Literally The Best Photos In The World

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Contemporary Issues, 1st prize singles, Brent Stirton: Maria, a drug addict and sex worker, in between clients in a room she rents in Kryvyi Rig, Ukraine. Maria injects drugs on a daily basis and sees many men every week but claims she remains HIV negative. She says she need the money to support herself, her drug habit and her nine-year-old daughter.

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65 Responses to Literally The Best Photos In The World

  1. Dave Williams February 22, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    So sorry to see the captions take precedence over the imagery. So much social activism involved in the “selection” of “best” as defined by those with political agendas in the media… Sad.

    • Kyle February 22, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Dave WIlliams: I 100% agree. If you take away the captions on a few photos, your left with just a couple random portraits, and they only pick ones where it’s overseas politically war driven.

      • Harry February 22, 2012 at 11:12 am #

        It’s a photojournalism prize, of course a journalistic element is considered when they award the prize. As Kyle says, if you take away the captions you’re just left with random portraits and photojournalism isn’t about random portraits!

      • DanielKPhoto February 22, 2012 at 11:22 am #

        I don’t think this is bad photojournalism at all. Maybe not all photos are just as great, but I really like mot of the shots even without the captions.

        Take for example the photo of the woman put out of her appartment. For me, the photo told the story itself already. And yes ofcourse, the caption adds a lot to the photo, but I don’t think the photos are worthless without the captions.

        That’s just what I think,


    • David February 23, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      I agree with Dave’s comments. Most of these photos are not actually news but a focus on human misery and degradation. There’s so much more to life than the emphasis of the media (newspapers and nightly news) on their daily drum beat of death, murder, bad news, criminality, etc. In my opinion many of these photos are meant to make us feel bad and go into agreement with how bad life is. If we are made to agree enough with the fodder of the merchants of chaos, we soon see that’s the way life is. Nothing could be more untrue.

    • Eric February 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

      I didn’t feel the emotion or inspiration from most of the pictures. Most of them gives that fake image feels like from movies like 300. Overaly post processed to try to inject emotions rather than capturing? I did like the drum pic though.

  2. Philip Rawson February 22, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    These are hard-hitting images, Chase. With the recent news of two more journalists being killed in Syria it makes you respect the role journalists play in our society more than ever before. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Jason February 22, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    I think the line between powerful photography and a powerful moment has blurred a little too much for me. There is a reason people hire professional photographers for their weddings. To them, it is one of the most important and powerful days of their lives. That being said, crappy, out of focus, poorly composed shots will not do. If that makes sense…

    • Matthew April 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      That said, when you are in the middle of getting shot at in Afghanistan and you are still responsible for documenting those events, the content becomes a lot more important than the rule of thirds. Kinda like that photo of the girl with the fish in her mouth. There is water all over that lens, she is dead centered, and overall it’s not a “great looking PHOTOGRAPH” But that’s not what photojournalism is entirely about. It’s about documenting events. These are all good depictions of what’s happening in the now. Comparing a wedding and photojournalism isn’t realistic. You shoot a few shots at a time, because who knows when you’ll get to charge your camera again on some assignments, or when you’ll be able to download. Suddenly it’s like the days of film again. You can delete, sure, but I know I wanted to make sure there was space should some crap go down and I needed to KNOW I would have card space. I think [and there's the magic phrase that everyone loves to use ;) ] that in a world where everyone can grab a DSLR and call themselves a photographer, and photoshop is where you can “fix it later” for any ol’ person, the bar has been set…. not too high, but, has been mistakenly set for photojournalists. Everyone thinks they know about what makes a great photo and there has become such an emphasis on composition, quality, lighting, etc, that people are forgetting journalism is about content first and foremost.

      Wow, what a rant, eh. Anyways, good opinions all over, and I think the photos aren’t all that bad ;)

  4. Lea February 22, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    These are heartbreaking images and wonderfully taken but I agree with the comments about, “…they only pick ones where it’s overseas politically war driven”. We know what’s going on in the world. The hunger, the violence because that is what we are bombarded with everyday in the news. I am not trying to disregard the plights of others who are less fortunate than us (Americans). I would like to see someone win with a very touching, wonderful picture of an accomplishment or victory, no matter what country it came from. Let’s see something positive that has made an impact on the world.

  5. Sheldon February 22, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    The photographer who took the second image, Remi Ochlik, was killed in Syria on Wednesday. You can see more here….

  6. Catherine February 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Wonderful pick, and considering the tragic news about Remi Ochlik (as Sheldon said) a timely reminder of the power of photojournalism.

    I have to disagree with the person above who wanted to look at more happy American pictures. We can drown ourselves in a limitless opiate sea of escapist media at any time. If we are inescapably inundated with *anything* it is with glossy images of celebrities and models and the aspirational, pretty imagery of advertising. Not utterly brilliant photojournalism.

  7. Bluestill February 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I think that each of the photos are indeed powerful in their own right, but I would also agree with some of the other comments that each of them have a social or political movement behind them. There is nothing beautiful or admirable about war, chaos or destruction. Therefore how can we regard them as “best”? When I think of best, I think of things that makes me feel good. Things that I could spend hours looking at, or even include on my coffee table for conversation with friends. The list is too journalistic. Should the list not include things that we as people might see every day in our lives (considering where I grew up and how I grew up, I might be contradicting myself by saying this LOL). Things that people would ordinarily walk by without truly noticing the beauty of it until someone capture the moment in a photo, and we all say “aaahhhhh!!”… I’m just saying.

  8. nonsence February 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    some of this years photos are.. a matter of discussion… as if the act on the photo was somehow mroe important then th photo itself….. I thought that WPP is about world events, but also about good photos (best photos) and some of those this year are… well.. not good as photos

  9. c.d.embrey February 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I ddn’t want PJs to entertain me, I want them to inform me. Stay away from the LATimes or NYTimes if you only want to see photos of fuzzy-puppys.

  10. Andy McPhoto February 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Some of these images fascinated or inspire me, the rest quite worthy if a little familiar to the medium.

    Personally, I feel that WPP and other salutes to photojournalism forget this: The photo is often before the journal. While the context of the photo is tied to the image being shared by it’s very category in the medium, to me a world-class image should transcend the story, standing up to the objective “great photo” it’s classing specifically for praise.

    My case? I photograph people without pose at any chance I get, and that’s heavily cultivated my PJ interests. When I shoot events/travel/etc, my aim is to get a photo that (God, hopefully!) uses it’s beauty to drive home the story or inspire curiosity for more, while obviously containing enough elements for at least base social context.

    Of course, what’s awarded “great” under any measure will please some, displease others. That’s the trip of this world we live in, thank goodness for variety sake!

    So, my late night thoughts on the matter. I say that because what do I know, I haven’t raced through warzones! Any (somewhat) sane person who decides to put their safety at risk to such a degree is far beyond more than me claiming this as more than an observing opinion. As today’s’ death in Syria of photographer Remi Ochlik shows, photographers have their own lost soldiers, and deserve a good deal of the same respect. ‘Nuff said.

  11. Andy McPhoto February 22, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Footnote: Just for clarity, I don’t refer to the photo/content “beauty” as a light or strictly positive shot of perspective. Just as the saddest songs can have the most uplifting feeling, the brutal side of these events are required viewing, and contain their own beauty.

    Also, apologies to any grammar police, it’s late over here… ;)

  12. Alberto February 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    Hey Chase, point take, very powerful very sad…
    ….is this what its all about? How can be possible that in the 10 “possible” best photos in the world there is not a bit of happines, love and beauty? Didnt like them at all dude….

  13. Mohammed Ismail February 23, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    Great post, but just one correction which needs to be made. Under the second photograph, you have the caption: “General News, 1st prize stories, Rémi Ochlik: Libyan rebel fighters sing and celebrate as they lose their position in the key oil town of Ras Lanouf.” Why would they be celebrating after losing their position?

  14. Dan Bacon February 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I have a lot of respect for those photographers who risk their lives to bring us in to the world of others. What a powerful collection of images…

  15. Joni Schrantz February 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Chase, I always dig your posts. Thanks for sharing this, amazing images from the year.

  16. andy green February 25, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    most of the skill in these pictures is the skill in operating in the worst places in the world, that is the real skill set her.

  17. Moritz February 29, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    always love the world press awards though sad that so many pictures show the pain and suffering of war.
    one of my all time fav. shot from world press awards was of a goal keeper kicking the ball in the rain (see link)×632/wpp/00/JPEG_-_winners_2002/2002030.jpg


    come and check out my blog

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  29. Mark April 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    good story. tragic events, but the best photos in the world? i don’t know about that.. whatever happened to ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’?? it’s a good read these captions, but don’t you think the pictures should speak a little more than they do here? just a thought..

  30. Mark April 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    by the way.. i have tremendous respect for photo journalists..wanted to make sure i am not conveying a wrong message..their job is commendable. i am not taking anythin away from them .. my comments are purely based on the above ten pics for the photojournalism’s best for 2012.

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  34. ric woods April 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Its interesting that we choose devistated lives to be voted as the best photos in the world….I personally dont agree

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