This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – World Press Photo announces its winners. Featured are the Photo of the Year, plus three visual stories that won in the categories of Contemporary Issues – Heba Khamis’ Banned Beauty; Environment – Kadir van Lohuizen’s Wasteland; and Nature – Ami Vitale’s Warriors Who Once Feared Elephants. All are exceptional work.
This year the competition considered 73,044 images taken by 4,548 photographers from 125 different countries. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists, and a big shout out to all the visual storytellers who are reporting on important stories often at their own expense and at great personal cost.
World Press Photo 2018 – Winners
The winner of this year’s World Press Photo Photograph of the Year is Ronaldo Schemidt, a Venezuelan photographer, for this intense photograph of 28 year old José Víctor Salazar Balza as he catches fire amid violent clashes with riot police during a protest against President Nicolás Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela in May 2017. Schemidt also won Spot News for the same photograph.
This picture was from a sequence Schemidt shot (below). He says, “I felt an intense flash of heat and turned around and saw a ball of fire coming towards me. I didn’t know what it was. I just followed it, snapping away without stopping. Then I heard the screams and realized what had happened. Ten seconds and it was over.”
Contemporary Issues – First Prize Stories
Heba Khamis – Banned Beauty
Heba Khamis is an Egyptian visual storyteller focused on social issues that rarely receive attention. In her series Banned Beauty she explores the largely Cameroonian practice of binding pubescent girls’ breasts in order to suppress or reverse breast development in the hope that “it will delay maturity and help prevent rapes or sexual advances. Breast ironing is usually done by the girl’s mother or an older relative. Techniques differ from region to region. Some people bind the breasts with a belt, others heat a grinding stone, spatula or pestle and use it to press or massage the breasts…There is little medical research on the psychological and physical consequences of breast flattening, but according to the United Nations Population Fund, the practice exposes girls to numerous health problems deriving from tissue damage and infection.”
Environment – First Prize Stories
Kadir van Lohuizen – Wasteland
Dutch photographer Kadir van Lohuizen’s long term documentation of the global waste problem has taken him around the world. In this series he captures the reality of a consumerist lifestyle, where many in affluent societies don’t even think about waste, and if they do, it’s someone else’s problem.
He says, “Humans are producing more waste than ever before. According to research by the World Bank, the world generates 3.5 million tonnes of solid waste a day, ten times the amount of a century ago. Rising population numbers and increasing economic prosperity fuel the growth, and as countries become richer, the composition of their waste changes to include more packaging, electronic components and broken appliances, and less organic matter. Landfills and waste dumps are filling up, and the World Economic Forum reports that by 2050 there will be so much plastic floating in the world’s oceans that it will outweigh the fish. A documentation of waste management systems in metropolises across the world investigates how different societies manage—or mismanage—their waste.”
Nature – First Prize Stories
Ami Vitale – Warriors Who Once Feared Elephants Now Protect Them
American visual storyteller Ami Vitale intuitively captures the personalities of these beautiful orphaned and abandoned elephant calves, and their carers. These elephants are rehabilitated and returned to the wild at the community-owned Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in northern Kenya. “The elephant orphanage was established in 2016 by local Samburus, and all the men working there are, or were at some time, Samburu warriors. In the past, local people weren’t much interested in saving elephants, which can be a threat to humans and their property, but now they are beginning to relate to the animals in a new way. Elephants feed on low brush and knock down small trees, promoting the growth of grasses—of advantage to the pastoralist Samburu.”