Two of the most prestigious photographic awards are the annual Pulitzer Prize for Photography, begun in 1942, and the World Press Photograph of the Year, begun in 1955. I have commenced posting the annual winners, commencing from the 1942 Pulitzer, with particulars of the photograph and the story behind it. In doing so, I have discovered interesting facts and insights which I will share with you as I post these winning photographs from time to time.
The 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Photography has just been awarded and it is interesting to note how the subject matter of the photographs over the years has changed, to observe the changes in society’s concerns, as well as changes in the nature, style and technology of the photographs.
Pulitzer Prize for Photography 2012:
The following winning photograph and comments are from the Sydney Morning Herald:
A detail from the photograph:
The photographer behind a heartbreaking image of an Afghan girl crying in fear after a suicide bombing has been awarded the Pulitzer for best breaking news photography.
Agence France-Presse Afghan photographer Massoud Hossaini was awarded the Pulitzer, the most prestigious US journalism prize, on Monday.
Hossaini's picture of the girl standing among a pile of bodies captured the devastation in the immediate aftermath of the attack on a Shiite shrine. He was just metres away when the bomb went off on December 6, 2011, killing at least 70 people.
In an interview at the time, Hossaini described what happened: ''I was just looking at my camera when suddenly there was a big explosion. For a moment I didn't know anything, I just felt the wave of the explosion as a pain inside my body. I fell down on the ground. When the smoke went away I saw I was standing in the centre of a circle of dead bodies. 'They were all together on top of each other. I was standing exactly where the suicide attacker had been.''
Hossaini said he was in ''shock'' and initially ''didn't know what to do''.
''I knew I should cover this, record everything, all the pain, the people running, crying, shouting, beating their chests, shouting: 'Death to al-Qaeda, death to the Taliban!' ''
Hossaini said he turned to the right and saw the girl, Tarana, whose age has been given as either 10 or 12.
''When Tarana saw what had happened to her brother, her cousins, uncles, mother, grandmother, the people around her, she was just shouting,'' he said.
It was the 96th Pulitzer awards for excellence in reporting.
World Press Photograph of the Year for 2011:
In February of this year the 2011 World Press Photograph of the Year was awarded to Samuel Aranda, a freelance photographer from Spain, for a photograph of a woman holding a wounded relative in her arms, inside a mosque used as a field hospital by demonstrators against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2011.
According to jurors on the selection panel, the photograph captured multiple facets of the "Arab Spring" uprisings across the Middle East last year. Jury chair Aidan Sullivan said: "The winning photo shows a poignant, compassionate moment, the human consequence of an enormous event, an event that is still going on. We might never know who this woman is, cradling an injured relative, but together they become a living image of the courage of ordinary people that helped create an important chapter in the history of the Middle East."
Aranda has commented that "What I would really like is for this photo to help the people of Yemen. I think it's a country that is often forgotten."