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World Press Photo: “Stories are about people,” says Bernat Armangué

“As wire photographers, we usually provide daily content but, in locations such as this, we try to go deeper into what the war is.” Bernat Armangué speaks to BJP about his World Press Photo winning set of images, working for the wires and reaching a wide audience. Interview by Lauren Heinz

Spanish photographer Bernat Armangué has been shooting on the streets of Gaza, working for the AP team in Israel and the occupied territories, for the past four-and-a-half years. He was in Gaza last November to cover the 11-day conflict that broke out.

His set of images from the conflict represent a harrowing account of the airstrikes, injuries and deaths but also life continuing in spite of this. “As wire photographers, we usually provide daily content but, in locations such as this, we try to go deeper into what the war is.”

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One of Armangué’s most recognisable photographs is that of a man grieving for the loss of a relative in a morgue. Armangué explains that this image has resonated with audiences as well as with himself. “There is always a strange position you have with your pictures; different translations to what other people see. Nothing is planned in war but you know more or less what you have to do. In this case I was on my way back to transfer images and I stopped in a morgue and I witnessed this very short but very intense moment. Seeing this man whispering goodbye to his relative and kissing his hand was a very strange and tender moment.”

Winning the award is, for Armangué, a positive step towards bringing awareness of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. “As a photographer I’m very lucky because I work for a wire that can reach a lot of readers. Obviously the fact that I’ve won makes it come back to light for a few seconds or days, so it’s always good to give people extra time to think about something.”

This year’s World Press Photo of the Year was also shot in Gaza in November 2012 yet Armangué remarks that the image, as well as other winning images from past years, are not about Gaza, Syria or Libya as such but are “about people” and the importance of bringing these images to a wide audience.

Several stories and images from Associated Press have won World Press Photo awards this year and Armangué attributes this to the sheer amount of work produced by AP photographers.

“Wires get a lot of press because there are so many wire photographers all over the world. The amount we produce is quite big. But there are other freelancers and smaller agencies that also tell stories, sometimes in ways wires cannot – we have to follow some basic rules. In the end it’s about telling stories and everyone has his own place to tell stories. That’s what counts at the end of day.”