#141 – 210515

Last weekend we went to the Nieuwe Kerk here in Amsterdam to see the exhibition for the World Press Photo competition.

The winners of the competition are determined by a panel of judges, with photos entered as singles or a set within a range of categories. In general the photos are all the products of photojournalism, that is they seek to convey a much deeper story.

It’s enormously inspiring to see photos that manage to capture a moment so perfectly. In the real world, context matters a great deal, and these photos are generally without context. That is both their burden and their power: they can distil an event, a conflict, a cultural phenomenon, down to a single image.

This was one of my favourites, because so much is conveyed. The girl’s blank expression is at odds with the determination in her eyes.

Istanbul Protest Spot News, first prize singles. via http://www.worldpressphoto.org/collection/photo/2015/spot-news/bulent-kilic

I’m a football fan, and I’ve played and loved the game since I was six or seven years old. This photo of Lionel Messi again captures a great deal of emotion, while his expression is almost completely blank.

The Final Game Sports, first prize singles. via http://www.worldpressphoto.org/collection/photo/2015/sports/bao-tailiang

While at first it seems that Messi is looking directly at the World Cup trophy, on closer inspection he is fixated on not looking at it. He is staring directly past it, and the photo conveys a sense of heartbreak: arguably the best player in the world being denied the crowning achievement in world football.

The last entry that I found particularly moving was this set of photos capturing from above the sorts of gatherings at which civilians overseas have been killed by drone strikes. The gatherings are all of people in America, and it provides a very powerful commentary on the value of life and the ethical and moral implications of war, particularly the use of drones operated by remote pilots. This photo of a wedding perfectly embodies the set:

Blue Sky Days Contemporary Issues, second prize stories. via http://www.worldpressphoto.org/collection/photo/2015/contemporary-issues/tomas-van-houtryve

If you have a chance to view the exhibition in person, I highly recommend it. It’s a great chance to appreciate the skill of some amazing photographers. There are really interesting interactive and film sections of the exhibition that extend on the themes. The winners of the exhibition can also all be viewed online.

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