The 2020 World Press Photo Contest results are in, with Danish photographer, Mads Nissen, winning the top prize for his photo, The First Embrace, showing a nurse embracing an elderly woman in Brazil amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Australian photographer, Adam Pretty, was the only local to win a category, taking out Sports Singles category for his image, Log Pile Bouldering.
‘To me, this is a story about hope and love in the most difficult times,’ said Nissen about the photo. ‘When I learned about the crisis that was unfolding in Brazil and the poor leadership of president Bolsonaro who has been neglecting this virus from the very beginning, who’s been calling it ‘a small flu,’ I really felt an urge to do something about it.’
Contest jury member, Kevin WY Lee, describes The First Embrace as an ‘iconic image of Covid-19’, with it rolling ‘vulnerability, loved ones, loss and separation, demise, but, importantly, into one ‘graphic’ picture. The First Embrace also won the General News Singles category.
Nissen is a staff photographer for daily Danish newspaper, Politiken. This is his second World Press Photo Contest top prize, after winning it back in 2014.
The winner of the World Press Photo Story of the Year has gone to Habibi by Italian documentary photographer, Antonio Faccilongo. The series also won the Long-Term Project category.
‘The winning series chronicles love stories set against the backdrop of one of the longest and most complicated contemporary conflicts, the Israeli-Palestinian war,’ the press release says. ‘The story shows the impact of the conflict on Palestinian families, and the difficulties they face in preserving their reproductive rights and human dignity.’
Faccilongo describes his series as having the ‘ambition to be a cultural bridge to bring people together’. Jury member, Ahmed Najm, calls the ‘unique story’ a ‘masterpiece’. ‘This is a story of human struggle in the 21st century: a story about those unheard voices that can reach the world if we, the jury, act as a medium. It shows another side of the long contemporary conflict between Israel and Palestine.”
The prestigious World Press Photo Contest consists of eight categories: Contemporary Issues, Environment, General News, Long-Term Projects, Nature, Portraits, Sports, and Spot News. These categories, excluding Long-Term Projects, are separated into two sub-divisions – singles, for one image; and stories, a series of images.
This year the contest attracted 74,000 images submitted by 4315 photographers from around the world. Inside Imaging has published all the Singles category winners, and a selection of Stories winners. Enjoy Inside Imaging‘s gallery below, or click here to see all the winners.
Spots News Singles – Emancipation Memorial Debate by Evelyn Hockstein
‘A man and woman disagree on the removal of the Emancipation Memorial, in Lincoln Park, Washington DC, USA.’
Contemporary Issues Singles – Yemen: Hunger, Another War Wound by Pablo Tosco
‘Fatima and her son prepare a fishing net on a boat in Khor Omeira bay, Yemen.’
Contemporary Issues Singles – Sakhawood by Alexey Vasilyev
The people of Sakha, a republic in the far northeast of the Russian Federation, live in a remote area with extreme weather conditions: temperatures can drop as low as -50°C in winter. Although Sakha, which is also known as Yakutia, extends over more than three million square kilometers, its population numbers barely 950,000 people, around 50 percent of whom are ethnic Sakha (or Yakuts). Art has become a way of showcasing and preserving Sakha culture, traditions, and stories. Cinema has flourished there since the 1990s. Around seven to ten feature films are shot a year, by a local movie industry lightheartedly dubbed ‘Sakhawood’.
Environment Singles – California Sea Lion Plays with Mask by Ralph Pace
‘A curious California sea lion swims towards a face mask at the Breakwater dive site in Monterey, California, USA.’
Environment Stories – Pantanal Ablaze by Lalo de Almeida
Nearly a third of Brazil’s Pantanal region—the world’s largest tropical wetland and flooded grasslands, sprawling across some 140,000 to 160,000 square kilometers—was consumed by fires over the course of 2020. According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, there were triple the number of fires in 2020 compared to 2019. Fires in the Pantanal tend to burn just below the surface, fueled by highly combustible peat, which means they burn for longer and are harder to extinguish. The Pantanal, which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve and is one of Brazil’s most important biomes, is suffering its worst drought in nearly 50 years, causing fires to spread out of control. Many of the fires started from slash-and-burn farming, which has become more prevalent due to the weakening of conservation regulation and enforcement under President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration.
Nature Singles – Rescue of Giraffes from Flooding Island by Ami Vitale
‘A Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is transported to safety in a custom-built barge from a flooded Longicharo Island, Lake Baringo, in western Kenya.’
Portraits Singles – The Transition: Ignat by Oleg Ponomarev
‘Ignat, a transgender man, sits with his girlfriend Maria in Saint Petersburg, Russia.’
Portraits Stories – The ‘Ameriguns’ by Gabriele Galimberti
According to the Small Arms Survey—an independent global research project based in Geneva, Switzerland—half of all the firearms owned by private citizens in the world, for non-military purposes, are in the USA. The survey states that the number of firearms exceeds the country’s population: 393 million guns to 328 million people. Gun ownership is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which dates from 1791 and has long been a controversial issue in American legal, political, and social discourse. Those who argue for the repeal of the Second Amendment or introduction of stricter gun control say that the Second Amendment was intended for militias; that stronger regulation will reduce gun violence; and that a majority of Americans, including gun owners, support new restrictions. Second Amendment supporters state that it protects an individual’s right to own guns; that guns are needed for self-defense against threats ranging from local criminals to foreign invaders; and that gun ownership deters crime rather than causes more crime. The US has had more mass shootings than any other country on the planet. According to the independent Gun Violence Archive (GVA), there were 633 mass shootings in 2020 alone.
Sports Singles – Log Pile Bouldering by Adam Pretty
‘Georg climbs a log pile while training for bouldering, in Kochel am See, Bavaria, Germany.’