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.



World Press Photo of the Year Mads Nissen


2014 was an unrelenting news year, according to jury chair Michele McNally, which brought us conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, the dissolution of the Arab Spring, and an Ebola epidemic.

World Press Photo of the Year John Stanmeyer


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. This statement does not imply, however, that important world events went missing from the selection.

World Press Photo of the Year Paul Hansen


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


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


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


In the United States, 2009 started with US President George W. Bush passing the torch to Barack Obama. The former president’s last and the new president’s first moments in the White House were captured in one of the winning stories. Meanwhile, the Gaza War, Israel’s offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza strip, dominated the news headlines and subsequently the news categories of the 2010 World Press Photo Contest.

World Press Photo of the Year Anthony Suau


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


In December 2007, Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, became Time magazine’s Person of the Year. The remarkable portrait that Platon shot for the cover was awarded first prize and became an icon over the years. Many of the breaking-news stories that were awarded happened at the end of the year.

World Press Photo of the Year Spencer Platt


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


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, leaving the United States helpless to respond accurately in the face of such disaster.

World Press Photo of the Year Arko Datta


In 2004, the war in Iraq was far from over. Winning photos showed different aspects of the conflict, including US soldiers conducting raids in search of insurgents and weapons, and portraits of US veterans injured for life.

World Press Photo of the Year Jean-Marc Bouju


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


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


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.

World Press Photo of the Year Lara Jo Regan


The year 2000 was not dominated by one overriding, history-shaping, international news event. The war in Chechnya, launched by Russia in August 1999 against Chechen separatist forces, continued and led to a grueling winter siege of the capital Grozny.

World Press Photo of the Year Claus Bjørn Larsen


In 1999, the war in Kosovo was at the center of news headlines around the world for months. Eight prizes were awarded in the 2000 World Press Photo Contest to a single picture or photo story presenting this conflict.

World Press Photo of the Year Dayna Smith


Between March and September 1998, the ethnic tension in Kosovo escalated and turned into an open conflict between the Serb police and the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Hundreds of thousands of ethnic-Albanians were driven from their homes.

World Press Photo of the Year Hocine


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.

World Press Photo of the Year Francesco Zizola


In 1996, Angola experienced a temporary period of relief in the civil war that had been ravaging the country since its independence in 1975. Very few photographs of the devastating conflict reached World Press Photo over the years.

World Press Photo of the Year Lucian Perkins


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.

World Press Photo of the Year James Nachtwey


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, when between 500,000 and 1 million people were slaughtered in the span of three months.

World Press Photo of the Year Larry Towell


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, which created the Palestinian National Authority and granted it partial control over parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. 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


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


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


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


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, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, the death of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu on Christmas Day and the installation of human rights leader and playwright Vaclav Havel as president of Czechoslovakia.

World Press Photo of the Year David Turnley


Few war photographs were awarded in the 1989 World Press Photo Contest. However, prize-winning images included pictures of the ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland and of the First Intifada, the Palestinian uprising against Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which gained momentum in 1988.

World Press Photo of the Year Anthony Suau


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, German pilot Mathias Rust after he landed his plane on Moscow’s Red Square, panic on Wall Street during plummeting stock market levels, the sabotaged presidential elections in Haiti, and US President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev signing the nuclear arms reduction treaty.

World Press Photo of the Year Alon Reininger


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.

World Press Photo of the Year Frank Fournier


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


In 1984, India’s premier Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards, Nicaragua—torn by civil war—organized elections, The Jacksons toured for the last time, Los Angeles organized the Summer Olympics, and Cuba celebrated the 25th anniversary of its revolution.

World Press Photo of the Year Mustafa Bozdemir


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. In Lebanon, the capital city Beirut, once known as the Paris of the Middle East, was rapidly being reduced to ruins by the ongoing civil war.

World Press Photo of the Year Robin Moyer


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


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.

World Press Photo of the Year Mike Wells


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


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


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


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


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


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


In 1974, democracy was resurrected in Portugal and Greece. In Portugal, the Carnation Revolution ended almost five decades of dictatorship, while in Greece severe student protests led to the downfall of the Regime of the Colonels after seven years in power.

World Press Photo of the Year Orlando Lagos


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.

World Press Photo of the Year Nick Ut


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


On New Year’s Day 1959, the Cuban revolution, which had started in July 1958, came to a turning point. Paris Match photographer Daniel Camus was on his honeymoon in Cuba and witnessed the events.

World Press Photo of the Year Douglas Martin


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


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


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.