Awards, Documentary, Photojournalism

Francis Kohn, chair of the 2016 World Press Photo jury, on judging the prize

After spending two days and two nights sailing on the Mediterranean Sea on the deck of the M.S.F. (Médecins Sans Frontières - Doctors Without Borders) search and rescue ship Bourbon Argos, rescued migrants - still wrapped in their emergency blankets - catch sight of the Italian coast for the first time soon after dawn. 23 August 2015 In 2015 the ever-increasing number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea on unseaworthy vessels towards Europe led to an unprecedented crisis. Nearly 120 thousand people have reached Italy in the first 8 months of the year. While the European governments struggled to deal with the influx, the death toll in the Mediterranean reached record numbers. Early in May the international medical relief organization Médecins Sans Frontières (M.S.F.) joined in the search and rescue operations led in the Mediterranean Sea and launched three ships at different stages: the Phoenix (run by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station), the Bourbon Argos and Dignity (c) Francesco Zizola

In the same boat © Francesco Zizola/Noor, who won second prize in the Contemporary Issues category

The European migrant crisis and black-and-white dominated the entries to the news and long term projects, says the World Press Photo chairman Francis Kohn.

“We had a great number of stories, the majority of stories, were on the migrant refugees in Europe,” says Francis Kohn, photo director of Agence France-Presse and chair of the 2016 World Press Photo jury of the prize this year, after judging the general news, spot news and long term project categories. “There is a big gap between these stories and Nepal – a lot on the earthquake in Nepal – I think third would be….attacks in Paris, Charlie Hebdo in January and then in November. The rest [of the stories] are quite spread out.”

Making his comments in a video made by the WPP team, Kohn added he was looking for images that witness an important event, as “this is World Press Photo”, but beyond that “obviously a picture has to be strong, compelling, has to work on so many different levels – being there, witnessing, and then it has to tell me something.”

But, he cautioned, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in monochrome – as the eventual winner, by Warren Richardson, turned out to be. “There was an overwhelming number of black-and-white [images] in the single long term project [category],” he said. “I like black-and-white, it’s great, but I think colour is good too. I don’t think photographers should think it represents an added value because it’s in black-and-white.”