Telling remarkable stories through images

Telling remarkable stories through images - Canon
© Gary Knight

For 60 years the World Press Photo Contest has showcased the best photojournalism from all corners of the globe. It has shed new light on major news stories and uncovered many others which may have otherwise gone untold.

The event, sponsored by Canon since 1992, highlights the inspirational role of photojournalism to a worldwide audience of millions. The exhibition of prizewinning work travels to 45 countries in the course of a year and photos are published in a much-coveted yearbook which offers a record of the year's most striking images and events.

Over two million people visit more than a hundred different venues around the globe to see each year's prize-winning images on show. If you've never been to see a World Press Photo Contest exhibition in the past, find out the next time one will be held near you. If you're a keen photographer or simply interested in understanding what makes our world tick, it's a must see.

Telling remarkable stories through images - Canon
© Gary Knight

Over half a century of striking photos

The contest's archive of winning images is a record of more than half a century of history and also showcases how styles of photojournalism have evolved through the years.

Telling remarkable stories through images - Canon
© Gary Knight

The contest and subsequent shows create an event which is enjoyed not just for bringing outstanding reportage photography to a wider audience, but also for its ability to show how photographers look at life's diversity, including nature and the arts.  Alongside images of conflict, natural disasters and serious news stories there are always photos which reveal the warmth, humour and optimism of the human spirit.

Besides the main World Press Photo of the Year prize, a 19-member jury awards three more prizes (first, second and third places) in nine categories including sport news, general news, portraits, sports action, sports features, contemporary issues, daily life and nature. Over the years, the contest has made icons of photos of sporting endeavour, artistic triumph and scientific discoveries.

In 2014, nearly 6,000 photographers from 132 countries entered the contest. Almost 100,000 photos were submitted.

What makes a winning image?

With so many photos being entered, you may wonder what qualities make an image a winner. According to Gary Knight, contest judge and Canon Ambassador, winning images show "imagination, courage, and creativity."

Knight suggests that one of the key roles of the modern World Press Photo contest is to highlight, "powerful, nuanced and articulate storytelling that can easily be differentiated from the millions of photos posted on social media every day." Read more from Gary's insightful speech from the 2014 awards ceremony here.

Telling remarkable stories through images - Canon
© John Stanmeyer

In 2014, Canon photographer, John Stanmeyer, won the overall World Press Photo of the Year for his shot of African migrants on the shores of Dijbouti City.

Other notable Canon photographers who won prizes in 2014 World Press Photo Contest include Canon Ambassador Brent Stirton who won first prize in the Staged Portraits Singles category for his image of blind albino boys in India, whilst Canon Explorer Marcus Varesvuo took second prize in the Nature Singles category for his image of a flock of guillemots in a snowstorm in Norway.

Each year, the contest is judged by leading experts in visual journalism from different areas of the profession. The independent jury is changed from year to year and a secretary who has no vote safeguards the fair and balanced judging process.

Getting involved

While the World Press Photo Contest is traditionally open only to professional photojournalists, these days you'll find many opportunities to have your own photos published by a local news source, possibly paving the way for you to enter your own work.

With the increase in online news sites, publishers are often in great need of images to accompany stories. The internet also offers more opportunities to self-publish your work. Publishing your own newsworthy photos online allows you to produce a slide show or photo essay with a narrative which you can share.

Photojournalism is an art form which requires patience, people skills and motivation. But it is also one which you can pursue close to home, simply by getting out with your camera in your neighbourhood, discovering issues which matter to people in your community, then photographing them.

By seeing the world through the eyes of a photojournalist, it's likely you'll make new friends and contacts and gain a different perspective through the images you capture. If reading this has inspired you to capture an important story, upload your reportage photos on The Gallery. And read on for more useful tips on photojournalism techniques.