1974 Photo Contest in context

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. The photographer remained anonymous until 2007, when he died and his identity was revealed to be Orlando Lagos, a governmental staff photographer at the time.

Another socialist leader in the news was West German chancellor Willy Brandt, who invited Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to Bonn in 1973 to promote the normalization of relations between West Germany and Eastern Europe. The Vietnam War generated positive pictures for the first time, such as the release of American and North-Vietnamese prisoners of war, following the peace agreement between the United States and North Vietnam.

The jury was unanimous in their choice to present the World Press Photo of the Year award to the anonymous Chilean photographer. Although jury member John Morris, picture editor of The New York Times, refrained from voting as he had been specifically asked by chairman Joop Swart to submit the photo to the contest. Incidentally, this request was in complete agreement with the recurring advice of former jury members to seek actively for interesting contest material. The participation of well-known press photographers remained somewhat problematic, and the lack of good material, such as darkroom equipment and printing paper, proved to be a serious obstacle in Asian and African countries.

In a joint interview, jury member Dmitri Baltermants and John Morris looked back on their experience. Baltermants emphasized the importance of competitions and exhibitions in the Soviet Union, as they provided photographers with the rare possibility of presenting their work uncut and for a wide audience. Morris drew attention to the collapse of the picture magazine, which had robbed many great photographers from their livelihood. Talent is not enough anymore, Morris warned, nowadays ideas and enterprise count as well.

Entry statistics
  • 603 photographers
  • 38 countries
  • 3532 pictures
  • 2939 black and white
  • 693 color
1974 Photo Contest jury
  • Dmitry Baltermants, USSR, deputy editor Ogonyok
  • Alok B. Guha, India, director Land & Life Photonews Agency
  • Eva Keleti, Hungary, photojournalist and lecturer International School of Journalism, Budapest
  • John G. Morris, USA, editor New York Times Pictures
  • Michael Rand, UK, managing editor Sunday Times Magazine
  • Hugo Schöttle, West Germany, photojournalist and president 'Bild' section Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie
  • Kazimierz Seko, Poland, photojournalist, manager Central Photo Agency Katowice
  • Gerard Vermeulen, the Netherlands, editor in chief Panorama
Chair of the jury
  • Joop Swart, the Netherlands, editor in chief Avenue

    Henk Kersting, Director of World Press Photo, in his office during the registration period, Amsterdam, February 1974 (© Vincent Mentzel)

    Joop Swart and John G. Morris with the World Press Photo of the Year 1973, Amsterdam, 6 March 1974 (© Kazimierz Seko)

    Dane N. Bath, picture editor of the New York Times, receives The Golden Eye Award from Prince Bernhard, on behalf of the anonymous photographer, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 29 March 1974 (© ANP)

    Prince Bernhard and Dutch winner Cor Mooij, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 29 March 1974 (© NFP/Spaarnestad Photo)

    Cover 1974 yearbook (front, photo by Marty Feldman)

    Cover 1974 yearbook (back)