Nothing is more compelling than an image. It is task of the photojournalist to translate a news event into something more emotionally engaging. Each year the World Press Photo foundation recognizes these professionals by selecting the top images from a variety of categories recognizing the power of an image to connect the public to traumatic world events, interesting people and moments of humanity. The 2011 winners are available on-line and can be seen at traveling exhibits throughout the world. (I should warn you that some images will be considered graphic as they contain dead bodies or body parts. The link above to the collection will display small images which can be enlarged by clicking.)
Going beyond the compelling subject matter, the photos are so well composed that you have to appreciate them as art. For example, the image above by Corentin Fohlen of anti-government riots in Bangkok has an interesting blue-gray palette punctuated by orange from the fire and the man’s shirt. The taut sling-shot and extended arm dominates the foreground and introduce tension and violence which is balanced by the resting rioters to the left.
My favorite images are the Metropolis series by Martin Roemers which won 1st prize – Daily Life Stories. By using a long exposure time, he has captured the blurred silhouettes of cars, trains and people in several major urban centers. The implied movement gives the viewer a sense of action expressing the commotion and vitality of these cities. What I love the most about these 10 images is the balance between motion and stillness. While some people anonymously blend together, there are always a few individuals perfectly in focus.
I encourage you to look through the gallery and find your own favorites!