2002 Photo Contest in context

In terms of coverage and worldwide impact, two news events stood out in 2001: the September 11 attacks on the United States, launched by the terrorist group al-Qaida, and the subsequent intervention by NATO and allied forces in the ongoing Afghan civil war.

The 2002 jury recognized many of the pictures of these events and their aftermath. Prize-winning pictures of other events included the clashes between the police and anti-globalization protesters during the G8 Summit in Genoa, the devastating earthquake in Gujarat, India, and the wave of intensified violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

The World Press Photo of the Year 2001 was awarded to a photo made well before 9/11. Danish photojournalist Erik Refner received the premium award for his heartrending image of an Afghan baby who died of dehydration in a refugee camp in Pakistan in June 2001. Refner’s photo story about the refugee camp was awarded a prize in the people in the news category as well.

As Roger Hutchings, chairman of the 2002 jury, explained in the yearbook, there had been a consensus within the jury that many events of 2001 were somehow linked together, and that a lot of innocent people were caught up in the consequences of interrelated power games worldwide. Hutchings wrote about the winning image: “It is simple, iconic and symbolic. It comes from a set explaining the plight of the Afghans and it is about something, which goes to the root of our current travails. It represents a world of have-nots as opposed to the world of haves, which is so resented by some and longed for by others. It points towards matters which need to be addressed and, with the benefit of hindsight, it reproaches us for having ignored Afghanistan since the end of the Cold War.”

The last annual World Press Photo Awards Days debate addressed an issue which stemmed directly from the events following 9/11 and touched upon the very essence of the photojournalistic profession: the freedom of the press. In their ‘war on terrorism’, the United States and its allies imposed heavy restrictions on journalists, making independent war reporting in Afghanistan near impossible. In Israel, the Foreign Press Association had to threaten court action against the Israeli government before they would allow a photo pool into Jenin refugee camp, where a few weeks prior to the debate an intense battle had taken place. Many attending the discussion feared that press restrictions would become a worldwide phenomenon and an obvious solution did not seem easily available.

In 2002, the number of digital entries to the contest for the first time exceeded the number of analog entries. In four years, the percentage had gone from 6 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2002. Although the technical quality of the digital pictures varied enormously, innovations in digital photography were very much welcomed by the 2002 jury, who explicitly acknowledged the fact that it enabled photographers to operate more efficiently by reducing costs and freed them from the physical constraints.

Entry statistics
  • 4171 photographers
  • 123 countries
  • 49235 pictures
2002 Photo Contest jury
  • Kadir van Lohuizen, the Netherlands, photographer Agence Vu (first-round jury)
  • Sylvie Rebbot, France, picture editor Geo France (first-round jury)
  • Reza, France, photographer National Geographic (first-round jury)
  • Ana Cecilia Gonzales-Vigil, Peru, picture editor El Comercio (first-round jury)
  • Nicole Aeby, Switzerland, managing editor Lookat Photos (secound-round jury)
  • Vincent Alabiso, USA, vice president and executive picture editor The Associated Press (secound-round jury)
  • Yuri Kozyrev, Russia, photographer (secound-round jury)
  • Jean-François Leroy, France, director Visa pour l'Image (secound-round jury)
  • Herbert Mabuza, South Africa, photographer and picture editor Sunday Times (secound-round jury)
  • Susan Olle, Australia, art director Time South Pacific (secound-round jury)
  • Prashant Panjiar, India, deputy editor Indian Express (secound-round jury)
  • Maggie Steber, USA, director of photography The Miami Herald (secound-round jury)
Chair of the jury
  • Roger Hutchings, UK, photographer Network Photographers
Secretary of the jury
  • Adriaan Monshouwer

The jury at work in the Obrechtkerk, Amsterdam, February 2002 (© Captial Photos)

Winners of the 2002 World Press Photo contest in the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, 21 April 2002 (© Capital Photos)

Erik Refner receives his award from Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam, at the Awards Ceremony in the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam. 21 April 2002 (© Capital Photos)

Erik Refner and Job Cohen at the Awards Ceremony, Amsterdam, 21 April 2002 (© Capital Photos)

Erik Refner with his Golden Eye Award, Amsterdam, 21 April 2002 (© Capital Photos)

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

Cover 2002 yearbook