These six photos are competing for a top photojournalism prize
By Olivier Laurent
The world’s violence in its many forms — including the death of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence and Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State — dominated the front pages of newspapers globally last year. Now, some of the most powerful photographs that emerged from 2017 have been recognized by the World Press Photo Foundation, which sponsors an annual photojournalism contest.
For more than 60 years, World Press Photo has selected the one photograph that defined 12 months of news, often putting the accent on some of the medium’s most iconic images. This year, however, the rules have changed. We will have to wait two months to find out which of the six shortlisted images will get the title for 2017.
The six images — shot by five male photographers — include the breathtaking picture of a Venezuelan protester engulfed in fire. Photographed by Agence France-Presse’s Ronaldo Schemidt, it is part of a series documenting the street protests against President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas last May.
Patrick Brown was also shortlisted for the heartbreaking photograph of Rohingya refugees who drowned as they tried to reach safety in Bangladesh. “In some way, I’d prefer to be nominated for one of the many other images I’ve taken over the course of 2017,” he said, “images that tell a story that’s a little less horrible. But this photo is really important to me because people need to know that this is happening on the other side of the world — that people are dying and that mothers and fathers are crying over the deaths of their families.”
Toby Melville, a British photographer, received a nod for a photograph of a passerby comforting an injured woman in the London attacks back in March 2017. He joins New York Times freelance photographer Adam Ferguson, who shot portraits of Boko Haram survivors in Nigeria.
The judges saluted Ferguson’s take on the story. “We were all looking for new, challenging approaches within journalism and photojournalism,” said the jury’s chair, Magdalena Herrera. “We really liked Adam Ferguson’s story. It’s an approach that’s different and strong.”
Ivor Prickett, an Irish freelance photographer for the New York Times, bagged two of the six spots for the top title. Both of his shortlisted photographs were shot in Iraq and focused on civilians as government forces pushed against the Islamic State in and around Mosul. “When I look back at the work from the past year, I hope that it stands as a record of the terrible cost the war to defeat ISIS had on the people caught up in it,” he tells In Sight, using a common acronym for the Islamic State. “As much as war reporting is about the battle itself, for me the most important stories are made on the periphery or in the aftermath of the clashes. That is where I tried to operate, and I just hope that my reporting added another layer to all the exceptional work of my colleagues.”
The contest’s results will be announced in April.