2020 Contests Winners Announced

Introducing the 2020 Photo Contest and Digital Storytelling Contest winners

Since 1955 the World Press Photo Contest has recognized professional photographers for the best pictures contributing to the past year of visual journalism. On 16 April 2020, we announced the winners of the 63rd edition of the annual Photo Contest and 10th Digital Storytelling Contest.

See all the winning images from the 2020 World Press Photo Contest
The winners were chosen by an independent jury that reviewed more than 73,996 photographs entered by 4,282 photographers from 125 countries.

View all the winning productions from the 2020 Digital Storytelling Contest
287 productions were entered to the contest: 81 Interactive, 88 Short, and 108 Long.

World Press Photo of the Year

Straight Voice
Yasuyoshi Chiba, Japan, Agence France-Presse

The independent jury of the 2020 Photo Contest has awarded Japanese photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba’s image Straight Voice as the World Press Photo of the Year. In the image, we see a young man, illuminated by mobile phones, reciting protest poetry while demonstrators chant slogans calling for civilian rule, during a blackout in Khartoum, Sudan, on 19 June 2019.

Yasuyoshi Chiba, World Press Photo of the Year winner, said: “The place was a total blackout. Then, unexpectedly, people started clapping hands in the dark. People held up mobile phones to illuminate a young man in the center. He recited a famous protest poem, an improvised one. Between his breath, everybody shouted ‘thawra’, the word revolution in Arabic. His facial expression and voice impressed me, I couldn’t stop focusing on him and captured the moment.

Protests had begun in the eastern city of Atbara in Sudan in December 2018, reportedly against the tripling of the price of bread, but then broadened in focus and had spread rapidly throughout the country. By April 2019, protesters demanded an end to the 30-year rule of dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from office on 11 April in a military coup. Protests continued, calling for power to be handed to civilian groups. On 3 June, government forces opened fire on unarmed protesters. Scores of people were killed and many more subject to further violence. Three days later the African Union suspended Sudan, in the midst of widespread international condemnation of the attack. The authorities sought to defuse protests by imposing blackouts, and shutting down the internet. Despite another severe crackdown on 30 June, the pro-democracy movement was eventually successful in signing a power-sharing agreement with the military, on 17 August.

Read the article by NRC (in Dutch), about Mohamed, the young man in the photograph: www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2020/04/17/ineens-werd-de-foto-doorgestuurd-a3997132

Yasuyoshi Chiba is Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) Chief Photographer for East Africa and Indian Ocean, currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. After studying photography at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, he started working as a staff photographer for Asahi Shimbun. He became a freelance photographer and moved to Kenya in 2007, and then joined AFP in Brazil in 2011.

World Press Photo Story of the Year

Kho, the Genesis of a Revolt
Romain Laurendeau, France 

Kho, the Genesis of a Revolt (the word means ‘brother’ in colloquial North-African Arabic) is the story of the deep unease of youth, who, by daring to challenge authority, inspired the rest of the population to join their action, giving birth to the largest protest movement in Algeria in decades.

Young people make up more than half of Algeria’s population, and according to a UNESCO report 72% of people under 30 in Algeria are unemployed. Shot over five years, the project follows the youth in working-class neighbourhoods in Algiers in their everyday life. Football, for many young men, becomes both an identity and a means of escape, with quasi-political groups of fans known as ‘Ultras’ playing a large and sometimes violent role in protests. Young people also often seek refuge in diki—private places that are ‘bubbles of freedom’ away from the gaze of society and from conservative social values. But the sense of community and solidarity is often not enough to erase the trials of poor living conditions.

Romain Laurendeau, World Press Photo Story of the Year winner, said: “It was impossible for a part of me not to recognize myself in these young people. They are young but they are tired of this situation and they just want to live like everyone else.

Romain Laurendeau has worked on long term projects as a professional photographer in France, Senegal, Algeria, the Palestinian territories and Israel. After a corneal transplant in 2009, he decided to travel extensively to document the human condition in all of its social, economic and political aspects.

World Press Photo Interactive of the Year

Battleground PolyU
DJ Clark/China Daily

Battleground PolyU is a 360 degree experience that immerses the viewer in a defining moment in the history of democracy in Hong Kong. Tensions during the Hong Kong protests reached a peak in November 2019 after a protester was shot by a traffic policeman. Students occupied university campuses across the city and blocked key highways. After a fierce battle at the Chinese University, attention turned to the blockade at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) where students had closed off the Cross-Harbour Tunnel leading to it.

In Battleground PolyU, the viewer becomes part of the demonstrations, running along with the protesters and the journalists covering the protests. DJ Clark, producer and editor of the awarded production, said: “I had been capturing the protests for about six months up until the point the PolyU demonstrations happened. During that process I had been playing around with equipment and trying to get something that worked. 360 cameras are very light-weight cameras and I could capture action when I was in the midst of it. The biggest thing about this movie for me is the opportunity for future audiences to immerse themselves in the experience and understand what it was like to be there.

DJ Clark is Multimedia Director at China Daily Asia Pacific, host and producer of the show Drone & Phone, and course leader for the University of Bolton MA in Visual Journalism. He has over 30 years of experience working with media organizations across the world as a video producer, photojournalist, presenter, writer, trainer and multimedia consultant. 

World Press Photo Online Video of the Year

Scenes From a Dry City
Francois Verster/Simon Wood/Field of Vision

Scenes from a Dry City exposes the exacerbation of social inequality due to water shortage in Cape Town, South Africa. The city has been experiencing a severe water crisis since early 2017 when the municipal government began pleading with its 4.5 million residents to conserve water.

The production reflects on the impact of the global climate crisis in both the landscape and society. Poetic drone images are mixed with the perspectives of car washers, demonstrators against water privatization, and golfers playing on green courses.

Francois Vernster, co-director, producer, cinematographer and writer, said: “Simon and I were both astounded when we read about the prospect of day zero, the day when the taps will be turned off, arriving. I think the first time it was mentioned was the year we made the film. The predictions were that the day will be by March already.” (...) “We thought this would be a good opportunity to give insight into Cape Town’s inequality.

Simon Wood, co-director, producer, cinematographer and writer, added: “We wanted to create something futuristic, something that would allow us to peek into the future and imagine a world without water.”

Francois Verster is a South African documentary filmmaker following creative and observational approaches to social issues. Simon Wood is a filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa.