World Press Photo announces 2014 winner, 8% of finalists disqualified for manipulating


posted Friday, February 14, 2014 at 1:34 PM EST

Signal by John Stanmeyer

Last year, the Word Press Photo award was given to photographer Paul Hansen for his image of a Palestinian funeral procession—a decision that became deeply controversial amidst claims of photo manipulation and an internal probe. Now, the 2014 World Press Photo award has been given out, and the new, more stringent manipulation rules have caught out a surprising number of entrants.

The World Press Photo of the Year, as well as first prize for Contemporary Issues, went to John Stanmeyer and his photo Signal. The image shows African migrants in Djibouti holding up their cellphones in the dark, hoping to get a signal from nearby Somalia. In a press release, jury member Jillian Edelstein said of the image:

“It’s a photo that is connected to so many other stories—it opens up discussions about technology, globalization, migration, poverty, desperation, alienation, humanity. It’s a very sophisticated, powerfully nuanced image. It is so subtly done, so poetic, yet instilled with meaning, conveying issues of great gravity and concern in the world today.”

As part of the accusations against last year's winner, this year saw the competition significantly overhaul its rules about acceptable levels of photo manipulation. Yet, even with the wide publicity around the move, a large number of finalists were still disqualified. In fact, according to the BJP, a whopping 8% of finalists fell afoul of regulations. Jury chair Gary Knight said:

“On the one hand, I was really distressed, especially because so much of the post-processing that had made these images ineligible was absolutely unnecessary. It was materially minute but ethically significant. Or it was just laziness – it was photographers trying to turn a pig’s ears into a silk purse. One image in one story disqualified the whole story. And the image could have been photographed differently if the photographer had bent his knees a bit more. It was stupidity.”

Nevertheless, this year's winners are yet again extremely powerful images from the year over. The winner of each division takes home 1,500 euro as a prize, with the Photo of the Year also netting 10,000 euro, as well as a Canon camera and lens.

Signal by John Stanmeyer, winner World Press Photo of the Year, Contemporary Issues, 1st prize singles
Blind Indian Albino Boys by Brent Stirton, Staged Portraits, 1st prize singles
Typhoon Survivors by Philippe Lopez, Spot News, 1st prize singles
Polo Fall by Emiliano Lasalvia, Sports Action, 1st prize singles
Kachin Fighters by Julius Schrank, Daily Life, 1st prize singles
Fennec Fox, a Species in Danger by Bruno D'Amicis, Nature, 1st prize singles