I wrote this (for drool) last year. It was about this image, which won "Photo Of The Year". . .
©John Stanmeyer. WPP picture of the year 2013
The World Press Photo thing is a big deal. They pick a bunch of winners in a bunch of categories. Press fotografy (and reportage and the document) are their raison d'etre, so it goes without saying that that focuses the scope of what they consider.
This year, as always, many fantastic images have been chosen. The World Press
Photo website is always a place to go to see what's what, what certain factions
of the powers-that-be believe is important. Congratulations to all those picked.
This year they chose, as Photo Of The Year, a shot by John Stanmeyer of some African migrants trying to get cellphone reception. Beautiful and evocative, no doubt about it.
The following comments are about the selection of this particular image . . .
The thing that rankles me about this Photo of the Year is the melodrama and
idealization of how the subject is rendered. It kind of reminds me of fotos that
get a lot of likes on Facebook and Flickr . You know: it's so easy to be seduced
and/or distracted by its surface. And this melodrama seems to tilt the idea of
how we are supposed to see the world.
I'm not saying that dramatic situations should be shunned. Not at all. What I'm
saying is that dramatic situations don't need to be idealized to pack a punch.
I understand that press fotografers, and other media types, need to reach out
and grab an audience. But one of the things that bugs me about how the media
represents things in general is that they, the media, usually go out of their way
to show us idealized versions of what the world, both the good and the bad, is
about. And any idealization is, by definition, a kind of fiction.
Here's this year's "Photo Of The Year". . .
Change my comments from "African migrants trying to get cellphone reception" to "a gay couple, during an intimate moment in St Petersburg, Russia" and everything else I said a year ago still stands.
© Mads Nissen WPP picture of the year 2013