Humanity as a whole is, by and large, moved by images, held captive by them. Images, whether moving or still, have this unique power to alter your ideas and challenge your preconceptions and prejudices in a way that simple words on a page cannot do. In this current era, rife with AI imagery, Photoshop, fake news, and pervasive media manipulation, honest and ethical photojournalism is becoming ever more critical. As such, it deserves recognition, accolades, and, if at all possible, money. And here is where the World Press Photo Contest comes in, with prizes up to €6,000 and the prestige given by being included in their annual traveling exhibition.
Should we go over the details?
World Press Photo: An Overview
This annual contest, already in its 69th edition, aims to recognize and celebrate the best photojournalism and documentary photography produced over the last year.
They uphold diversity as a core value, both through their pricing structure —there’s no fee to enter— and their regional model, which ensures equal representation all over the world.
As Anna Lena Mehr, the contest director, wrote back in 2022, the first year where they adopted this region-based model:
“The imbalance in representation among entrants, stories and winners in our contest is something we–and I, as Contest director–have been concerned about for a while now. In 2021, only 7% of entrants came from South America, 5% from Southeast Asia and Oceania, and 3% from Africa. This is in no way representative of all the incredible talent in photojournalism across the world.”
How to enter the World Press Photo Contest?
The entries will be open through the platform Picter from December the 1st to January the 11th.
The regional winners will be announced in March 2024, and the global winners on April 2024.
Remember that this contest is open to professional photographers working in photojournalism and/or documentary photography. Emphasis on professional because they will require a document confirming your current professional status, as stated in the rules.
Why enter the World Press Photo Contest?
If you’re a professional photojournalist, entering is a no-brainer.
As stated before, entering the contest is free, something I’m sure is very appreciated by overworked and underpaid photogs all the world over.
The possible benefits are staggering; as a winner, your work would not only obtain visibility beyond our wildest dreams —the traveling exhibition, the social media platforms, the collectible yearbook— but also obtain a physical award, a thousand euros for each of the twenty-four regional winners and an additional five thousand for the four global winners and an invitation to the Winner’s Program in Amsterdam.
There’s just one small con, if it can be called so; the competition will be fierce.
A solid stance against AI
You may not be aware of this, but we in The Phoblographer have a strong conviction; AI imagery should never be afforded a place in any kind of photography contest.
This applies to any kind of contest, of course, but doubly so in this case; after all, the power of photojournalism to sway public opinion cannot be overstated.
Luckily, the standards for the World Press Photo Awards are stricter than others; while they still haven’t published the specifics for the use of AI tools, there is a rule worth mentioning.
- Entrants must provide file(s) as recorded by the camera for all images that proceed to the final stages of the contest. These file(s) will be requested and studied confidentially between 25 January and 25 February 2024. Failure to provide these files when requested will lead to the exclusion of the entry.
This, mixed with the Entry rules on manipulation available on the Contest Verification Process page, makes me believe that AI use will be kept to a minimum.
A Quick recap
If you’re a professional photojournalist, you should give this contest a try. You’ve got nothing to lose —not even an entry fee— and a chance to win a career-changing award. The competition may be fierce, yes; you only have to look at last year’s winners to see the kind of pictures you will be competing against.
But what is life if not challenging ourselves to do better?