Photographers in view

by World Press Photo

It is to be expected that photographers themselves would appear in the World Press Photo collection.

World-famous portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh, for example, who was portrayed by John McDonnell in 1981, and fashion photographers Bert Stern and Jean-Baptiste Mondino who turned up in Véronique Vial’s 1997 winning portrait series of famous men before 10 a.m. But the collection also includes a nameless photographer, pictured by Christian Keenan, who earns a living by photographing people in front of the Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, China, and the studio of an Iraqi village photographer who portrays freedom fighters photographed by Francesco Zizola.


Quite often, though, photographers are something of an inevitability in the picture. At some events or photo opportunities it is just simply impossible to avoid your colleagues snapping away. A bit like Torbjörn Andersson must have experienced when he portrayed Danish billionaire Simon Spies and his bride at their wedding in 1983. Or Sadayuki Mikami when he photographed two grieving relatives of passengers killed when a Korean airliner was shot down over Sakhalin by the Soviet Union.

Interesting perspective

However, these photos offer an interesting perspective on the handlings of the press, the creation of news, and the relationship between photographer and subject. In 1986, Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov was literally mobbed by the media at his arrival in Moscow after seven years of exile. Glasnost in the Soviet Union not only allowed Sakharov to return home, but also enabled the press to record his return as ITAR-TASS photographer Valentin Kuzmin showed. In the United States, ‘first cat elect’ Socks was beleaguered by the press, when his owner Bill Clinton was elected to be 42nd president of the United States. Mike Nelson’s picture of the scene is a perfect example of the extremes some news may generate.


In 2006, during the Lebanon War, Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans made a picture of paramedics holding up the dead body of a child before members of the press. Both sides in the conflict were accused of manipulating the media to their own ends. Allegations were made—largely by bloggers over the Internet—that situations had been staged for the press for propaganda purposes.

John McDonnell

Véronique Vial

Véronique Vial

Christian Keenan

Francesco Zizola

Torbjörn Andersson

Sadayuki Mikami

Valentin Kuzmin

Mike Nelson

Jeroen Oerlemans