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Between 1942 and 1967 a Pulitzer Prize for Photography was awarded for photojournalism, that is, for photographs telling a news story. In 1968 that award was replaced by awards in two new categories:
· the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography (photography in the nature of breaking news, as it has been called since 2000); and
· the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography (human interest and matters associated with new items).
From1955 World Press Photo has awarded prizes for the best photographs in 10 categories, with an overall award for the image that "... is not only the photojournalistic encapsulation of the year, but represents an issue, situation or event of great journalistic importance, and does so in a way that demonstrates an outstanding level of visual perception and creativity".
This series has looked at the Pulitzer and World Press Photo awards from inception and is currently up to 1979, the last year looked at.
Today that series is going to depart a little from the countdown, or more correctly, the countup, by looking at the 2015 winners. Then we’ll go back to the regular order, at least until the 2016 winners are announced.
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Pulitzer Spot (Breaking) News Photograph Winner, 2015:
According to the Pulitzer announcement:
Awarded to the St. Louis Post-DispatchPhotography Staff for powerful images of the despair and anger in Ferguson, MO, stunning photojournalism that served the community while informing the country.
Some of the images that won the award:
Edward Crawford returns a tear gas canister fired by police who were trying to disperse protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Four days earlier, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by white police officer Darren Wilson. The killing ignited riots and unrest in the St. Louis area and across the nation.
Lesley McSpadden is comforted by her husband, Louis Head, hours after the fatal police shooting of her son Michael Brown in the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson.
'Don't shoot us!,' yell residents taunting police officers who were arriving to break up an angry crowd on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, hours after an officer killed Michael Brown. Rumors state that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot by officer Darren Wilson. The night was the genesis of the 'Hand up, don't shoot!' movement that spread across the country.
A member of the St. Louis County Police tactical team fires tear gas into a crowd of people in response to a series of gunshots fired at police during demonstrations in Ferguson. For more than two weeks, police and protesters clashed nightly.
A protester shields himself from exploding tear gas canisters. On this night protesters attempted to throw Molotov cocktails, rocks and bottles at police. It was the fourth consecutive night police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Ferguson protester Cheyenne Green struggles to hold onto an American flag as a football fan makes a grab for it outside the Edward Jones Dome after a St. Louis Rams game.
Roses stretch more than 60 yards through the Canfield Green Apartments to the Michael Brown memorial as Theo Murphy and his brother Jordan Marshall light candles.
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Pulitzer Feature Photograph Winner, 2015:
According to the Pulitzer announcement:
Awarded to Daniel Berehulak, freelance photographer, The New York Times, for his gripping, courageous photographs of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Berehulak was in the middle of the Ebola Zone, spending 4 months documenting the spread of the virus, the suffering it caused and the attempts to deal with it.
According to The New York Times letter submitting the portfolio:
“His stark and irrepressible images, at once brutal and compassionate, helped force the world to care about a region where suffering is expected, even tolerated. The anguish contorting a son’s face as he loses his father, the pitched anger of a community under quarantine, the unbroken faith of health workers at prayer, the shocking sight of stiff, dying children carted off by faceless men in moon suits — Berehulak’s unforgettable pictures conveyed both the urgency of the epidemic and the humanity of its victims.”
Some of Daniel Berehulak’s images that won him the Pulitzer:
James Dorbor, 8, suspected of being infected with Ebola, is carried by medical staff to an Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, September 5, 2014. The boy, who was brought in by his father, lay outside the center for at least six hours before being seen.
Eric Gweah, 25, weeps as a burial team removes the body of his 62-year-old father, who died at home, arms thrashing and blood spewing from his mouth, in front of his sons after being turned away at the treatment centers in Monrovia, Liberia, September 18, 2014. "The only thing the government can do is come for bodies -- they are killing us," Gweah said.
A burial team transfers Mama Flomo, a 37-year-old mother of three who died before she reached a center that would treat her, to her grave adjacent to the Bong County unit, October 5, 2014. She died while giving birth prematurely.
Body collectors from the Liberian Red Cross remove a suspected Ebola victim from a home in Monrovia, September 17, 2014
About the photographer, one of our Oz boys, from the Pulitzer website:
Daniel Berehulak, 39, is an award-winning photojournalist based between Barcelona and New Delhi.
A native of Sydney, Australia, Berehulak has visited more than 60 countries covering history-shaping events including the Iraq war, the trial of Saddam Hussein, child labor in India, Afghanistan elections and the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan. He has also documented people coping with the aftermath of the Japan tsunami and the Chernobyl disaster.
He was a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of the 2010 Pakistan floods. His photography has also earned three World Press Photo awards and the John Faber award from the Overseas Press Club. In 2014 he was awarded the Freelance/Agency Photographer of the Year by Pictures of the Year International.
Born to immigrant parents, Berehulak grew up on a farm outside of Sydney. Their Ukrainian practicality did not consider photography to be a viable trade to pursue, so at an early age he worked on the farm and at his father's refrigeration company. After graduating from college, he started his career as a photographer humbly: shooting sports matches for a man who ran his business from his garage.
In 2002, he started freelancing with Getty Images in Sydney, shooting mainly sports. From 2005 to 2009, he was based in London as a staff news photographer with Getty. He moved to New Delhi to advance Getty’s coverage of the Indian subcontinent with a focus on the social and political instability of Pakistan and its neighbours.
In July 2013, Berehulak joined Reportage by Getty Images. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Time Magazine and Der Spiegel, and his work appears in newspapers and magazines worldwide.
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World Press Photo of the Year, 2015
Mads Nissen, a staff photographer for the Danish daily newspaper Politiken, has won the World Press Photo of the Year 2015 for an intimate image of Jon and Alex, two gay men in St Petersburg, Russia.
The image is part of a larger work entitled “Homophobia in Russia”, Nissen saying this on his website:
Homophobia in Russia
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) is becoming more and more difficult in Russia as sexual minorities are facing legal and social discrimination, harassment and even violent ‘hate crime’ attacks from religious and national conservative groups.
In June 2013, Russia’s homophobia moved from the streets into the country’s legislation as the State Duma unanimously adopted an anti-gay law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, effectively making it illegal to hold any gay pride events, speak in defense of gay rights, or say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships.
This reportage documents the harassment and those affected by it. It also covers the courtroom where gay activists are interrogated, the nightclub where they feel free to mingle and a lesbian family who live in fear of their three children being removed by the state because of their own personal sexuality. This is an attempt to understand what it’s like to live with forbidden love in modern Russia.
Mads’ story was largely self-funded, taken on his own time between commissioned work. When he first went to Russia on assignment, he spent time with a friend, an activist in the Gay Pride community, who was attacked in front of Mads after he kissed his boyfriend goodbye. The event inspired Mads to pursue the series, and he returned to Russia again and again.
Nissen photographed gay pride rallies in St Petersburg, capturing activist Kiriee Fedorov, 21, who was beaten by national-conservative extremists. Nissen was inches away from Fedorov as he and other activists sought cover behind the police. The picture shows him bloody and delirious after being hit by stones thrown by the crowd. The rally was declared illegal under the law banning “gay propaganda”, and Fedorov and the other LGBT activists were later arrested.
The rally followed a new law that outlawed the dissemination among minors of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations”.
Jury chair Michele McNally, director of photography and assistant managing editor of The New York Times, describes the winning photograph as a “picture of love and hate”. “It’s not a typical press image, but it’s an image that will affect millions of people across dozens of countries over the world. In a lot of countries, being gay is a very dangerous thing to be. In certain areas, they’re persecuted. But the picture speaks to me purely of love.”
World Press Photo jury member Alessia Glaviano, Senior Photo Editor of Vogue Italia, says: “Today, terrorists use graphic images for propaganda. We have to respond with something more subtle, intense and thoughtful. The photo has a message about love being an answer in the context of all that is going on in the world. It is about love as a global issue, in a way that transcends homosexuality. It sends out a strong message to the world, not just about homosexuality, but about equality, about gender, about being black or white, about all of the issues related to minorities.”
Photography theorist David Campbell, also a jury member, says: “This is a visually great photo about an important political issue in Russia and a global human rights issue. It is as newsworthy as any other photo that could have been chosen.”
Following is the text of Mads Nissen's acceptance speech, which is worth setting out in its entirety:
Your Royal Highnesses, ladies and gentlemen.
Last year, I lost a dear friend and mentor. Just two months before I took this picture. He never got to actually see the picture, but if it wasn’t for him, I never could have made it. Tonight, I think of you: Per Folkver.
Per told me that a photographer should never try to please. The biggest risk for a photographer, he said, is when we are trying to please the audience. Instead we need to challenge. Challenge how we see each other, the world and ourselves. Tonight, with this photograph, we are challenging homophobia and the hetero-normative definition of love.
Because make no mistake; in many parts of the world, distributing this image, will cost you your freedom. Being in this peaceful image will get you killed.
But when they hate – my answer is more love. When they oppress – my answer is more freedom. When they say: “Protect the children against gay propaganda”, I say, "Take it easy... it doesn’t work like that. I spent two hours in a gay bedroom and I’m still straight!"
I would like to thank those who helped me getting this story out: The jury, World Press Photo, Scanpix and my agencies Panos Pictures, LAIF and Prospekt. To my dear family, who are with me here tonight: Jeg elsker jer så meget! A big hug, to my photo chief, Thomas Borberg, and the world’s most photography-loving newspaper, Politiken.
Tonight, I think of you Jon and Alex. You, and all the other, LGBT-activists who trusted me. They want to humiliate you – but to me, you are the brave. They want to make you look weak. But I always believed, that only the strongest, dare to be vulnerable.
Before stepping on a landmine, Robert Capa was quoted for saying: “If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough,” and I always felt, that was a cliché macho comment. But maybe, I wasn’t fair to Capa. Maybe, we just need to, rediscover his words to something like this: "If our pictures aren’t good enough, we’re not emotionally close enough..."
Because, if I am not moved, touched, happy or angry when I take the picture – for sure, neither will none of you be, when you see it. This image is not trying to please. In fact, I hope, it can challenge press-photography.
Challenge, how we define closeness. Challenge, our personal involvement in the stories we do. Challenge us, to take a stand. But above all, I would like to thank World Press Photo, for giving me this opportunity, to challenge hate.
Challenge hate with something as simple as love!