Verification process

2023 Contest verification process

On this page, you can find detailed information about the verification process used for the World Press Photo Contest. As part of this process, work submitted to the contest undergoes rigorous checks in order to prove its authenticity. To provide more information on this, take a look at the following:

The World Press Photo Contest has four verification processes to ensure compliance with its code of ethics and entry rules.

1. Entry checks for:

Single, Stories and Long-Term Project entries
Our team conducts several checks to ensure entries are in line with the entry rules and category requirements, including: as only single frame photographs can be entered to these categories, we check to see if there are multiple exposures, polyptychs, stitched images or photographs with added texts or added borders; we also check whether creation and publication dates are according to the rules; and to spot any other problems that might have occurred when uploading to our entry platform.

Open Format entries
Entries in Open Format must meet the entry rules and category requirements. During an entry check our team ensures that the entries meet all the rules and requirements such as (but not limited to): The main visual content of the project must be still photography; entries in this category must have been produced or first published in 2022; all projects that include text elements must have English-language text available. In the case of video, entries must have English-language audio or include English subtitles.

2. Manipulation review for Single, Stories and Long-Term Project entries

Entry rule 17 states photographs “must not be altered by adding, rearranging, reversing, distorting or removing people and/or objects from within the frame.” For full details please see the entry rules on manipulation on the what counts as manipulation page which describes and shows what alterations to the content of a photograph are not acceptable.

There are two exceptions to this: (i) cropping that removes extraneous details is permitted; (ii) sensor dust or scratches on scans of negatives can be removed.

The process for ensuring compliance with this rule takes place during the judging process. Entrants whose photographs remain in the contest and are eligible to progress are contacted between 25 January and 25 February 2023 and required to provide the file as recorded by the camera. These files could be:

  • RAW file(s) (only 1 frame per contest image is required)
  • Full format JPEG file(s). These must be as delivered by the camera, and provided in a series showing at least seven frames (three frames before the contest entry, the frame of the actual contest entry, and three frames after the contest entry)
  • For smartphones, the unedited photograph emailed directly from the phone to and provided in a series showing at least seven frames (three frames before the contest entry, the frame of the actual contest image, and three frames after the contest image)
  • Unprocessed unedited positive scans of film negative(s), plus a contact sheet of a series showing at least seven frames (three frames before the contest entry, the frame of the actual contest entry, and three frames after the contest entry).
Failure to provide these files will lead to the elimination of the entry, making it ineligible for a possible award.

Two independent digital analysts compare original files with contest entries to determine whether the content of any photograph (either a single photograph or frame in a story) has been altered. 

3. Fact-checking

During the judging process, independent analysts will check the context in which each remaining image or story was produced, distributed and/or published. This could include (but is not limited to): if the persons named in the caption are in the photo; if an animal is depicted, is the correct species named; is the location accurate; is the date correct; etc.

Entry rule 9 states “all entries must have accurate captions,” and the guidance on captions details what information must be provided in captions.

The process for ensuring compliance with this rule takes place after the jury decides on the winners. An independent fact-checking team will review all captions to verify the completeness and accuracy of the information given. They will also examine the metadata in the photograph files.

The fact-checking process will be where clause 2 of the code of ethics (that entrants “must not intend to mislead by recreating or staging events”) is handled. Captions must explain the circumstances in which a photograph was taken. If the photographer influenced the scene in any way, or gave directions to a subject to pose in any way for a portrait, this must be disclosed in the caption.

4. Story text

Once the jury has selected the winners, the World Press Photo Foundation works with a research team to gather background information on each photograph and story. While we rely on the photographers for the basic captions, which are edited for accuracy and clarity, we often need additional information. This is so we can provide – in the yearbook, exhibition and on the website – the full story that gives the context for each photograph and story. The foundation is responsible for the content of this text. If required information is missing or incorrect, photographers will be contacted and asked to provide the correct information.

If, after an award is announced, an entry is found to have broken one or more entry rules, or contravened the code of ethics, it will be disqualified. The process for determining the status of an award will be detailed in the Judging Procedures Handbook (which will be made available to download in December 2022).

Are you looking for more specific information? Visit one of the following pages to find out more about: