Sala Al-Noami and Claire Chudobova / Staff Writers
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.
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.
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.