2007 Photo Contest in context

The 2007 World Press Photo Contest reflected the worldwide football fever inspired by the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Never in its history did World Press Photo see so many football-related photo stories being awarded.

These included a sequence of the controversial head-butt in the chest of Marco Materazzi by French captain Zinédine Zidane during the finals, a series of portraits of famous players pictured immediately after a match, anxious football fans in and around the stadiums, Chinese students practicing heading techniques at a football club in Beijing, and a photo story about the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club in Sierra Leone.

Three days after Italy won the World Cup, on 12 July, Israeli troops invaded Lebanon in response to Hezbollah’s kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of three. The war ended 34 days later, on 14 August, when a ceasefire, brokered by the United Nations, went into effect. The conflict was widely covered by the press, and many pictures were awarded. However, both sides were accused of manipulating the media to their own ends, as one winning image tried to illustrate. The World Press Photo of the Year 2006 showed a group of young Lebanese returning home in a borrowed car on 15 August to find their neighborhood unrecognizably devastated.

When Spencer Platt’s winning picture was first published, it confused many who saw it. The importance of a precise caption became immediately clear as, in some cases, the media described the family as ‘affluent’ and even called them ‘disaster tourists’. The surreal juxtaposition of the well-dressed young Lebanese with the destroyed buildings led some critics to accuse the photo of having been altered. For the 2007 World Press Photo Contest jury, it was precisely this ambiguity that made the photo so interesting. “Like other winning photos in the contest, this is a complicated picture, truthfully reflecting the complex reality of the world we live in,” jury president Michelle McNally wrote in the 2007 yearbook.

For the 5th Sem Presser Lecture, photographer and researcher Susan Meiselas, talked about “Collaborative Projects”, by which she did not mean ‘collaborative’ in the sense of working together, but in the sense of returning photographs to their subjects, to taking pictures back to where they were made. “How do we create a circle? That has become a central question for me. We don’t know who the people in our pictures are. Can we find out? Do we want to find out? Do we want them to comment on the photographs we make?... Where do pictures belong?” Meiselas asked her audience, explaining how she tried to find answers in her projects in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Kurdistan.

Entry statistics
  • 4460 photographers
  • 124 countries
  • 78083 pictures
2007 Photo Contest jury
  • Peter Bialobrzeski, Germany, photographer Laif Photos & Reportagen
  • Philip Blenkinsop, Australia, photographer Agence Vu
  • Ruth Eichhorn, Germany, director of photography Geo
  • Adrian Evans, UK, director Panos Pictures
  • Maya Goded, Mexico, photographer Magnum Photos
  • Diego Goldberg, Argentina, photographer
  • Wen Huang, People's Republic of China, picture editor Xinhua News Agency
  • Alexander Joe, Zimbabwe, photographer Agence France-Presse
  • Jerry Lampen, the Netherlands, photographer Reuters
  • Jean-François Leroy, France, director Visa pour l’Image
  • Maria Mann, USA, photography consultant
Chair of the jury
  • Michele McNally, USA, assistant managing editor The New York Times
Secretary of the jury
  • Stephen Mayes, UK, director Image Archive Art + Commerce Anthology

The 2007 World Press Photo Jury (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Jury member Diego Goldberg during the first-round judging, February 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Jury member Peter Bialobrzeski during the second-round judging, February 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

The jury at work, Amsterdam, February 2009 (© Philip Blenkinsop)

Winner Peter Schols during the press conference in the Amsterdam City Hall, 9 February 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Spencer Platt receives the Golden Eye Award from Job Cohen, the Mayor of Amsterdam, during the Awards Ceremony in the Oude Kerk, 22 April 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Spencer Platt's Golden Eye Award, designed by Gijs Bakker (Co de Kruijf)

Paul Nicklen presents his work during the Awards Days in Felix Meritis, Amsterdam, 21 April 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Susan Meiselas presents the 5th Sem Presser Lecture during the Awards Days in Felix Meritis, Amsterdam, 21 April 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Winners Mathias Braschler & Monika Fischer in the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, 20 April 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Winner Joao Kehl in the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, 20 April 2007 (© Allard de Witte/Hollandse Hoogte)

Cover 2007 yearbook