WPP: The Nomination Process for Controversial Pictures

Last weekend, about 700 people attended the World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam, where current and previous nominees, industry experts and other people engaged in relevant audiovisual projects spoke and organized workshops for the attendees. According to the World Press Photo Festival Communications and Engagement Manager, Barbara Bufkens, speakers were selected in order to align with the core values of the organisation: “accuracy, diversity and transparency.”

On April 14th, selected speakers announced the winners among 4,548 entry photographers at the World Press Photo Festival. Since the end of the applications, photojournalism experts have served as the jury for this year’s photography contest. “[Members of the jury] are chosen according to their expertise in relation to the specific category they have been tasked to judge,” explained Bufkens.

Ever since the public announcements of the nominated pictures, on the 14th of February, these incited controversial discussions on social platforms, users contesting the jury choices. “Disgusting photo. Nice shot but horrible post[–]production” claimed the user Oushko on Instagram about Thomas Peschak’s cliché featuring penguins.


Nonetheless, Paschak was not the only photographer whose nomination was contested. Toby Melville’s picture of the Westminster bridge attack, nominated for the World Press Photo of the Year, engendered several complaints on Instagram. The picture features an injured woman landing on the floor while being assisted by a passerby after the dreadful terrorist attack last March 2017, where 5 people lost their life. Instagram user ViatgeLovers addressed the controversy, “I don’t think this picture should be nominated nor even taken. If this women is alive, has anyone asked her about it? If she’s dead…just horrible to see this picture for her family and friends.” However, according to Bufkens, “social media does not factor into the judges’ decision.” The World Press Photo contest focuses on three core verification policy: entry check, manipulation review, and fact-checking.

In the end, Ronaldo Schemidt was designated the winner of the World Press Photo of the year. Until July 22nd, 2018, over 160 nominated photographs will be displayed at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam as a public event. However, the end of the 2018 World Press Photo Festival embodies the beginning of the 2019 edition, as explained by Bufkens.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Isabel Bonnet is a 21-year-old second-year student in communication science at UvA. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Amsterdammer. Before its creation, she worked as a photo editor at the Independent Florida Alligator and did an internship at Le Monde.


World Press Photo Festival 2018: A Brief Debrief

Sala Al-Noami and Claire Chudobova / Staff Writers


Sala Al-Noami, 18, first-year communication science bachelor student, waits for Heba Khamis’ speech on the second day of the festival. Raluca Dumitrache / Staff Photographer

On the 13th and 14th of April, photographers, photojournalists, and film-makers from all around the world gathered in Amsterdam to attend the annual World Press Photo Festival. Throughout the two days of the festival, attendees were able to familiarize with short or long-term projects made by different photojournalists. The festival offered workshops where it was possible to listen to speakers’ experiences on current issues in global society. Themes included the aftermath of civil wars, the endangered nature of the global ecosystem, and an understanding of traditions around the world.

Egyptian photojournalist and storyteller, Heba Khamis, presented her work “Banned Beauty,” which focused on breast ironing in Cameroon, a practice that is believed to delay maturity and prevent girls from facing sexual violence. Recognized as a PHmuseum’s Women Photographers Grant and Ian Parry award winner, Khamis has used her camera to document Cameroonian women and their customs.


Heba Khamis, 30, storyteller and 2018 first-prize World Press Photo of the Year nominee, discusses her “Banned Beauty” project about Cameroon’s practice on breast ironing. She covered an unknown topic for the audiences and explained the reason mothers perform this act on their daughters: to protect them against sexual violence. Raluca Dumitrache / Staff Photographer

A different style of work was seen in the work of National Geographic photographer Thomas P. Peschak, a four-time 2018 Photo Contest nominee and a two-time previous winner. He has previously published 10 stories about natural history and conservation issues for the National Geographic. Peschak illustrated the endangered lives of marine iguanas, giant tortoises, penguins and albatrosses, presenting an overview of the reality of zombie mice and vampire finches. His images unveiled the reality of threatened marine life. Peschak’s goal is to raise environmental awareness by using science and photography.

Hidden cities and stories around the world came to light through the coverage of many other photojournalists present at the WPP Festival. Among them, the five-time winner of the World Press Photo contest Ami Vitale presented her three projects “Finding Stories that Connect Us,” “Pandas Gone Wild,” and  “Warriors Who Once Feared Elephants Now Protect Them.” Alternatively, Kadir van Lohuizen, presented “Wasteland,” unleashing the unfortunate misery produced by the waste in 6 megacities around the world: Jakarta, Tokyo, Lagos, New York, São Paulo and Amsterdam. “We are drowning in our waste,” he reminded the audience. Finally, Stephanie Sinclair, a World Press Photo and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist presented her Sem Presser Lecture on her ongoing 15-year series, “Too Young to Wed”.

Two main competitions were held this year during the World Press Photo Festival: the 2018 World Press Photo Contest and the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award hosted by the International Women’s Media Foundation; an award that honors female photojournalists’ who work to understand the world and inspire people to take imminent action.

Overall, American documentary photographer Andrea Bruce won first place from 136 nominations with her reportage on Afghan and Iraqi civilians during the war and its aftermath. The winner’s work was known to showcase her emotional connection and empathy towards her subjects.


Andrea Bruce, 45, winner of 2018 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award, discusses the work she has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, where she covered the impact of war on a professional and personal level. Raluca Dumitrache / Staff Photographer

Finally, Venezuelan photojournalist for the Agence France-Presse Ronaldo Schemidt was announced winner of this year’s World Press Photo of the year.  Selected from above 70,000 pictures, Schemidt captured the judges’ attention with his picture featuring Venezuelan demonstrator José Victor Salazar Balza, who accidentally caught fire in Caracas during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro in May 3, 2017.


Ronaldo Schemidt, winner of this year’s World Press Photo of the Year contest, discusses his feelings on his rewarded photograph during an interview with the Amsterdammer. Linh Dinh / The Amsterdammer

Contributing Writer, Spring 2018