1993 Photo Contest in context

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.

In Europe, former Yugoslavia was torn apart by a bloody civil war. While in Bangkok, people died during confrontations between the riot police and pro-democracy demonstrators. In Peru, Abimael Guzmán, leader of the Shining Path guerrilla movement, was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The beating of Rodney King by four police officers sparked mass looting and rioting in Los Angeles. In the southern states, Hurricane Andrew sowed death and destruction. After a tumultuous campaign, Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd president of the United States. The Summer Olympic Games, held in Barcelona, reflected the political state of the world with several countries competing again since many years, such as South Africa, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and a reunited Germany. While Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina made their Olympic debut, individual athletes from Yugoslavia could only participate independently, under the Olympic flag, because of the United Nations sanctions against the republic.

In the 1993 yearbook, jury chair Stephen Mayes took the opportunity to reflect on the contest itself. “Now in its 36th year, the World Press Photo Contest comprises more than a collection of random moments and events. This yearbook is part of a larger collection that is becoming an archive of our age. But the messages that this archive carries are complex—they are as much about the culture of photojournalism as about events photographed,” Mayes wrote in his foreword. He pointed out that documentary photographers offer more than a factual record of the world’s events. They provide insight, evidence, and an interpretation as well. “Throughout all this it is important to recognize that photography rarely changes the world, but it frequently changes our understanding of it. This is a huge responsibility for the professionals who make and distribute the pictures,” Mayes concluded.

During the Awards Days in April 1993, World Press Photo organized its first annual debate. Moderated by the previous year’s jury chair Randy Miller, the participants discussed the limitations and restrictions posed on photojournalism. One of the points of debate was the increasing stranglehold put on photojournalists by their sources, such as political leaders and governments, who demanded the right to review pictures in advance or restricted the photographer’s physical access to an event. Everyone acknowledged, however, that the most disturbing type of restriction was coming from within the industry: self-censorship, albeit through pressure by advertisers or the public’s supposed saturation by images of death and destruction.

Entry statistics
  • 1969 photographers
  • 84 countries
  • 19428 pictures
  • 4493 black and white
  • 14935 color
1993 Photo Contest jury
  • Floris Bergkamp, the Netherlands, picture editor Nieuwe Revu
  • Alice Rose George, USA, picture editor, media consultant
  • Hector López, Chile, photographer
  • Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Russia, photographer Magnum Photos
  • Sylvie Rebbot, France, picture editor Geo France
  • Takeyoshi Tanuma, Japan, photographer
  • Tomasz Tomaszewski, Poland, photographer
  • Alfred Yaghobzadeh, Iran, photographer Sipa Press
Chair of the jury
  • Stephen Mayes, UK, managing editor Network Photographers
Secretary of the jury
  • Adriaan Monshouwer

The 1993 World Press Photo Jury (© Ruud Taal/Capital Photos)

The jury at work, KLM Headquarters, Amstelveen, February 1993 (© Peter Dekker Audiovisuals)

James Nachtwey (right) and Paul Huf at the Awards Ceremony in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, 27 April 1993 (© Vincent Mentzel)

James Nachtwey's Golden Eye Award, designed by Gijs Bakker (© Co de Kruijf)

Joël Robine at the 1993 World Press Photo exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, April 1993 (© Klaas-Jan van der Weij)

Eugene Richards at the 1993 World Press Photo exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, April 1993 (© Klaas-Jan van der Weij)

Cristina Garcia Rodero at the 1993 World Press Photo exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, April 1993 (© Klaas-Jan van der Weij)

Bastienne Schmidt at the 1993 World Press Photo exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, April 1993 (© Klaas-Jan van der Weij)

Dominik Obertreis at the 1993 World Press Photo exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, April 1993 (© Klaas-Jan van der Weij)

Example of Ken Oosterbroek’s diploma

Cover 1993 yearbook (photo by Christopher Steele-Perkins)