World Press Photo of the Year Announced After 20% of Finalists Are Disqualified

The winners of the 58th World Press Photo Contest have been announced, and the judges had their work cut out for them. They sifted through 97,912 pictures from 5,692 photographers around the world to select photos that exemplify the highest standards of photojournalism.

Here, two members of the jury, Michele McNally and Donald Weber, discuss the winning photo:

World Press Photo of the Year 2014

Mads Nissen of Denmark won the contest with a photo he shot on May 18, 2014 in St. Petersburg, Russia:

world press photo of the year

“Jon and Alex” by Mads Nissen, Denmark, Scanpix/Panos Pictures

“Jon, 21, and Alex, 25, a gay couple, during an intimate moment. Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia. Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination, harassment, and even violent hate-crime attacks from conservative religious and nationalistic groups.”

Contest Integrity

Because the World Press Photo Contest is based on photojournalism, there is always the issue of the integrity of entries. All participants were asked to submit image files as they were recorded by the camera before they could proceed to the final stages of the contest.

World Press Photo Managing Director Lars Boering said of the findings:

“Our contest rules clearly state that the content of the image should not be altered. This year’s jury was very disappointed to discover how careless some photographers had been in post-processing their files for the contest. When this meant a material addition or subtraction in the content of the image, it lead to the images being rejected from the contest.

We believe there were no attempts to deceive or to mislead, but our independent experts found anomalies in a large number of files and presented their findings to the jury. According to the contest rules, only retouching of files that conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed, and the jury is the ultimate arbiter of these standards.

It seems some photographers can’t resist the temptation to aesthetically enhance their images during post-processing either by removing small details to ‘clean up’ an image, or sometimes by excessive toning that constitutes a material change to the image. Both types of retouching clearly compromise the integrity of the image. Consequently, the jury rejected 20 percent of those entries that had reached the penultimate round of the contest and were therefore not considered for prizes.”

First, second, and third prizes were awarded to photographers in a number of categories: Spot News, General News, Sports, Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, Portraits, Nature, and Long-Term Projects. Below are some examples of the prize winners.

Contemporary Issues, 2nd prize singles

Ronghui Chen won the second prize in the Contempoary Issues category for his photo taken on December 6, 2014 in Yiwu, China:


“Christmas Factory” by Ronghui Chen, China, City Express

“Wei, a 19-year-old Chinese worker, wearing a face mask and a Santa cap, stands next to Christmas decorations being dried in a factory, as red powder used as coloring hovers in the air. Wei needs to change the mask five times a day, and the cap protects his hair from the red dust.”

General News, 2nd prize singles

Massimo Sestini‘s photo of a boat in the Mediterranean Sea won second prize in the General News category:

world press rescue operation photo

“Rescue Operation” by Massimo Sestini, Italy

“Shipwrecked people aboard a boat are rescued 20 miles north of Libya by a frigate of the Italian navy. After hundreds of men, women and children had drowned in 2013 off the coast of Sicily and Malta, the Italian government put its navy to work under Operation Mare Nostrum rescuing refugees at sea. Only in 2014, 170,081 people were rescued and taken to Italy. More than 42,000 had come from Syria, 34,000 from Eritrea, 10,000 from Mali, 9,000 from Nigeria, as many from Gambia, 6,000 from Palestine, and more than 5,000 from Somalia.”

These photos are just a tiny sampling of the talent exuded by the competition’s many photographers. To see all the winners, visit the 2015 Contest gallery.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: