“Truth doesn’t reveal itself by accident”


José Cendón travelled on a motorbike in Central Africa. During his trip he photographed men and women that suffer from post-war trauma in psychiatric hospitals.
Arturo Rodríguez lives in Tenerife and witnesses every day the arrival on small wooden boats of hundreds of people that seek a better life in Europe.

Mohammed Ballas captured the moment of the execution of a suspected “collaborator” by two Palestinian gunmen and made his first trip out of the Palestinian territories to receive his award. “Every morning when I leave my house I don’t know if I am going to see my children again”.

These are some of the faces that gathered in Amsterdam to attend the Award Ceremony of the World Press Photo contest, which is at its 51st edition. For some days, the photographers have been the protagonists of the news, and not the observers of realities that are often forgotten by the rest of the world.

They don’t have an easy life, either. Most of the times they travel on their own expenses and produce their reportages hoping to sell them to the news agencies. And their destinations are not touristic resorts, but war zones, suburbs, refugee camps. Like Walter Astrada, who saw through his lens the “femicide” that affects Guatemala, where women are victims of a wave of violence that continues since 2001. Sometimes what the photographers see can’t simply be shown.

“We have difficulties to sell images of an intolerant or xenophobic Europe” reckons Dèsireé Martín, which works with Arturo Rodríguez in the Canary Islands and was given some days later the Ortega y Gasset Award. “Immigration has always characterized human history and the governments of Europe need to acknowledge that sending those people back into poverty is not a viable solution”.

At the Award Ceremony the Chairman of the Executive Board Gerrit Jan Wolffensperger made his final speech for the World Press Photo after 21 years of commitment. He pointed out that in the age of multimedia and new technologies everybody is taking pictures. But there is a “division of roles” between non-professional photographers and photojournalists. The photojournalist doesn’t happen to be in a certain place by chance. He looks for the truth; he studies the background, maintaining his integrity. And he doesn’t take an excellent picture because of luck, as “truth doesn’t reveal itself by accident”.

In the last years World Press Photo has been extending its activities to educational programs around the world. It organizes the annual Joop Swart Masterclass, as well as seminars and workshops which encourage the transfer of knowledge in developing countries.

The picture at the top of the page has been taken for Reuters by Akintunde Akinleye. The photographer was a participant of the first photojournalism course organized by World Press Photo in cooperation with the Nigerian Institute for Journalism. His picture showing a man in front of a petrol pipeline explosion in Lagos won the 1st prize singles in the Spot News category: the student has exceeded all expectations.

From 24 April the 2007 the World Press Photo exhibition will open to the public in the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam and will subsequently travel to over 85 cities around the world.

To have an overview of all the winning pictures, visit the World Press Photo website.