1982 Photo Contest in context

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.

Spaniards were able to watch the events live on television since the cameras that had been recording the parliamentary session initially kept rolling. 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. The coup ended in failure nearly 18 hours later.

There were also three assassination attempts that attracted worldwide attention in 1981. On 30 March in Washington D.C., a mentally confused man fired six shots at US President Ronald Reagan, who was wounded but recovered quickly due to prompt medical attention. Pope John Paul II also recovered from wounds caused by shots fired by a Turkish man on 13 May in St. Peter’s Square. However, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat did not survive an assassination by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad during the annual military parade in Cairo on 6 October.

The photos reminded and alerted the public about the perils and tragedies of or world, jury president Patricia Seppälä wrote in her introduction to the 1982 yearbook, adding that the illustration of good and happy news also belonged to the photographer’s task. However, none of the nearly 100 submitted photos of Prince Charles’ and Lady Diana Spencer’s fairy-tale wedding was awarded. To encourage entries of more happy news, though, a new category, living, was instituted. It was quickly renamed to daily life as it initially attracted mainly photos of handicapped and seriously ill people. Another new category, nature, had a difficult start. The jury awarded only one honorable mention and two prizes, hoping to promote the participation of photographers working in this field in the future.

World Press Photo celebrated its 25th anniversary in October 1981 with a retrospective exhibition, film and publication: Eye Witness, 25 Years through World Press Photo. A jubilee survey, conducted among 50 Dutch newspapers about the state of press photography, led to the conclusion that the press photo would become more important in the future. Provided that photographers would pay more attention to depth, artistic vision and technical quality in order to compete with television. The survey also revealed that only very few photos were published with a proper credit, and that a lack of space was by far the most important reason not to publish a photo. The shocking nature of a photo was hardly decisive.

Entry statistics
  • 915 photographers
  • 51 countries
  • 5319 pictures
  • 3926 black and white
  • 1383 color
1982 Photo Contest jury
  • Gerhard Aeckerle, West Germany, Picture Editor Stern
  • Christopher Angeloglou, UK, Assistant Editor in Chief The Sunday Times
  • Rinus Ferdinandusse, the Netherlands, Editor in Chief Vrij Nederland
  • Cesar Lucas, Spain, Picture Editor Interviu magazine
  • Hiroshi Nakanishi, Japan, Picture Editor Mainichi Shimbun
  • Robert Pledge, USA, Managing Director Contact Press Images
  • Olga Suslova, USSR, Editor in Chief Soviet Photo Magazine
  • Robert Wittmann, Czechoslovakia, Chairman Photo section Czechoslovakian Organisation of Journalists
Chair of the jury
  • Patricia Seppälä, Finland, Managing Director Lehtikuva Oy
Secretary of the jury
  • Gerard Vermeulen

For the first time, the jury is voting by computer, KLM Headquarters, Amstelveen, February 1982 (© Ruud Taal/Capital Photos)

Cover 1982 yearbook

1982 Amsterdam exhibition poster

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (English edition)

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (English pocket edition)

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (American edition)

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (Danish edition)

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (Dutch edition)

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (French edition)

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (Spanish edition)

Cover of Eyewitness: 25 Years through World Press Photos (Swedish edition)