2000 Photo Contest in context

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.

Many prize-winning pictures showed the perilous situation of Albanian Kosovars, who fled to neighboring Albania during the NATO bombardments, including the World Press Photo of the Year 1999 by Claus Bjørn Larsen. According to the 2000 World Press Photo Contest jury, the photographic quality of the subject among the entries had been so strong, it was only natural to find more items about Kosovo than any other event.

As jury president Mark Grosset wrote in his foreword to the 2000 yearbook: “Whether you like it or not, events in Kosovo belong to the major moments of last year. It is not that often that NATO goes to war. As for the picture itself, we felt that it possessed very strong photographic qualities. The immobility, the static aspect of it, is re-enforced by the look in the man’s eyes. It gives free rein to the viewer’s imagination, which is one of the very points of photography. It is a still photograph and not a motion picture.”

Grosset also stressed that it had been very difficult, if not impossible, for photojournalists to work in other conflict zones, such as Chechnya or Liberia. Blaming political and military leaders, who seemed to have learned the lessons of Vietnam, he wrote: “Paradoxically, it is this kind of censorship that points up the function of journalism, and the necessity of remaining vigilant in defense of freedom of press.”

Notwithstanding these remarks, the tumultuous events in Indonesia were also well represented in the 2000 contest. In June, Megawati Sukarnoputri’s PDI party won the first democratic elections. When parliament did not elect her as president, severe street violence broke out in Jakarta. At the same time, violence intensified in East Timor. After a referendum that resulted in an 80 percent vote for independence from Indonesia, tension escalated as pro-Indonesian militia went on a rampage, killing independence supporters and setting fire to buildings.

The annual World Press Photo Awards Days debate focused on the future of photojournalism by tackling the question: How will the market for photography develop in the 21st century? According to the panel, which included photographer Tim Hetherington and critic A.D. Coleman, the future promised a wealth of opportunities, with new technologies offering great speed of production and transmission and the options of using sound and video, while keeping editorial control. Internet was to play a major role in presenting images, portfolios and exhibitions to billions of people. And multi-purposing would become paramount by targeting both traditional venues, such as magazine and exhibitions, and new outlets, like websites and multimedia productions. On the other hand, everyone agreed that copyrights and contracts should be treated with caution and attention.

Entry statistics
  • 3981 photographers
  • 122 countries
  • 42215 pictures
  • 14391 black and white
  • 27824 color
2000 Photo Contest jury
  • Pablo Bartholomew, India, photographer
  • Robin Comley, South Africa, picture editor The Star
  • Peter Dejong, the Netherlands, photographer The Associated Press
  • Roger Hutchings, UK, photographer Network Photographers
  • Margot Klingsporn, Germany, director Focus Photo und Presse Agentur
  • Kadir van Lohuizen, the Netherlands, photographer Agence Vu
  • Michele McNally, USA, picture editor Fortune
  • Krzysztof Miller, Poland, photographer Gazeta Wyborcza
  • Grazia Neri, Italy, president Grazia Neri
  • Don Rypka, USA, picture editor La Nación, Argentina
  • Sally Stapleton, USA, senior international photo editor The Associated Press
  • Xia Daoling, People's Republic of China, vice chairman Shanghai Photographers Association
Chair of the jury
  • Mark Grosset, France, director Rapho
Secretary of the jury
  • Adriaan Monshouwer

The 2nd-round jury, KLM Headquarters, Amstelveen, February 2000 (© Ruud Taal/Capital Photos)

The jury at work in the KLM Headquarters, Amstelveen, February 2000 (© Ruud Taal/Capital Photos)

Entry rules 2000 contest

Claus Bjørn Larsen's Golden Eye Award, designed by Gijs Bakker (© Co de Kruijf)

Cover 2000 yearbook

Opening of the World Press Photo exhibition in Beijing (© Unknown)