This is a surprising year for followers and fans of the World Press Photo Award, because it’s the first time the Foundation has unveiled its nominees for the Photo of the Year before actually revealing the winner. This has produced a completely different level of excitement for the audience. Each of the 6 images is stunning, and some websites have started doing some polling on them. (So far, Ronaldo Schemidt, a photographer from Venezuela, is the solid favorite among the general public.)
Schemidt's picture shows José Victor Salazar Balza after he caught fire during one of the many violent clashes that have taken place in Venezuela since people started protesting against the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro. The image is shocking indeed, just like the other 5 nominees you can see here. But today we want to get away from the spotlight and focus on the other categories beyond the highly desired and prestigious “Photo of the Year” award, which is akin to the Oscar in Photography.
- Contemporary Issues
As its name states, the Contemporary Issues award focuses on topics that matter the most to the general public. Each year, certain topics become quite edgy, and these are the ones that end up in the “Contemporary Issues” category. The three nominees are Jesco Denzel, Giulio Di Sturco and Roger Turesson. All of them capture extremely compelling moments, but Di Sturco's image requires less contextual knowledge and explanation to make a huge worldwide impact.
We are devouring our planet, which is no secret. Some people pollute and despoil in disgustingly selfish ways, while others give their two cents to help change things for better. The Environment category award is given to the photographer who manages to direct the most attention to the atrocities that we as humans are still perpetrating today. All three images from Neil Aldridge and Thomas P. Peschak are powerful and should be seen by everyone.
- General News
General News usually refers to the most important news – and as you might have guessed, this is where the most raw and bloody images are usually found (along with Spot News). General News photos are usually explicit and straightforward, and this year the nominees are the Australian photographer Patrick Brown (whose image has also been nominated for the Photo of the Year Award [HIGHLY EXPLICIT]), Richard Tsong-Taatarii and Md Masfiqur Akhtar Sohan.
- Long-Term Projects
Photography always loves long-term projects. Since the early beginnings of photographic documentaries – like those from the New Deal period – we have seen countless long-term projects that have given humanity a different perspective regarding a particular subject. This is category doesn’t have single-image winners; all the projects are a collection of images on a particular subject. The three nominees for this magnificent award are the Spanish photographer Javier Arcenillas, whose project is entitled “Latidoamerica“; Dutch photographer Carla Kogelman (for Ich Bin Waldviertel or “I'm Waldviertel); and last but not least, Italian photographer Fausto Podavini (for Omo Change).
The great difference between environment and nature imagery involves how the photographs have been categorized because of the photographer’s approach. Any photographer can depict our planet in a way elicits complaint or contemplation. The Nature category can be seen as an homage to wildlife. Here we can see wildlife’s harshest moments, rapidly changing ecosystems, and wildlife in its most pristine conditions. The three nominees for a single image are the American photographers Corey Arnold, Michael Patrick O'Neill and the aforementioned Thomas P. Peschak.
This huge category is well suited to photographers who have accomplished an extremely difficult task: summarizing a whole story in one single image. That is the ultimate essence of the images you can see in the selections made for the “People” award. As a street photographer, images with People move me the most, and the three images here are, without question, clear examples of what a single image can say. The three nominees for this meaningful category are the Chinese photographer Li Huaifeng, Italian photographer Alessio Mamo and Swedish photographer Magnus Wennman.
Even when someone isn't a sports fanatic, truly striking sports photographs are impressive. They are filled with passion, all sorts of emotion and fast motion in many cases. The three nominees for a single image in the Sports category are Stephen McCarthy, Erik Sampers and Oliver Scarff. Sports can be a contest against oneself, or against a huge collective. This year, we have three examples of how people compete against each other in teams or as a one-man army against the world.
- Spot News
Spot news is usually defined as a series of news of events reported as they occur, from the place they are occurring, and this is perhaps where many photojournalists have been struggling the most thanks to the modern photographic democracy we enjoy today. Nevertheless, this award is one of the most exciting. This year the nominees are Ryan Kelly, Ronaldo Schemidt (the popular favorite so far for the Photo of the Year Award) and Goran Tomasevic. Viewer discretion is advised.
Our opinion is extremely personal, and we recognize that every nominee for any World Press Photo Award is an extremely talented and highly committed photographer. We at Light Stalking salute their vocation, respect the way they do their job and encourage them to keep pushing themselves (which know is hard) to seek truth and objectivity with their cameras.
It’s important to mention that we’ve only discussed the single-image nominees in every categories but Long-Term Projects. Take a look at all the images about to become history thanks to the 2018 World Press Photo here – and please share your thoughts on them with us.