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2020 World Press Photo Contest winners

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.

Rosa Luzia Lunardi (85) is embraced by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza, at Viva Bem care home, São Paulo, Brazil, on 5 August. Photo: Mads Nissen.

‘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.

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‘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.’

Anais, 26, who wants to remove the Emancipation statue in Lincoln Park in Washington, DC, argues with a man who argues to keep it, June 25th, 2020. Critics say the Emancipation Memorial — which shows Lincoln holding a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation as an African American man in a loincloth kneels at his feet — is demeaning in its depiction of African Americans. The drive to remove the statue comes amid a wave of calls to take down monuments of Confederate generals. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein.

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.’

Fatima has nine children. In order to provide for them, she makes a living from fishing. Although her village was devastated by armed conflict in Yemen, Fatima returned to resume her livelihood, buying a boat with money she earned from selling fish. The conflict—between Houthi Shia Muslim rebels and a Sunni Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia—dates from 2014, and has led to what UNICEF has termed the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Photo: Pablo Tosco.

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’.

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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.’

California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are playful animals, native to western North America. With COVID-19 lockdowns in place across California, outdoor and natural beauty spots with plenty of wildlife became a popular focus for local travel. In many countries the wearing of face masks outdoors was obligatory. Similar destinations around the world became littered with abandoned masks. The BBC reported an estimated 129 billion disposable face masks and 65 billion throwaway gloves being used each month through the pandemic. Such personal protective equipment (PPE) can be mistaken for food by birds, fish, marine mammals, and other animals. PPE also contains plastic, and so contributes to the eight million tons of plastic that end up in the oceans every year. Photo: Ralph Pace.

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.

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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.’

Rothschild’s giraffes are a subspecies of the northern giraffe, and are classified as endangered. The giraffe is the world’s tallest land mammal and the Rothschild’s giraffe is one of the loftiest subspecies, growing up to six meters in height. Longicharo Island was once a peninsula. Rising water levels in Lake Baringo over the past ten years have cut the peninsula off to form an island. Particularly heavy rainfall in 2019 caused further floods, stranding nine giraffes. The local community worked with conservationists from the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust, and Save Giraffes Now, to build the barge and transport the marooned animals to a sanctuary in the Ruko conservancy on the shores of the lake. Photo: Ami Vitale.

Portraits Singles – The Transition: Ignat by Oleg Ponomarev

‘Ignat, a transgender man, sits with his girlfriend Maria in Saint Petersburg, Russia.’

Ignat was bullied throughout his school years, and confronted by the school psychologist following rumors that he spoke about himself using the masculine gender. Ignat opened up to the psychologist about his gender identity—the first stranger to whom he had told everything—but asked to keep it a secret. The whole school found out, and the insults and humiliations became permanent. Many LGBTQ+ people in Russia keep low profiles because of stigmatization against nontraditional sexuality. An amendment to the Russian constitution, made in July 2020, stipulates that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, with no other options possible. Photo: Oleg Ponomarev.

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.

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Sports Singles – Log Pile Bouldering by Adam Pretty

‘Georg climbs a log pile while training for bouldering, in Kochel am See, Bavaria, Germany.’

Bouldering entails climbing on small rock formations and boulders usually no more than six meters in height, without ropes or harnesses. Historically, it began as a training activity for more ambitious climbing and mountaineering pursuits, but has evolved into a sport in its own right. Rock-climbing gyms and sports facilities in Munich were closed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so athletes had become creative in their training methods. Photo: Adam Pretty.

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