AMSTERDAM – Spencer Platt of Getty Images has won the premier World Press Photo of the Year Award for 2006 in the 50th annual World Press Photo Contest for a picture that shows a group of young Lebanese driving through a South Beirut neighborhood that had been devastated by Israeli bombings. The photograph was taken on August 15, 2006, the first day of a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, when thousands of Lebanese started to return to their homes. And Akintunde Akinleye from Reuters won First Place in Spot News Singles for a picture of a Nigerian man rinsing his face after a gas pipeline explosion last year.
“It's a picture you can keep looking at,” World Press Photo jury chair Michele McNally said about Platt's winning photograph. “It has the complexity and contradiction of real life, amidst chaos. This photograph makes you look beyond the obvious.” McNally is the assistant managing editor for photography for The New York Times.
World Press Photo says that this year 4,460 professional photographers from 124 countries entered 78,083 images in their annual contest. The judging took place in Amsterdam from January 27 to February 8. The jury gave prizes in 10 theme categories to 58 photographers of 23 nationalities from: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Palestinian Territories, People's Republic of China, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Platt will receive his award and a cash prize of 10,000 Euros at a ceremony in Amsterdam on April 22, 2007. In addition, Canon will donate a Canon professional SLR camera to the winner. The awards program is preceded by a three-day program of lectures, discussions, and screenings of photography. Three exhibitions will be shown at the ceremony: the annual World Press award-winning pictures; a special selection of Platt’s work; and a theme exhibition about climate change in Africa, documented by African photojournalists.
Other top winners included First Place in Spot News for Akintunde Akinleye from Nigeria, shooting for Reuters, and First Place in Spot News Stories for Davide Monteleone of Italy.
In General News, Paolo Pellegrin of Italy shooting for Magnum Photos for Newsweek/The New York Times Magazine won First Place in singles, and Zsolt Szigetváry of Hungary won First Place in General News Stories.
Oded Balilty of Israel shooting for the Associated Press won First Place in singles in People in the News, and Q. Sakamaki of Japan and Redux Pictures won First Place in People In The News Stories.
In Sports Action Singles, Max Rossi of Italy and Reuters won First Place, and Peter Schols of the Netherlands shooting for Dagblad De Limburger/GPD/Reuters won First Place in Sports Action Stories.
Franck Seguin of France shooting for Deadline Photo Press won First Place in Sports Features Singles, and João Kehl of Brazil shooting for Cia de Foto won First Place in Sports Features Stories.
In Contemporary Issues, Walter Astrada of Argentina shooting for World Picture Network won First Place in singles, and José Cendón of Spain shooting for Agence France-Presse won First Place for Contemporary Issues Stories.
In Daily Life, Platt also won First Place and David Guttenfelder of the Associated Press won First Place in Daily Life Stories.
Nina Berman from the United States shooting for Redux Pictures/People won First Place in Portraits singles and in Portraits Stories, Nicolas Righetti of Switzerland won First Place.
In Arts & Entertainent, First Place singles was won by Espen Rasmussen of Norway shooting for Verdens Gang, and First Place for Arts & Entertainment Stories was won by Denis Darzacq of France shooting for Agence Vu.
In the Nature category, First Place for singles was awarded to Michael Nichols from the United States shooting for National Geographic, and in Nature Stories the First Place award went to Paul Nicklen shooting for National Geographic.
McNally chaired a global panel of judges this year that included photographer Peter Bialobrzeski from Germany; photographer Philip Blenkinsop from Australia; picture editor Ruth Eichhorn from Germany; photo director Adrian Evans from the UK; photographer Maya Goded from Mexico; photographer Diego Goldberg from Argentina; picture editor Wen Huang from the People’s Republic of China; photographer Alexander Joe from Zimbabwe; photographer Jerry Lampen from the Netherlands; photo director Jean-Francois Leroy from France; photo editor Maria Mann from America; and photo director Stephen Mayes from the UK.
World Press Photo is sponsored by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Canon, and TNT.