Gain insights into the winning stories of World Press Photo 2022
The annual World Press Photo Contest recognises and celebrates the best photojournalism and documentary photography produced over the last year. The 2022 contest winners were announced in April and are now on display in De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam until August 14. Book your tickets here.
Providing a variety of perspectives from all corners of the globe, the awarded works from the 2022 contest present courageous stories, invaluable insights and diversity of interpretations – from the undeniable effects of the climate crisis to civil rights movements, and from access to education to preserving indigenous practices and identity. These stories, however, can also give us insights into questions of representation, press freedom and diversity in the industry. See here below a few examples of questions we could ask ourselves:
Question 1: How does a photographer develop a relationship and get consent from the people they photograph?
The Cinema of Kabul
In The Cinema of Kabul, Bram Janssen documented the Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan, after the Taliban took control of the country in mid-August 2021. The cinema has since then remained closed and its staff in limbo, waiting to hear whether the Islamist fundamentalist Taliban would allow films to be screened. The photographer found the situation inside the cinema to be symbolic of the standstill the nation finds itself in since the Taliban occupation.
The Ariana cinema is government-owned, and therefore, in order to document this story, Janssen spent several weeks trying to get permission from the Taliban to photograph the cinema. Once granted, he spent weeks inside the space, getting to know the staff, communicating through a translator, and trying to gain their trust in order to document their most genuine selves.
Rahmatullah Ezati inspects a roll of film for damage, in the projection room of the Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 8 November 2021. The Cinema of Kabul © Bram Janssen, The Associated Press
To gain the trust and get the consent of those photographed requires a sense of sensitivity and professionalism on behalf of any photographer, especially if this concerns people in a vulnerable situation. Spending a lot of time and effort on the story while attentively observing it establishes stronger connections between the photographer and the subjects.
Question 2: Why are captions important in photojournalism?
Kamloops Residential School
Residential schools in Canada began operating in the 19th century as part of a policy of assimilating people from various Indigenous communities into Western, and predominantly Christian culture. More than 150,000 children passed through the doors of residential schools before the last one closed in 1996.
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up in 2009, concluded that at least 4,100 students died while at the schools, as a result of mistreatment, neglect, disease or accident. The Kamloops Residential School, established in 1890, became the largest in the system, attended by hundreds of Secwépemc and other First Nations children. In May 2021, a survey using ground-penetrating radar identified as many as 215 potential juvenile burial sites at Kamloops – confirming reports from oral histories.
Red dresses hung on crosses along a roadside commemorate children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, an institution created to assimilate Indigenous children, following the detection of as many as 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops, British Columbia, on 19 June 2021. © Amber Bracken, for The New York Times.
The photograph by Amber Bracken documents the long-term legacy of historical crimes that are not directly visible today but which continue affecting the lives of First Nations in Canada. The image is full of visual symbolism: the children’s dresses hanging on the crosses refer to the crimes of the Church, and the opening sky and the rainbow, that lands where the graves were found, symbolise the current process of reparation and reconciliation between the Church and Indigenous communities.
While the photograph is full of visual queues about the history of residential schools, the background and history still need to be explained for viewers to capture the complexity behind the photograph. Watch the photographer speak about the making of the photograph
More questions, insights and visual education
Find out more about these and other stories in World Press Photo's educational resource See the Story.
Attend World Press Photo Exhibition 2022
World Press Photo Exhibition 2022 takes place from April 15 until August 14 at De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam. Book tickets on the here.