1966 Photo Contest in context

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.

It included many scenes from the war in Vietnam, revealing portraits of US President Lyndon B. Johnson, a royal wedding in the Netherlands, a spectacular car crash on the Indianapolis Speedway, a thoughtful portrait of American writer James Baldwin, a street scene in Tanzania and a 160-year-old man in Azerbaijan.

World Press Photo also emphasized in the yearbook that the presented pictures were press photos, intended for publication. And although many of them were not published, their presence in the exhibition and book justified their existence as a document ‘created by those devoted their social assignment.’ This assignment was beautifully described: to make man see consciously.

In the 1966 exhibition newspaper, several jury members voiced their opinion on the present state of affairs in press photography. Chairman Derek Knight identified a considerable growth in the number of photojournalists, but also noticed that photographic skills had not improved accordingly. He ascribed this lack of technique partly to the fact that many users of photography (editors, consumers) had not progressed at the same rate.

The Associated Press’ Hal Buell had a slightly different view. In his opinion, photographers became too frequently enmeshed in the technical details of their profession, while they should be more concerned with the stories they were covering. He agreed that photos should be as artistic as possible, but also stressed that meaningful communication is frustrated by photographers who are too preoccupied with the artistic execution of their work. “If the photographer wants to be an artist he should not be a photojournalist. They are different breeds, bent on different aims, reached by different routes,” Buell concluded.

Simon Clyne, seven-time chairman of the jury, sketched a future in which one central news and pictures office would be pivotal in the distribution of news. Typesetting would be computerized and ‘telephoto machines’ would transmit photos worldwide, beating time and space to create the newspaper of today. In this new world, press photos would be well in the forefront and color a prominent feature. To survive, every craftsman in this process would have to master the new techniques.

Entry statistics
  • 650 photographers
  • 49 countries
  • 2826 pictures
  • 2731 black and white
  • 95 color
1966 Photo Contest jury
  • Harold Blumenfeld, USA, Executive Editor United Press International
  • Karl Breyer, West Germany, Photojournalist Sebaldus Verlag
  • Hal Buell, USA, Director of Photography, The Associated Press
  • Walter Heilig, East Germany, Photo Editor Zentralbild
  • F. Nosov, USSR, Editor in Chief Photo Information Tass
  • E. Schellens, Belgium, Representative Belgian Organisation of Photojournalists
  • Joop Swart, the Netherlands, Editor in Chief Avenue
  • L. Fritz Gruber, West Germany, Representative Photokina (Jury for the Most Artistic Press Photo)
  • Paul Huf, the Netherlands, photographer (Jury for the Most Artistic Press Photo)
  • L.J.F. Wijsenbeek, the Netherlands, Director Haags Gemeentemuseum (Jury for the Most Artistic Press Photo)
Chair of the jury
  • Derek Knight M.B.E., UK, Manager Press Association Ltd.

    Mrs. Sawada, wife of winner Kyoichi Sawada, is greeted by U.P.I. Director Harry Blumenfeld (left) and Morris Gordon (right) at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, December 1966 (© Peter van Zoest/ANP)

    Mrs. Sawada receives the World Press Photo of the Year Award from Prince Claus, her husband could not attend the ceremony, Ridderzaal, The Hague, 16 December 1966 (©NFP/Spaarnestad Photo)

    Prince Claus and Mrs. Sawada, The Hague, 16 December 1966 (© Eric Koch/Anefo/Nationaal Archief)

    1966 Exhibition poster

    1966 exhibition newspaper