Arrest of protesters in Harlem, New York City, during a demonstration against police tactics and income inequality. New York, USA, 25 October © Tomasz Lazar, Poland, 2nd prize People in the News Singles, World Press Photo.
With 2011 marked by revolutions across the Arab world, a devastating Tsunami in Japan, unprecedented killings in Mexico, the judges for this year's World Press Photo knew they would have hundreds of thousands of images to go though before finding the one, iconic picture that would tour the world.
But, says Aidan Sullivan, the chair of the jury and a vice-president at Getty Images, the common denominator was the people. "The people who were brave enough, and courageous enough to come out of their homes and businesses, and get on the streets and stand up to dictatorships," he tells BJP. "There was this collective feeling that enough was enough. Brave, ordinary people were taking to the streets to fight these regimes that had been in power for so long. That personal element of the Arab Spring was the main subject of discussion in the last few days of judging."
The jury, says Sullivan, was looking at different pictures of people fighting in Tahrir Square and in other cities across the Arab world, until Samuel Aranda's picture came along. "We put it on the table and we just thought that it was beautifully shot, and that it was a clearly moving, compassionate moment. It shows two very ordinary people who have been incredibly courageous and decided to stand up and protest against what they believed to be a bad government - taking the power into their own hands."
That doesn't mean that judges' ultimate choice was easy, Sullivan adds. "We saw some incredible work from Norway, we saw images from Mexico that were very moving, and the same with the Tsunami - but, in the end, when you put all the pictures in front of you, it's about the one that you think will resonate and tell a story. In the end, it was perhaps subtle, but it's a beautiful, poignant and compassionate image. There were thousands of photographs of bloodshed, decapitations, summary executions - all of these played a big part in what went on, but in the end, for us, it was about the people."
Sullivan also paid tribute to photographer themselves. "The overriding thing this year, the thing that all the judges were talking about, was the price that has been paid - when we lost Chris [Hondros], Tim [Hetherington], Anton [Hammerl] and the others," he tells BJP. "This goes to show that without the courage of photojournalists, without their dedication, we would not see this kind of images, we wouldn't know that these things are going on. We have to pay tribute to them."
For more coverage of the World Press Photo results, check www.bjp-online.com/tag/world-press-photo.
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