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John Stanmeyer wins World Press Photo of the Year

By dpreview staff on Feb 14, 2014 at 18:30 GMT
 World Press Photo of the Year by John Stanmeyer

American photographer John Stanmeyer's image of migrants on the shore of Djibouti city raising their cell phones attempting to capture a signal from neighboring Somalia was named World Press Photo of the Year. The picture also won first prize in the Contemporary Issues category. Stanmeyer of the VII Photo Agency was on assignment for National Geographic when he shot the photograph. 

"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," said Jillian Edelstein, one of the contest judges

Winners in each category receive a cash prize of €1,500 (~$2053). The World Press Photo of the Year winner carries a cash prize of €10,000 (~$13,686). All prize-winning pictures will be featured in an exhibition that travels to more than 100 cities in over 45 countries. It opens in Amsterdam on April 18

Learn more

What do you think of Stanmeyer's photograph? Would you have picked a different image? 

Comments

Total comments: 83
12
Noogy
By Noogy (2 months ago)

Apple's designer once said "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." This photo deserves my applause.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (2 months ago)

Every prize winner of every event resonates and displays the stupidity or magnificence of the judges.

Don't judge the picture.

Judge the judges.

Either they are all stupid and idiots, or magnificent judges.

Ultimately, it is Vox Populi.

Thank you, DPR for providing that VOX Populi.

.

2 upvotes
BaldCol
By BaldCol (2 months ago)

It wouldn't be a DPR news article without a flood of negativity.

6 upvotes
Lensmate
By Lensmate (2 months ago)

Get real..........!! You probably enjoy adverts and commercials rather than art!
This is not a good photo at all. Its an advert pretending to be otherwise...........pffffffff !

1 upvote
RStyga
By RStyga (2 months ago)

This not the photo of the year. Whatever it is, it is not that. Personally, I think it has really catchy elements but it is not award-deserving. Hail, politics and "free" market...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
BaldCol
By BaldCol (2 months ago)

But it is, because the people who decide say it is.

3 upvotes
AlexCHStudio
By AlexCHStudio (2 months ago)

this picture, that requires a book of explanation what it shows, is the "photo of the year" you say? what a joke! bravo!

0 upvotes
Ron Wischer
By Ron Wischer (2 months ago)

Migrants and Cell Phones ?
Isn't that like
Poverty and Savings Bonds...

0 upvotes
contadorfan
By contadorfan (2 months ago)

No. Inexpensive cell phones have been a boon for Africa, bypassing the need for constructing costly telephone lines through difficult terrain. The biggest growth in the telecom industry has been in the Third World. Those cheap Dumb Phones we all got rid of have been put to good use there.

5 upvotes
Noogy
By Noogy (2 months ago)

Really? Last that I know, the mobile phones of people in Thailand are much more updated than those found in the US. I think the US is still half a generation behind the latest and the greatest mobile phone models. It's probably because of the stupid carrier subsidies mentality. Hardly anyone buys subsidized models in Asia because it's so easy (and it's much cheaper) to buy unlocked ones.

0 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (2 months ago)

Conspiracy theorists.. reason why this photo won:

http://learn.usa.canon.com/resources/videos/interviews/vii_interview_stanmeyer.shtml

http://stanmeyer.com/blog/pages/whats-the-kit/

http://www.worldpressphoto.org/canon

0 upvotes
ppires85
By ppires85 (2 months ago)

One more that agrees with the other people saying that it is a good photo, but not award winning(I can't say that's minority anymore). Looking at the picture didn't lead me to understanding it. Ok. No problem. Now for the idea. Looks like a strong moment (if not staged as people said). Alright. But lately I've seen more dramatic and better photos (technique) from the protests in Ukraine for example.

So I don't know... sometimes I feel like Sebastiao Salgado's legacy on social photography (sorry for the bad english) left a bad cliche for themes. I'm not crticizing Salgado's work, it is very sensible. But people are overusing some of the similar themes in a weird way.

And sorry, it really looks like staged. The three upper cellphones look aligned in a diagonal and the other from the bottom seems to close a triangle. It really doesn't look natural...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
santamonica812
By santamonica812 (2 months ago)

It's a perfectly nice image. Very moody. But best shot of the year? I dunno . . . I share the reservations givens by many of the prior posters.

A very odd choice by the editors.

1 upvote
AV Janus
By AV Janus (2 months ago)

So is this a roaming costs issue?
If so, than a well deserved win. There are no more important issues in our ever increasingly globalised world...

/end sarcasm

2 upvotes
Bulva
By Bulva (2 months ago)

I always thought that photographs must be self explaining. With one glimpse you know without sophisticated stories.
I do not know whether that photograph would win if it would bear description "amateur enthusiast astronoms takes photos of new comet seen over Black Sea using their mobile phones"

4 upvotes
Hinder
By Hinder (2 months ago)

I don't believe holding your phone up two feet higher across open waters will do anything to boost a signal. Looks staged. How do we know these guys weren't just too cheap to go inside the concert and are rocking' out outside the stadium?

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Lensmate
By Lensmate (2 months ago)

Meh......Looks like a cell phone picture advertising more goofy 'sellphones'
What a dorky world we live in when 'phones' rule our lives........
might as well celebrate a 'ball and chain' ........

3 upvotes
dgeugene1
By dgeugene1 (2 months ago)

Nothing beats a beautiful "nuanced", "poetic" image of people dealing with "poverty, desperation, alienation".

Romantic crap.

6 upvotes
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (2 months ago)

MAGNIFICENT!

amazing piece of photo journalism. Everyone in the photograph is alive.

not a war zone picture. Story is dramatic but lovely amazing image.

6 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (2 months ago)

A beautiful, touching, imaginative photo that looks like what Rembrandt might do if he lived today.

3 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

Although it exists as opinion (and opinions should be respected), the recurrent commentary that this winning image is unsuccessful somehow because it does not present a comprehensive narrative is simply not taking into consideration its context. It was used to augment a narrative, and as such serves as a visual poetic dimension to the narrative. So, to stand alone is not its role. And this is the operation of many such images. This notion that an image must "stand alone" belies the diversity of functions a photograph might embody, and is an example of misguided dogma relating to photography. Even a fine art photograph needn't present a complete narrative; often individual images in a series, or as part of a longer artistic dialog on the part of the artist, can work as only a fragment of a larger expression or narrative.

13 upvotes
Michel F
By Michel F (2 months ago)

This is the smartest comment yet. I agree that sometimes images with diverse and complex meaning can't always be self explanatory on their own. Even without knowing the meaning it's still an interesting photograph artistically.

4 upvotes
dgeugene1
By dgeugene1 (2 months ago)

Well said but after all this is just a photo contest and you gotta have a winner.

3 upvotes
tarsus
By tarsus (2 months ago)

Actually, photo journalism is supposed to be a complete narrative in a picture. That is, by definition, it's purpose. This shot isn't it. Not even close.

6 upvotes
OneMoreComment
By OneMoreComment (2 months ago)

-The extra Terrestrial- seeking for signal.
And like Digitall says :"……..an image that is not explicit suffering and despair, tears and blood … "

2 upvotes
Pap38
By Pap38 (2 months ago)

where's the story? a picture is worth a thousand words...not here. Are they awaiting the arrival of their space ship? Is there a rock concert in the sky? It's pretty, but doesn't live on it's own.
Pap

7 upvotes
tarsus
By tarsus (2 months ago)

I'm with the minority here. Photo journalism means the picture tells an engaging story by itself, evoking an emotion. This picture does nothing of the kind as it is impossible to know what it is without the text. Take the time to look at the other winners. They tell stand alone stories. Although a technical achievement, without an explanation, you're left to guess what the heck it is.

10 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

It is necessary to observe its original context to understand that being a stand alone image (despite other images in the field being that) is not a criterion used to assess the merits of this image. Perhaps, that is what you prefer - and others, too - and that is fine.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Kavu
By Kavu (2 months ago)

meh...

2 upvotes
pew pew
By pew pew (2 months ago)

I like the photo, for me it has a sci fi touch, like someone was taking pictures off a ufo in the sky lol

0 upvotes
Lightpath48
By Lightpath48 (2 months ago)

A somewhat mystifying and beautifully composed photo! Having read others' comments so far, I also misinterpreted the intent of the subjects. My impression was also that they were attempting to photograph the moon or night sky. The photographer's context and explanation made a great photo even greater for me. Either way, it wins.

2 upvotes
Sal18
By Sal18 (2 months ago)

Congratulations on a wonderful and beautiful photo. It proves there is beauty to be found everywhere if you know how to look for it. And capture it.

1 upvote
Petrogel
By Petrogel (2 months ago)

It's nice NOT to see photo-edited human anglyness getting one more -first prize-

0 upvotes
Teru Kage
By Teru Kage (2 months ago)

The composition is so good (the position of the people and the number of lit phone screens form different triangles within the frame), it's difficult not to suspect that this photo was posed. Not that that takes anything away from the beauty of the photo; I'm just saying that if this was a natural photo, Stanmeyer was in the right place at the right time.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (2 months ago)

Finally won an image that is not explicit suffering and despair, tears and blood ...
Very good image and story behind the image!

16 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (2 months ago)

Pretty cheap. The prize.

1 upvote
nickthetasmaniac
By nickthetasmaniac (2 months ago)

If people haven't read he Nat Geo article that this was shot for, I highly recommend it - fantastic journalism.

4 upvotes
hajime93
By hajime93 (2 months ago)

do you have a link to it?

0 upvotes
Deutsch
By Deutsch (2 months ago)

If you didn't know the story, you could say this was a group of amateur astronomists trying to capture the full moon. So the story behind the photo has a lot to do with it. I suppose you have to submit the story with the photo, but that could give the judges a slight bias rather than the photo standing alone. Now I understand why this topic can be debatable. Nothing wrong with the photo, but I too was trying to guess what it was about till I read the story. So, is it the story behind it that makes it a winner, or the photo?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
88SAL
By 88SAL (2 months ago)

Hence world PRESS photo.

5 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (2 months ago)

I like it. Neither in-your-face nor overwrought, a simple photo that effectively and evocatively beings home how important this "ether" is to people all over the world.

1 upvote
Zeisschen
By Zeisschen (2 months ago)

Alternative photo title:

"#selfie @ #moonlight"

6 upvotes
Zigmont
By Zigmont (2 months ago)

"it opens up discussions about technology, globalization, migration, poverty, desperation, alienation, humanity."

Huh? If they didn't tell me it was of people in Djibouti, I'd have never guessed. Looks like people holding up cigarette lighters for a concert at the beach in L.A. or something. Or maybe getting ready to go midnight smelt fishing. If this is the best press photo of 2013, no wonder why newspapers are failing.

7 upvotes
aut0maticdan
By aut0maticdan (2 months ago)

but they did tell you. Its a press photo. What that Judge said totally makes sense to me.

Do you generally reap full context from every photo you look at?

15 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (2 months ago)

So basically you just like photos that are obvious and literal.

0 upvotes
carlos roncatti
By carlos roncatti (2 months ago)

beautiful

1 upvote
Horshack
By Horshack (2 months ago)

Can you hear me now?

3 upvotes
MarioSS
By MarioSS (2 months ago)

Nice composition, good ambiance, repetitive elements, simplistic duotone effect, I like this one.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
Shuturpiehole
By Shuturpiehole (2 months ago)

It sounds like most of you live at home with your moms and have a hotplate in your bedroom..stop whining and get out there and shoot!!!

11 upvotes
hajime93
By hajime93 (2 months ago)

couldn't have said it better myself!

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (2 months ago)

Really great photograph

2 upvotes
happy guardian
By happy guardian (2 months ago)

I am surprised it was not another ensnared photo from Gaza that won first place prize.

0 upvotes
joe6pack
By joe6pack (2 months ago)

Finally. A winning photo that does not involve killing people!

30 upvotes
xpanded
By xpanded (2 months ago)

E.T. phone home...

5 upvotes
StevenMajor
By StevenMajor (2 months ago)

BAD CHOICE
Without the words of explanation, the image is at best a curiosity. Images need to speak on their own, to tell a story or offer information that is clear and concise. This image was likely chosen to bring attention to the plight of the people in the region. It's all political BS, not just the problems of the Somalians, but the winning image as well.

8 upvotes
dialstatic
By dialstatic (2 months ago)

Do you mean that images in general need to do that, or World Press photos in particular? Because while the former is debatable, the latter is simply not true: it's not a criterion.

4 upvotes
NikonGeff
By NikonGeff (2 months ago)

What a pathetic statement.
Glass is always half empty for you Steven.
Hope you don't have a written explanation for each or your images...or do you, hhmm!!

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
12 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (2 months ago)

damn,, who twisted this guy's tit?

8 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (2 months ago)

I don't agree with that assessment at all the image is very strong in mood, feel, composition an it sure sparks to know more about why tey are holdig and why

4 upvotes
Michel F
By Michel F (2 months ago)

I don't like cellulars and the way people use them in general but I really like the way the silhouettes are composed against that soft blue background.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
aut0maticdan
By aut0maticdan (2 months ago)

Juck - I did. I twisted this guy's tit. My apologies to the photographer.

0 upvotes
nickthetasmaniac
By nickthetasmaniac (2 months ago)

As a PRESS photo, it is exceptional. In and of itself I find it to be a captivating image, taken in the context of the story it relates to, it is simply fascinating.

2 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (2 months ago)

I thought it was cellphone addicts worshiping at dawn. Personally, I'd rather the Djiboutis not talk to the Somalis. The Djibutis are ostensibly friendly to the West, Somalia is definitely NOT.

0 upvotes
HB 101
By HB 101 (2 months ago)

Amazing photo.

3 upvotes
cruisegoose
By cruisegoose (2 months ago)

Truly wonderful shot. It's captivating and gives the viewer much to think about. Great job John...thank you!

2 upvotes
vadims
By vadims (2 months ago)

Truly amazing photo well deserving the award.

Also, I'm glad that, even though it's about "Contemporary Issues", it's not another pile of mutilated corpses...

2 upvotes
AussieFotoman
By AussieFotoman (2 months ago)

Looks like they are all trying to take photos of the moon using their phones!

4 upvotes
Deutsch
By Deutsch (2 months ago)

Agree. If you didn't know the story, you could say this was a group of amateur astronomists trying to capture the full moon. So the story behind the photo has a lot to do with it. I suppose you have to submit the story with the photo, but that could give the judges a slight bias rather than the photo standing alone. Now I understand why this topic can be debatable. Nothing wrong with the photo, but I too was trying to guess what it was about till I read the story.

2 upvotes
locke_fc
By locke_fc (2 months ago)

Fantastic photo. Stanmeyer is such a great photojournalist.

3 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (2 months ago)

Fiddlesticks, I didn't place, again, this year :o But, wow, what a photo of the year :)

0 upvotes
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (2 months ago)

What photo did you submit, Jack?

0 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (2 months ago)

Trust me, Sam, they weren't near the quality of images submitted and far, far less than the winning images .. I post one of them later, from me laptop :) Plus, Daily Life, in Vancouver/BC is far less dramatic than the rest of the world ;)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (2 months ago)

PM sent and I just realised that I can't post pics here, as well :o Maybe PM an email address?

Cheers and have a great weekend :)

0 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (2 months ago)

Fantastic capture.

2 upvotes
D200_4me
By D200_4me (2 months ago)

Attention Pixel Peepers: Note that the photo is very high ISO and has plenty of noise in the shadows. Let that be a lesson to you as you endlessly debate who's got the best pixels and therefore can make the best photos. Go out and shoot and enjoy yourself. Don't worry about the noise. Just worry about making a photo that means something to you or someone else. That should be what matters. :-)

44 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (2 months ago)

Spot on, D200_4me :)

2 upvotes
Haim Hadar
By Haim Hadar (2 months ago)

This photo was taken with a FF camera sporting a fast prime. I doubt that it could be made this good with inferior equipment (Smartphone anybody?). So yes - concept, composition, creativity matter the most, but it never hurts to have a technical advantage.

6 upvotes
historianx
By historianx (2 months ago)

"inferior" lol

4 upvotes
Ranford Stealth
By Ranford Stealth (2 months ago)

@D200_4me...OMG! So you're saying photography is more a heart/soul/mind thing than gear freakery? And you're saying this on a DPR forum? Hell, one could surmise than Stanmeyer could produce a to-die-for image armed with nothing more than a *gasp* aps-c, m43 or -dare I say it - compact. You bloody heretic! I like you, even though you've put yourself in mortal danger with your outrageous views ;-)

3 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (2 months ago)

You could take this photo with a cellphone or pretty much any camera made in the last 10 years as long as you had a solid tripod and used a remote release.

0 upvotes
Petak
By Petak (2 months ago)

... and have the people in the picture freeze for like a minute or so :-)

2 upvotes
Total comments: 83
12