2006 Photo Contest in context

In 2005, the superhuman force of nature dealt heavy blows across the globe. While people struggled to rebuild their lives after the tsunami in Southeast Asia, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in Louisiana and Mississippi, leaving the United States helpless to respond accurately in the face of such disaster.

Several months later, a powerful earthquake hit Kashmir killing tens of thousands of people. Meanwhile, millions of people in Niger were suffering from the worst drought since ancient times. Finbarr O’Reilly’s portrait of a mother and child in a Nigerien feeding center was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 2005.

“Ten million people die of starvation every year … more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined,” James Colton, chairman of the 2006 World Press Photo Contest jury, wrote in the 2006 yearbook. “Finbarr O’Reilly’s World Press Photo of the Year is a stark reminder of a story that got very little attention last year. In addition to all of the other natural disasters, famine should never be placed on the back burners of life,” he explained. Prior to judging, Colton told World Press Photo’s Review what he expected from a World Press Photo of the Year: “The picture has to stir up a kind of visceral reaction in the viewer. This can range from making you cry to just disturbing you. It has to squeeze your heart, provoke a reaction. The winning picture has to be news-related, but I don’t think there are many other hard and fast rules about it.”

The 2006 Sem Presser Lecture was delivered by photographer and art director Oliviero Toscani, famous—notorious, some will say—for the use of press photos in his advertisement campaigns for Benetton. He expressed his unorthodox opinions on photography in a presentation titled “There isn’t photography and photography – there is just photography.” In his lecture, he dismissed the value of archives (“what is not published is not a photograph”), attacked the categorization of photographic fields (“some people even describe themselves as ‘concerned’ photographers. But we are all concerned, aren’t we?”), admonished the audience to be positive (“No one will ever see the world like you do, so you’d better take your responsibility”), and campaigned in favor of creativity and against mediocrity, bureaucracy and conformism (“We like to live in the past, because it is more comfortable. People have always tried to avoid the present”).

Entry statistics
  • 4448 photographers
  • 122 countries
  • 83044 pictures
2006 Photo Contest jury
  • Paula Bronstein, USA, staff photographer Getty Images - Asia
  • Per Folkver, Denmark, picture editor in chief Politiken
  • Janine Haidar, Lebanon, photo editor Agence France-Presse
  • Magdalena Herrera, France/Cuba, art director National Geographic
  • Wen Huang, People's Republic of China, picture editor Xinhua News Agency
  • Gary Knight, UK, photographer VII
  • Eliane Laffont, France, editorial director Hachette Filipacchi Photos
  • Greg Marinovich, South Africa, picture editor Sunday Times
  • Ricardo Mazalan, Argentina, photographer The Associated Press
  • Simon Njami, Cameroon, artistic director Rencontres Africaines
  • Kathy Ryan, USA, photo editor The New York Times Magazine
  • Stephan Vanfleteren, Belgium, photographer
Chair of the jury
  • James Colton, USA, photo editor Sports Illustrated
Secretary of the jury
  • Stephen Mayes, UK, director Art + Commerce Anthology, New York

The 2006 World Press Photo jury (© Bastiaan Heus/Hollandse Hoogte)

Winners of the 2006 World Press Photo Contest, Amsterdam, 21 April 2006 (© Bastiaan Heus/Hollandse Hoogte)

Finbarr O’Reilly with his Golden Eye Awards, Amsterdam, 23 April 2006 (© Bastiaan Heus/Hollandse Hoogte)

Finbarr O'Reilly's Golden Eye Award, designed by Gijs Bakker (© Co de Kruijf)

Chris Hondros being interviewed on stage during the Awards Ceremony in the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, 23 April 2006 (© Bastiaan Heus/Hollandse Hoogte)

Todd Heisler presenting his work at the Awards Days in Felix Meritis, Amsterdam, 22 April 2006 (© Bastiaan Heus/Hollandse Hoogte)

Oliviero Toscani presents the 4th Sem Presser Lecture during the Awards Days in Felix Meritis, 22 April 2006 (© Rob Huibers/Hollandse Hoogte)

Cover 2006 yearbook