Democracy Dies in Darkness

In Sight

These six photos are competing for a top photojournalism prize

February 14, 2018 at 5:00 AM

The bodies of Rohingya refugees who were fleeing Burma are laid out after their boat capsized near Bangladesh. About 100 people were on the boat. Seventeen survived. (Patrick Brown/Panos Pictures for UNICEF/)

The world’s violence in its many forms — including the death of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence and Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State — dominated the front pages of newspapers globally last year. Now, some of the most powerful photographs that emerged from 2017 have been recognized by the World Press Photo Foundation, which sponsors an annual photojournalism contest.

For more than 60 years, World Press Photo has selected the one photograph that defined 12 months of news, often putting the accent on some of the medium’s most iconic images. This year, however, the rules have changed. We will have to wait two months to find out which of the six shortlisted images will get the title for 2017.

The six images — shot by five male photographers — include the breathtaking picture of a Venezuelan protester engulfed in fire. Photographed by Agence France-Presse’s Ronaldo Schemidt, it is part of a series documenting the street protests against President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas last May.

Jose Victor Salazar Balza, 28, is engulfed in flames during violent clashes between riot police and people protesting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Agence France-Presse/)
A passerby comforts an injured woman after Khalid Masood drove his car into a group of pedestrians at Westminster Bridge in London on March 22, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters/)

Patrick Brown was also shortlisted for the heartbreaking photograph of Rohingya refugees who drowned as they tried to reach safety in Bangladesh. “In some way, I’d prefer to be nominated for one of the many other images I’ve taken over the course of 2017,” he said, “images that tell a story that’s a little less horrible. But this photo is really important to me because people need to know that this is happening on the other side of the world — that people are dying and that mothers and fathers are crying over the deaths of their families.”

Toby Melville, a British photographer, received a nod for a photograph of a passerby comforting an injured woman in the London attacks back in March 2017. He joins New York Times freelance photographer Adam Ferguson, who shot portraits of Boko Haram survivors in Nigeria.

Aisha, 14, stands for a portrait in Maiduguri, Nigeria. After being kidnapped by Boko Haram, Aisha was assigned a suicide bombing mission but escaped and found help. (Adam Ferguson/New York Times/)

The judges saluted Ferguson’s take on the story. “We were all looking for new, challenging approaches within journalism and photojournalism,” said the jury’s chair, Magdalena Herrera. “We really liked Adam Ferguson’s story. It’s an approach that’s different and strong.”

Ivor Prickett, an Irish freelance photographer for the New York Times, bagged two of the six spots for the top title. Both of his shortlisted photographs were shot in Iraq and focused on civilians as government forces pushed against the Islamic State in and around Mosul. “When I look back at the work from the past year, I hope that it stands as a record of the terrible cost the war to defeat ISIS had on the people caught up in it,” he tells In Sight, using a common acronym for the Islamic State. “As much as war reporting is about the battle itself, for me the most important stories are made on the periphery or in the aftermath of the clashes. That is where I tried to operate, and I just hope that my reporting added another layer to all the exceptional work of my colleagues.”

The contest’s results will be announced in April.

Civilians who had remained in west Mosul after the battle to take the city line up for aid on March 15, 2017. (Ivor Prickett/New York Times/)
An unidentified boy who was carried out of Mosul’s Old City by a man suspected of being an Islamic State militant is cared for by Iraqi soldiers on July 12, 2017. (Ivor Prickett/New York Times/)

Read more on In Sight:

Six photographers take us behind the scenes of Washington’s shutdown showdown

This Instagram account is putting the spotlight on animal extinction

The heartbreaking story of an old man and his cat

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

Olivier Laurent is a foreign photo editor, commissioning photographers in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He joined The Washington Post in 2017 from Time where he led and edited the magazine's photography vertical, LightBox.

Post Recommends

We're glad you're enjoying The Washington Post.

Get access to this story, and every story, on the web and in our apps with our Basic Digital subscription.

Welcome to The Washington Post

Thank you for subscribing
Keep reading for $10 $1
Show me more offers