World Press Photo 2018 | #Photography Magazine

World Press Photo, one of the world’s most esteemed exhibitions focusing on photojournalism, is exhibiting forty-five professional photographers this year for its 61st contest. The 2018 display directs your attention towards the cruel realities that exist in the modern world. However, upon a closer look you will notice the kind-hearted nature of the human being; most photographers highlighting the more encouraging stories presented in such sadness.

The exhibition is highly diverse, covering topics such as terrorism, politics, war, injustice, rejoice, economy, health, environmental issues and ecological conservation. Consequently, it will attract a sizeable audience, particularly those intrigued by significant events that have been captured through stunning and thought-provoking imagery.

This vast exhibition features narratives originating from over ten countries, assisting our unknowing and somewhat ignorant awareness of what is occurring beyond our Western bubble. It would be almost impossible to appreciate every display of work in a single review, so from each of the eight categories that form the exhibition, I have highlighted one contestant that seemed to resonate the most.

Contemporary Issues

Heba Khamis Banned Beauty

Breast ironing is common practice in regions of Cameroon with around 25% of women having experienced it. Mothers and other female relatives bind the breasts or massage with heated grinding stones to reduce breast development in pubescent girls. Mothers suggest that this is a loving act which will ensure their daughters do not experience sexual assault or rape, although the United Nations Population Fund suggests this practice can cause tissue damage and infection.

The stark black and white series documents not only the utensils used but also the females involved. Beyond the pain, you will notice the beautiful relationships between child and caregiver, demonstrating the older generation’s willingness to do anything to protect their girls from such brutality.


Environment

Thomas P. Peschak

Back in Time

Peschak presents an archival photograph documenting the African penguin colony in the late 1890’s on Halifax Island, Nambia. The two photographs presented as one really do take us ‘Back in Time’ as we make the comparison to the colony numbers in 2017. Overfishing of anchovies and sardines, one of the most predominant food sources of the African penguin, is considered to be a major cause of the population dropping to around 2.5% of what it was 80 years ago.

Once stories of environmental devastation leave our newspapers, it is difficult to maintain them in conscious thought above our more insignificant issues. However, Peschak’s large and detailed photograph unambiguously holds the problem right in front of our eyes. By utilising the identical location on Halifax Island to demonstrate the worryingly dissimilar comparison of the former and current penguin population, the photographer leaves no basis for skeptics to dispute the destruction we have already caused to our planet.

General News

Richard Tsong-Taatarii

Not My Verdict

John Thompson is photographed following an emotional speech dedicated to his adored friend Philando Castile who was shot and killed by police officer Jeronimo Yanez. A couple of days prior, Yanez’s charges of second degree manslaughter were dropped. Police dashboard camera footage revealed that once Castile informed the said police officer he had a gun in the car after being pulled over, he was critically shot several times.

Tsong-Tattarii frames every emotion one would expect to be felt that day in a single photograph; anger, distress and togetherness. The image highlights Thompson’s expression of frustration and upset towards the injustice experienced by his beloved friend. However, he holds his hands in firm position similarly to the strong stance of the male in the background, representing the coming together of a community wanting to fight for righteousness.


Long-term Projects

Carla Kogelman

Ich Bin Waldviertel

Sisters Hannah and Alena are inhabitants of the bioenergy village, Merkenbrechts, Austria which produces its own energy from renewable sources and local biomass. They have been documented annually by Kogelman since 2012 to record their growth and untroubled existence.

This beautiful black and white series captures kids just being kids. The images are presented in chronological order, ensuring the audience have the opportunity to observe the two sisters mature as well develop their close relationship. The intimate photographs of their daily lives presents an existence most of us are not accustomed to; that of complete freeness.

Nature

Ami Vitale

Warriors Who Once Feared Elephants Now Protect Them

The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Northern Kenya rehabilitates orphaned and abandoned elephant calves. The sanctuary is run solely by past and present Samburu warriors, with the Samburu people building the orphanage on their ancestral homeland. Once it was discovered that elephants can be essential tools in creating agricultural land needed for livestock, a new desire to help the animals was established.

Vitale focuses on the captivating relationship between human and animal, demonstrating the happiness each species brings to one another. The playful photographers disguise the upsetting reality that the elephants are orphans, mostly due to human action. However, it is hard not to smile when presented with such love and innocence.

People

Anna Boyiazis

Finding Freedom in the Water

Most females in the Zanzibar Archipelago do not learn how to swim due to the conservative structures of their Islamic faith. However, the Panje Project introduced modest, full-length swimwear, encouraging females to enter the water without the concern of disrespecting their beliefs.

Boyiazis captures a series of photographs depicting angelic females floating in blue sea water. Although most images in the series are calming in nature, it is easy to recognise the dedication and persistence shown by the women to learn this important life skill, assisting one another along the way. Boyiazis’ project embraces underlying tones of feminism, encapsulating an important moment in which these females are led one step closer to the independence and equality they deserve.

Sports

Erik Sampers

Marathon des Sables

The World Press Photo exhibition also focuses on the spectacular achievements in sport, with certain individuals willing to compete in grueling competitions to attain self-accomplishment. The ‘Marathon of the Sands’ is a great example of this. The event spans 250 kilometers, and takes place in the Sahara Desert with competitors carrying their own food, water and sleeping equipment. The seven-day marathon draws in approximately 1000 participants from countries all over the world; almost ten times more participants from its first launch in 1986.


Sampers’ photograph must be examined to fully appreciate its conceptual drive as he cleverly points towards two very diverse interpretations. The birds-eye-view demonstrates the immense, desert landscape which the contestants must treacherously overcome; at first glance making them appear insignificant as minuscule specs absorbed by the orange dunes. However, upon further consideration one must understand the sheer strength of those competing; clambering up the desert hill amongst thousands of other footprints.

Spot News

Toby Melville

Witnessing the Immediate Aftermath of an Attack in the Heart of London

Khalid Masood drove a large car along the pavement of Westminster Bridge in London, injuring approximately forty people and killing five. He then tried to enter the grounds of parliament where he critically stabbed a police officer. Later he was shot and killed.

After the initial shock of viewing such horrific scenes filled with wounded individuals, one can notice glimpses of the best of humanity. The event was filled with distress, but Melville has captured the light at the end of the tunnel; the sheer selflessness of others willing to help those in need.

It is easy to understand why the World Press Photo exhibition is so profound, with the photographs on display acting as an important reminder of past events. One must not overlook the more ambiguous notion of the overall exhibition however. Each project expresses the lengths photographers will go to in order to bring global awareness to significant events, and ensure they are not lost in last week’s newspaper.

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writer & visual artist