I know it has been said here that the World Press Awards 2009 was a nice selection, albeit maybe too much linked to the most important events of the year. Who is to say that a lesser known event might have had stronger images ? Regardless, ever since the results, new information has been brought to my attention that I would like to share.
<Disclaimer> I am a big Obama fan and a huge admirer of Callie Shell’s work. This has nothing to do with either politics nor quality of work < End of Disclaimer>
This image of Obama, taken by photographer extraordinaire Callie Shell, was apparently a set up. Callie asked, or challenged, the then candidate Obama to do pull-ups while they were waiting backstage:
While it is a great picture, it still bothers me highly that the photographer would have provoked the image. To me, a photojournalist should always remain a spectator and not an actor, and especially not a stage director. He/she is there to document an event, or a moment, without possibly affecting it. Of course, it is almost impossible because just having a photographer point a camera at an event will create some kind of reaction. There has been many examples of images taken only because the participant in a news event saw the photographer and reacted accordingly. There not much anyone can do about this.
However, interacting with your subject should not be allowed, regardless of the situation. And it certainly should not be rewarded with a major journalistic award. This situation breaks my heart because I love this photograph, but just knowing that Obama did this knowing the photographer would create a sellable images just ruins it for me. Its almost like it was staged.
The second info I received was about those sports images:
Like you, I was very impressed with these images, considering the extremely brutal environment the sports photographers have while shooting the Olympics. These look like studio photographs that would have taken a lot of resources and time to set up. Amazing. Well, apparently, it so happened that these images did not travel like that when originally send to the EPA wire. Not at all. What you are seeing is heavily post production retouching of the original images. The background was much more visible and the drops almost impossible to see. That begs the questions : should participant of the World Press Award should submit their original images or should they be allowed to heavily retouch them ?
These images are still great, don’t take me wrong. It is just the ethics behind.
Finally, I don’t know what that is :
It got 3rd prize in the Portraits category. Is it because the Jury do not beleive the Chinese can’t do better photography than imitating classics with puppet dolls? How does this series, that looks like a photography student Saturday afternoon exercise, win a prize ? its amusing, cute, indeed, but how is it photojournalism? Is it photojournalism on photojournalism ? Huh ?
The World Press should change the selection process a bit. For one thing, they should add multimedia. Now !!.
But also, I beleive they should have a 110 person jury that would judge images all year long as they come in, on some sort of sharing Facebook type site, where each one could add great pictures as they see them. This is the 3rd millennium and juries could easily use existing technology to post images as they see them. Other jury members could add their votes and at year end, the votes would be tallied. Even the public could participate in one category. No need for mass CD or FTP submissions, for week-long exhausting viewings sessions of 10,000’s images in dark rooms, or other antiquated selection process.. If they don’t do it , I will.