World Press Photo Contests

For 60 years already, World Press Photo has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism. The resulting archive is not only a record of more than half a century of human history, but a showcase of successive styles in visual storytelling.

Timeline

Timeline

World Press Photo of the Year Warren Richardson

2016

As was the case for the thousands of photos that preceded them, the discussion about the last two remaining in the 2016 World Press Photo Contest centered as much on the aesthetic and the technical as on the journalistic aspects of the images.

World Press Photo of the Year Mads Nissen

2015

2014 was an unrelenting news year, according to jury chair Michele McNally, but photographers around the world bravely navigated these treacherous and dangerous situations, and provided images of places most of us would never see---.

World Press Photo of the Year John Stanmeyer

2014

According to the chair Gary Knight, the 2014 jury stated that they sought to award the photography of issues and events, rather than the events and issues themselves.

World Press Photo of the Year Paul Hansen

2013

The civil war in Syria, the aftermath of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, the Summer Olympics in London, and Israel’s offensive against Gaza were among the world news events on many of the submitted and awarded photographs.

World Press Photo of the Year Samuel Aranda

2012

As jury chairman Aidan Sullivan noted in the 2012 World Press Photo yearbook, 2011 was a remarkable year—full of tragedy and turmoil, both natural and man-made.

World Press Photo of the Year Jodi Bieber

2011

In 2010, nature showed its destructive power in different shapes: floods almost drowned Pakistan; Mount Merapi on Java blasted a deadly stream of hot rock, volcanic ash and pyroclastic flows; while massive earthquakes hit China and Haiti, which went under in rubble, fire and looting. Photographers were there to witness, record, and show the natural disasters, just as they were in Bangkok during demonstrations, in Budapest when a man jumped to his death, in Dalian after two oil pipelines exploded, in Duisburg when people were trampled to death, and in Karachi during target shootings.

World Press Photo of the Year Pietro Masturzo

2010

For the first time since 1979, Iranian people took to the streets to protest their government following the disputed result of the Iranian presidential election. At night, they climbed their rooftops to shout expressions of their discontent. Pietro Masturzo’s intriguing visual translation of these moments was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 2009.

World Press Photo of the Year Anthony Suau

2009

In 2008, a massive earthquake hit China, a cyclone ravaged Burma, riots gripped Greece, and Russia and Georgia went to war over South Ossetia. Less tangible, but not less intrusive, was the financial crisis that began to emerge from the severity of losses that US banks had incurred over sub-prime mortgages in 2007.

World Press Photo of the Year Tim Hetherington

2008

Many of the breaking-news stories that were awarded happened at the end of the year. On 27 December, Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, was assassinated in a bomb attack after an election rally. On the same day, riots erupted in Kenya after Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of the presidential election.

World Press Photo of the Year Spencer Platt

2007

The 2007 World Press Photo Contest reflected the worldwide football fever inspired by the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Never in its history did World Press Photo see so many football-related photo stories being awarded.

World Press Photo of the Year Finbarr O'Reilly

2006

In 2005, the superhuman force of nature dealt heavy blows across the globe. While people struggled to rebuild their lives after the tsunami in Southeast Asia, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in Louisiana and Mississippi. Meanwhile, millions of people in Niger were suffering from the worst drought since ancient times. Finbarr O’Reilly’s portrait of a mother and child in a Nigerien feeding center was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 2005.

World Press Photo of the Year Arko Datta

2005

The year 2004 ended with one of the worst natural disasters ever recorded: a magnitude-9.3 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, triggered a tsunami that wreaked havoc in nine Asian countries and killed more than 200,000 people. Arko Datta’s photo of a woman mourning a relative on the beach of Tamil Nadu was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 2004.

World Press Photo of the Year Jean-Marc Bouju

2004

The Iraq War was omnipresent in the 2004 World Press Photo Contest, just as it had dominated the 2003 international headlines. Eight prizes went to photos and photo stories of this conflict, the preceding situation and aftermath.

World Press Photo of the Year Eric Grigorian

2003

The year 2002 was characterized by the jury as a year of waiting: waiting for UN resolutions to be applied equally to all, waiting for aggressors to be punished, waiting for a war in Iraq that the world seemed unable to stop.

World Press Photo of the Year Erik Refner

2002

In terms of coverage and worldwide impact, two news events stood out in 2001: the September 11 attacks on the United States, launched by the terrorist group al-Qaida, and the subsequent intervention by NATO and allied forces in the ongoing Afghan civil war. The 2002 jury recognized many of the pictures of these events and their aftermath.

World Press Photo of the Year Lara Jo Regan

2001

The year 2000 was not dominated by one overriding, history-shaping, international news event. The World Press Photo of the Year 2000 could be related to the 2000 United States Census, which began on 1 April. Lara Jo Regan’s winning image showed a Mexican immigrant family, four of the millions of ‘uncounted’ and thus non-existing Americans, in their Texas home.

World Press Photo of the Year Claus Bjørn Larsen

2000

In 1999, the war in Kosovo was at the center of news headlines around the world for months. Many prize-winning pictures showed the perilous situation of Albanian Kosovars, who fled to neighboring Albania during the NATO bombardments, including the World Press Photo of the Year 1999 by Claus Bjørn Larsen

World Press Photo of the Year Dayna Smith

1999

Between March and September 1998, the ethnic tension in Kosovo escalated. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic-Albanians were driven from their homes. While NATO prepared for an intervention, Dayna Smith travelled to Kosovo to cover the plight of the Albanian Kosovars in the light of the coming winter, and shot her prize-winning picture of a KLA soldier’s grieving widow

World Press Photo of the Year Hocine

1998

The civil war in Algeria intensified in 1997, when the Armed Islamic Group conducted one of the most violent campaigns of civilian massacres since the beginning of the war in 1992. The World Press Photo of the Year 1997 showed a grieving woman after the massacre of Bentalha, one of the very few images that emerged from the troubled country.

World Press Photo of the Year Francesco Zizola

1997

In 1996, Angola experienced a temporary period of relief in the civil war that had been ravaging the country since its independence in 1975. The World Press Photo of the Year 1996, however, showed the traumatic effects of this protracted war on Angola’s younger generations.

World Press Photo of the Year Lucian Perkins

1996

Twenty-three years after Nick Ut photographed Kim Phuc screaming and running down a Vietnam road, she was featured again on a prize-winning photo at World Press Photo. Joe McNally portrayed Kim with her baby son in Toronto for Life magazine.

World Press Photo of the Year James Nachtwey

1995

The World Press Photo of the Year 1994 showed the mutilated face of a Rwandan man at a Red Cross hospital, photographed by James Nachtwey. The haunting image became the face of the genocide that took place in Rwanda during the spring of 1994.

World Press Photo of the Year Larry Towell

1994

On 13 September 1993, a historical handshake took place between the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Prime Minister Yitszhak Rabin after they signed the Oslo Accords. Although scores of pictures of the handshake were submitted to the contest, it was an image from Larry Towell’s photo report about life in the occupied zones that won the World Press Photo of the Year 1993.

World Press Photo of the Year James Nachtwey

1993

James Nachtwey’s image of a Somali mother carrying her dead child to the grave showed the horrible consequences of a drought coupled with the effects of an ongoing civil war. It was for the first time in 10 years, that the World Press Photo of the Year was black and white again.

World Press Photo of the Year David Turnley

1992

During the first months of 1991, the Gulf War dominated the headlines. Many prize-winning photos showed the endless burning oilfields and gushing wild oil wells, caused by the retreating Iraqi army.

World Press Photo of the Year Georges Mérillon

1991

In 1990, the opening-up of Central and Eastern Europe, after the Iron Curtain came down, led to profound shifts in political and social relations. In Poland, former trade union leader and activist Lech Walesa won the presidential elections, East and West Germany were reunited, and in the Soviet Union the demand for democratic reforms became louder and louder.

World Press Photo of the Year Charlie Cole

1990

1989 was one of those years that stand out in history, providing journalists with an endless stream of tumultuous events to cover. In Europe, a wave of revolutions swept through the socialist countries of the Warsaw Pact.

World Press Photo of the Year David Turnley

1989

A massive earthquake in Armenia mobilized international rescue teams and journalists, including American photojournalist David C. Turnley, who received his first World Press Photo of the Year award.

World Press Photo of the Year Anthony Suau

1988

Events from 1987 that were featured in the 1988 contest included: the cross-channel ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise that capsized off Zeebrugge, Gestapo chef Klaus Barbie receiving a life sentence for Nazi war crimes, and German pilot Mathias Rust after he landed his plane on Moscow’s Red Square. Anthony Suau’s image of a South Korean woman leaning against a riot policeman’s shield became World Press Photo of the Year 1987.

World Press Photo of the Year Alon Reininger

1987

In 1986, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which had been spreading quickly around the world since the late 1970s, was given a face: that of Kenneth Meeks. Alon Reininger’s haunting portrait of Meeks, dying of AIDS, his skin marked by lesions, was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 1986.

World Press Photo of the Year Frank Fournier

1986

In November 1985, the Nevado del Ruíz volcano in Colombia erupted, producing a fast-flowing sea of mud and debris which swallowed the town of Armero and killed 25,000 people. A 13-year-old girl named Omayra Sanchez became the tragic symbol of the authorities’ inability to set up an effective rescue operation.

World Press Photo of the Year Pablo Bartholomew

1985

Two tragic news events prevailed in 1984: the famine in Ethiopia and the disaster at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, which killed thousands of people. The World Press Photo of the Year 1984 was awarded to Pablo Bartholomew for his portrait of a child killed in Bhopal.

World Press Photo of the Year Mustafa Bozdemir

1984

Judging from the 1984 World Press Photo Contest, 1983 did not seem to be an uplifting year. A devastating earthquake struck Erzurum in Northeast Turkey, killing more than 1,000 people.

World Press Photo of the Year Robin Moyer

1983

In 1982, the civil war in Lebanon intensified when Christian militia killed many hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, while the Israeli army looked on without interfering. American photojournalist Robin Moyer managed to get into the camps and photographed the aftermath of the massacre, for which he was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 1982.

World Press Photo of the Year Manuel Pérez Barriopedro

1982

In February 1981, Spain’s young democracy was briefly in danger when armed Guardia Civil soldiers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina, stormed the lower house of the Spanish Parliament. Spanish photojournalist Manuel Pérez Barriopedro also witnessed the events and his photo of Lt. Col. Tejero raising his gun was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 1981.

World Press Photo of the Year Mike Wells

1981

In 1980, Uganda suffered from one of the worst famines recorded in Africa’s history, killing 21 percent of the people living there. Mike Wells’ photo of a starving child’s hand became World Press Photo of the Year 1980.

World Press Photo of the Year David Burnett

1980

In January 1979, the Vietnamese army captured the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and ended the Khmer Rouge regime. The Vietnamese invasion caused a mass migration of Cambodians fleeing to makeshift camps near the Thai border. Later, they moved to holding centers in Thailand, where David Burnett made his award-winning photo of a Cambodian mother and her child.

World Press Photo of the Year Sadayuki Mikami

1979

The 1979 World Press Photo Contest gave a kaleidoscopic overview of 1978 in the absence of one standout global news event. It included photos of the oil disaster in Brittany caused by the supertanker Amoco Cadiz, and of the crash of a Pacific Southwest Airlines jet in San Diego, killing 150 people.

World Press Photo of the Year Leslie Hammond

1978

The 1978 World Press Photo Contest reflected the troubled situation in South Africa, which frequently made the international headlines in 1977. The Soweto uprising of 16 June 1976, in protest of the enforced teaching in Afrikaans, had set off a wave of disturbances in other townships that lasted for almost a year.

World Press Photo of the Year Françoise Demulder

1977

1976 started violently in Lebanon when, in January, Christian militias overran Beirut’s Karantina district, killing approximately 1,000 to 1,500 Muslims. French photojournalist Françoise Demulder witnessed the massacre in Karantina, and became the first woman to be awarded the World Press Photo of the Year with her heartrending photo of a pleading Palestinian woman.

World Press Photo of the Year Stanley Forman

1976

The World Press Photo of the Year 1975, showing a woman hurled off a collapsing fire escape, refueled the ongoing debate in photojournalism about whether or not it is morally justified to publish pictures of people who are about to die.

World Press Photo of the Year Ovie Carter

1975

In 1974, in the Sahel, a devastating famine raged. It was in Niger that American photographer Ovie Carter made his image of a starving child that was named the World Press Photo of the Year 1974.

World Press Photo of the Year Orlando Lagos

1974

The most important news event of 1973 was the military coup in Chile, which put an end to the democratically elected government of president Salvador Allende, and subsequently his life. Photos showing Allende moments before his death only reached The New York Times and other international newspapers four months later.

World Press Photo of the Year Nick Ut

1973

The World Press Photo of the Year 1972 became one of the most iconic images that ever won the contest: Nick Ut’s photo of fleeing Kim Phuc after South Vietnamese planes mistakenly dropped napalm on her village.

World Press Photo of the Year Co Rentmeester

1967

In 1967, a color picture was named World Press Photo of the Year for the first time. Dutch photographer Co Rentmeester portrayed an American gunner in his scorching tank during a military confrontation in Vietnam for Life magazine.

World Press Photo of the Year Kyoichi Sawada

1966

In 1966, World Press Photo aimed at giving a cross-section of ‘frozen visual reality covering a year of our world,’ as could be read in the yearbook’s foreword.

World Press Photo of the Year Kyoichi Sawada

1965

In 1965, the Vietnam War became more and more visible in the news, as a result of the rapidly growing presence of American and other foreign troops in South Vietnam. In their wake, journalists from all over the world travelled to the battlefields to cover the war’s course. Japanese photographer Kyoichi Sawada won his first of two World Press Photos of the Year with a picture of a South Vietnamese family fleeing an American bombardment.

World Press Photo of the Year Don McCullin

1964

The Cyprus Civil War, which began in spring 1964, proved to be the most conspicuous international event in the ninth World Press Photo Contest. Don McCullin was duly awarded for his impressive photos, taken during his first war assignment, of the devastating intercommunal violence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

World Press Photo of the Year Malcolm W. Browne

1963

A photo of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc setting himself ablaze in Saigon was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 1963. The haunting image, which acquired iconic status over time, preceded the Vietnam War that was to dominate World Press Photo for many years to come.

World Press Photo of the Year Héctor Rondón Lovera

1962

The impact of the Berlin Wall, erected in August 1961, became increasingly visible and was an important theme at the sixth edition of the World Press Photo Contest.

World Press Photo of the Year Yasushi Nagao

1961

John F. Kennedy campaigning for US president, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev on a stroll, horrifying scenes from the Congo Crisis, and a Japanese politician assassinated in front of the cameras. In 1961, World Press Photo finally arrived on the threshold of becoming a serious world competition for press photography.

World Press Photo of the Year Stanislav Tereba

1959

The image of Sparta Praha’s lonely goalkeeper in the pouring rain was chosen as World Press Photo of the Year 1959, because it revealed, as one jury member put it, human ideology by showing a profound human conflict—to play or not to play.

World Press Photo of the Year Douglas Martin

1957

The image of Dorothy Counts keeping her head high while she walks among a jeering crowd to a recently desegregated school in North Carolina, appeared on front pages worldwide. It became the third World Press Photo of the Year.

World Press Photo of the Year Helmuth Pirath

1956

More than 10 years after World World II had ended, the last German prisoners of war were released from Soviet captivity. Their often emotional return home was captured on film many times, as could be seen at World Press Photo’s second exhibition.

World Press Photo of the Year Mogens von Haven

1955

The very first World Press Photo of the Year shows an unknown motorcyclist tumbling from his bike during a motocross race in Randers, Denmark. Danish photographer Mogens von Haven was in the right place at the right time to take this classic press photo, capturing news as it happened.