Jury perspectives: Southeast Asia and Oceania

Maika Elan, Southeast Asia and Oceania jury chair

As members of the Southeast Asia and Oceania jury, we had the honor of reviewing an extensive range of submissions which captured the diversity and complexity of our region. Throughout our review process, we aimed to identify images and stories that best reflected the nuances and intricacies of the stories being told.

One of the most pressing issues to catch our attention was the ongoing civil war in Myanmar, which is responsible for the loss of numerous lives and the displacement of many more, with the situation continuing to deteriorate. A further crucial concern was the drug war in the Philippines, where extrajudicial killings and human rights violations are widespread. Photographs highlighted the human rights violations, and raised important questions about justice and accountability.

Climate change and environmental issues were also prominent among the submissions, particularly in Indonesia and Australia. The images and stories reminded us of the urgent need to protect our planet as a global community, and to preserve the natural habitats and wildlife that make our region so unique.
In addition to these themes, we also saw deeply moving stories of personal struggles, resilience, and identity.

These included the lives of transgender people, individuals who embrace polyamorous lifestyles, people with mental health issues, and those navigating the complexities of surrogacy. Even more straightforward narratives, such as about the changing relationships between humans and dogs in Indonesia, or the challenges of motherhood, were also encountered. These stories humanized and personalized broader issues and brought attention to marginalized voices.

At the heart of our selection process was the desire to highlight stories that not only raised awareness of important issues but also provided solutions or a call to action. We sought strong and brave stories that, in the context of our countries, may have been difficult to execute or discuss openly. Our group also discussed the connection and expansion that a story can bring, not only between the characters and the photographer, but also with the audience and among ourselves. We considered what is unique to our region and what could be representative of our region outside of it.

Ultimately, we look forward to seeing how these images will continue to spark conversation and inspire action in the years to come.

Maika Elan
2023 World Press Photo Contest Southeast Asia and Oceania jury chair

Watch the global jury present the Southeast Asia and Oceania winning works

For more information about why each 2023 World Press Contest awarded work was selected by the independent jury, read the jury report