“I think that today, we need to be able to tell stories in differently, to be able to connect to as many viewers as we can,” says World Press Story of the Year-nominated Pieter Ten Hoopen. “We’re heading towards a new phase. Before, a single image could become iconic for a whole war, or a situation of despair. Now it’s different, and I think we need to be able to tell stories in a more sensitive way.”
Hoopen’s nominated photographs for World Press Story of the Year follow the movement of thousands of Central American migrants who joined a caravan heading to the United States border between October and November 2018. It is estimated that over 7,000 people – at least 2,300 of them children – joined the trek, making it the largest caravan of migrants in recent history, according to UN agencies.
“Ideally a [World Press Photo] Picture of the Year would be surprising, unique, relevant, memorable,” says Whitney C. Johnson, vice president, Visuals and Immersive Experiences, at National Geographic, and jury chair for World Press Photo’s 2019 contest.
This year John Moore has won that top spot, with an image showing Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez crying as she and her mother, Sandra Sanchez, were taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas, USA, on 12 June 2018.
This year World Press Photo also added a Story of the Year to its awards, and that prize has also been won by a project on immigration, which was shot by Sweden-based, Dutch photographer Pieter Ten Hoppen. His series shows people travelling with the largest migrant caravan in recent history, which left San Pedro Sula, Honduras on 12 October and gathered as many as 7000 people on its way to the USA, according to UN agencies – including at least 2300 children. Shot in soft colours, it focuses in on individuals in the caravan, and moments of beauty in their lives.
“Working in Yemen is extremely difficult,” says Lorenzo Tugnoli, talking to BJP by phone from Kabul. “It’s a country where you have to navigate through various factions, and there are bureaucratic obstacles on both sides. As an example, it took us months just to get a visa.
“And even when you get access, you are not allowed to have much time. For example, after long negotiation we were allowed to go to Hodeidah, but they only let us stay for a few days. I look at my pictures in the port: I was there just for half an hour.”
Even so, Tugnoli has managed to make two extended trips to Yemen – the first for three weeks in May 2018, and the second for five weeks in November and December 2018. During those trips he travelled extensively throughout the country, crossing over the frontline and into territories held by opposing forces. Showing both the conflict and its disastrous humanitarian impact, his images have been published in a series of essays by The Washington Post, and a story pulled out of those images by Tugnoli and the director of Contrasto, Giulia Tornari, has now been nominated for the very first World Press Photo Story of the Year.
“It was a really tough story to cover, because the subject wasn’t there,” says Chris McGrath. “There was so much press there, and everyone was having the same problem – I was talking with other photographers and the Getty Images office about how to tell the story. It became every day going to the same place, standing, trying to get a picture that said something.”
The story was the disappearance of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and the problem was exactly that – a Saudi Arabian journalist, author, and editor, who wrote for The Washington Post, Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on 02 October 2018 and vanished. Lurid reports that he’d been killed and dismembered soon circulated, but his body has still not been found and initially, the Saudi Arabian government denied his death. There was, as McGrath says, very little to photograph.
Then on 15 October, Saudi and Turkish officials were allowed in to inspect the building, and McGrath, along with many other journalists and photographers, went along to photograph the development. “We didn’t know when the inspectors would arrive, but everyone was there,” says McGrath. “All the press was trying to get something, and this guy was holding us back.”
Back in 2011, Mohammed Badra was studying architecture at Damascus University, a 20-minute drive from his native Douma. Then war broke out in Syria and he was forced to abandon his studies, initially becoming a first-responder for the Syrian Red Crescent, and then starting to take photographs of the conflict. “Taking a picture is documenting history,” he says simply. “I am an architecture student, I was pushed into photography.”
In 2015 Badra joined EPA [European Pressphoto Agency], working under Oliver Weiken and starting to focus in on images of children. Children are “the biggest losers in this war” he says, and there are many caught up in the crossfire, with the UN estimating that some 500,000 are currently living in 16 besieged areas in Syria.
And it’s the child that’s the really shocking factor in Badra’s photograph from Eastern Ghouta, which has been nominated for the World Press Photo of the Year. Showing victims of a suspected gas attack in hospital on 25 February 2018, the image includes a small boy hooked up to breathing apparatus.
Born and raised in Basildon in Essex, CJ Clarke grew up assuming he’d leave. “Just to stand on any street on a warm summer a ernoon is to become engulfed by a silence – a silence so vast that time seems to have disappeared,” he explains in the afterword to his book, Magic Party Place. “On such days, it really does appear like nothing has ever happened or will ever happen in the town.”
His escape route was image-making, and he moved to London years ago to study documentary photography at the London College of Communication. Like many, he had been politicised by Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war, and his first thought was to pursue photojournalism in the Middle East, in an attempt to understand Britain’s ignoble part in its history. But travelling to Lebanon in 2005 to cover the elections, he met Judah Passow, a photojournalist born in Israel, who encouraged him to think again, and in particular to believe “that there was something worth exploring at the heart of my unremarkable hometown”.
In 2016, a chance meeting with a young Iranian couple led Youness Miloudi to make his first visit to Tehran. The encounter had, evidently, made a big impression. “To be honest, I didn’t know much about the country, especially about the daily life of Iranians,” he says.
A French photographer based in Paris, Miloudi found the trip a huge learning experience. “This first visit was enough to make me realise how much I did not know this culture, and that I had, like many people, prejudices about Iran.”
With the aim of challenging his own preconceptions, and of coming closer to understanding the country, he embarked on several more trips throughout 2017 and 2018, documenting the people and places he visited. PerseFornia is one part of the resulting project, The Iranians, and consists of documentary portraits of the youth of Tehran.
Think of a horror or thriller, and you may think of the happy first half hour or so when everything seems to be going just fine. The Stepford Wives’ town initially seems like it’s perfect; The Vanishing opens with a couple going on a holiday. It’s only later that the tone takes a turn for the worse, before descending into something more substantially scary. That shift is something the residents of Amherst, Massachusetts seemingly live in fear of, because – while on the face of it their small town is an idyll – they’re constantly on the alert.
“7.32pm – Residents at The Boulders complained about a man yelling out the window in a foreign language,” reads a police report published in the local paper, the Amherst Bulletin. “The man told police he was just stating his excitement for the dinner he was about to eat.” “5.53pm – A woman called police after being approach by a photographer in downtown who asked if he could take pictures of her feet,” another reads. “The photographer was not located.”
Our next Female in Focus is Ngadi Smart. Her portraits, often of subjects with a striking sense of style, examine how people express their identity through both fashion and their surroundings. Combining photography and illustration, Smart’s work is rich with colour, pattern and personality. Ngadi Smart is a West African multi-disciplinary artist who has moved between Sierra Leone, the UK and Canada. This has given her an international and expansive worldview that radiates throughout her work. However, her West African roots remain at the forefront of her work, and much of her photography interrogates themes of identity, sexuality and feminism through an African lens. By deconstructing mainstream portrayals of the continent, Smart challenges Western perceptions of African cultures. Smart’s work is motivated by the misrepresentation of black people of colour; their varied, vibrant and broad cultures, as well as feminism and gender roles. Through art, she reconsiders what it means to be considered ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’. We spoke to Smart in light of Female in Focus, a new award that seeks to more bring diverse …
Born in 1991, Polish photographer Karol Palka is currently working on a PhD at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, which he hopes to finish in 2021. His series Edifice documents communist-era buildings in Poland and neighbouring Eastern Bloc countries. It includes shots of the Polana Hotel, once owned by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and the former office building for the management of the Nowa Huta Steelworks, which was once visited by Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro.