The World Press Photo Awards

Ever since people have had cameras, they have used photography to try and make sense of the world. Nowadays the world is so complex, and so contradictory, that task is much more difficult, but the desire to document and understand it remains as strong as ever.

Last week The World Press Photo Foundation opened its annual showcase in Amsterdam. Founded in 1955, the WPP aims to “to inspire, engage, educate, and support both visual journalists and their global audience with fresh insights and new perspectives.”

It does this through training programs and research grants, as well as its annual award scheme that rewards the best visual and multimedia projects of the past year. Thousands of people enter, and it’s up to the jury to sift through the masses to select the best of the best.

The first criteria, especially at the beginning when you have so many photographs, is that is has to catch you,” says Francis Kohn, who led the 2016 jury. “You look at the content – what does it tell me, and how does it tell me? A picture has to go to work on many levels.

“There is an element of taste but we try not to say, ‘Blurgh I don’t like it.’ We have to explain a bit more, and be fair to the photographer.”

And Francis, who is a photo director of Agence France-Presse, believes this award scheme has an important role to play in our current visual climate.

“I think it’s very important to have this kind of contest, that recognises the quality and the commitment of photojournalism. We are bombarded by images – images – they are not always what I would call photographs. A photo has to have some content, some meaning, some depth and in a way some rules. There is more to it than just taking your smartphone out.”

We are currently running five images from this year’s WPP awards as wallpapers on Click the photographs to read the story behind the pictures in the photographers’ own words.

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