2015 Contest in context

2014 was an unrelenting news year, according to jury chair Michele McNally, which brought us conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, the dissolution of the Arab Spring, and an Ebola epidemic.

“Syria continued on a course of demolition, as the group that calls itself Islamic State went on with its brutal campaign,” she wrote in the 2015 yearbook, “but photographers around the world bravely navigated these treacherous and dangerous situations, and provided images of places most of us would never see.”

The jury of the 58th annual World Press Photo Contest selected an image by Danish photographer Mads Nissen as the World Press Photo of the Year 2014. The picture shows Jon and Alex, a gay couple, during an intimate moment in St Petersburg, Russia. Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people was becoming increasingly difficult in Russia. Sexual minorities faced legal and social discrimination, harassment, and even violent hate-crime attacks from conservative religious and nationalistic groups. The winning picture belongs to a larger project by Nissen called “Homophobia in Russia”.

According to jury member Alessia Glaviano, “The photo has a message about love being an answer in the context of all that is going on in the world. It is about love as a global issue, in a way that transcends homosexuality. It sends out a strong message to the world, not just about homosexuality, but about equality, about gender, about being black or white, about all of the issues related to minorities.”

Following the rejection of 22 entries that had reached the final stages of the 2015 World Press Photo Contest—20 for the addition or removal of details, and two for the original files not being made available for verification—during the Awards Days in April, a panel of experts came together to discuss current standards in post-processing, and to cast an eye towards the future. David Campbell, author of a World Press Photo report on current international industry consensus in this regard, outlined one of the main points in his report: there is clear agreement that manipulation is unacceptable when there was material alteration by addition or subtraction. Managing Director Lars Boering expressed World Press Photo’s commitment to engaging in a dialogue with the international photojournalistic community to help create a deeper understanding of the issues involved.

Two weeks after the announcement of the prizewinners, World Press Photo had withdrawn the award from the first prize in the category Contemporary Issues by Giovanni Troilo, due to misleading information submitted by the photographer. In a separate roundtable discussion during the Awards Days, another panel discussion took place about whether the same ethical standards should be applied to photojournalism and documentary photography, when it comes to such issues as staging and self-expression.

See a list of all participating photographers.

Entry statistics
  • 5692 photographers
  • 131 countries
  • 97912 pictures
2015 Photo Contest jury
  • Walter Astrada, Argentina, freelance photographer (News jury)
  • Mikko Takkunen, Finland, associate photo editor Time (News jury)
  • Donald Weber, Canada, photographer (Documentary jury chair)
  • Mariella Furrer, Switzerland, photographer (Documentary jury)
  • Munem Wasif, Bangladesh, photographer Agence Vu (Documentary jury chair)
  • Mark Baker, Australia/New Zealand, Southeast Asia photo editor The Associated Press (AP) (Sports jury chair)
  • Bob Martin, UK, photographer (Sports jury)
  • How Hwee Young, Singapore, regional chief photographer China region European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) (Sports jury)
  • Peter-Matthias Gaede, Germany, journalist and consultant executive board member Gruner + Jahr (Nature jury chair)
  • Bruno D’Amicis, Italy, photographer (Nature jury)
  • Cristina Mittermeier, Mexico/USA, executive director Sea Legacy (Nature jury)
  • Alessia Glaviano, Italy, senior photo editor Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue (Portraits jury chair)
  • Laura Pannack, UK, photographer (Portraits jury)
  • Azubuike Nwagbogu, Nigeria, director African Artists’ Foundation (Portraits jury)
  • Patrick Baz, France/Lebanon, photo manager for the MENA region Agence France-Presse (General jury)
  • Pamela Chen, USA, editorial director Instagram (General jury)
Chair of the jury
  • Michele McNally, USA, director of photography and assistant managing editor The New York Times
Secretary of the jury
  • David Campbell, Australia, writer, professor and producer (Documentary and general jury)
  • Simon Njami, Cameroon, independent curator, lecturer and art critic (Specialized juries)
  • Maria Mann, USA, director international relations, European Pressphoto Agency (Specialized juries)

The 2015 World Press Photo Contest jury. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

The Documentary jury gets instructions for the judging. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Members of the Nature jury study the screen during the judging. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Members of the Sports jury during the judging. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Documentary jury. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

The specialized juries hand the contest over to the general jury with a meeting. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

The specialized jury members hand the contest over to the general jury with a meeting. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

The general jury walks to the World Press Photo office in Amsterdam during the final round of judging. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

The general jury makes its final decisions. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Viewing of the winners. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

New managing director Lars Boering is interviewed during the viewing of the winners. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Prizewinner Sofia Valiente stands in front of her photos in the 2015 Exhibition. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

New Managing Director Lars Boering addresses guests during the Canon Prizewinners Dinner. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

World Press Photo of the Year 2014 winner Mads Nissen stands with his photo at the 2015 Exhibition during the 2015 Awards Days. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Winner of the Year 2014 Mads Nissen with his Golden Eye Award during the 2015 Awards Ceremony. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Andy Rocchelli's sister accepts his award and gives a speech about her late brother at the 2015 Awards Ceremony. (© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte)

Cover 2015 yearbook