting portrayals of global disasters - both natural and manmade - to candid portraits of domestic violence, to vignettes of the relationships between Egyptian bodybuilders and their mothers, as well as stunning insight into the lives of bonobos in Kokolopori, 2014's World Press display was outstanding to say the least. If there was ever an expo to epitomise the age-old "picture is worth a thousand words" phrase, this was it. To a T. 

Check out the winners here.

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