World Press Photo announces new “creative documentary” photo contest and other programs

“The World Press Photo Foundation is on the move. We have a fantastic heritage of more than 60 years that has reflected developments in image making. We are building on that to reward the new innovations and address the enormous challenges facing all of us in the 21st century. When I became director, I said we should be a ‘think tank’ for photography, bringing people together through new activities, debate, research and publications. World Press Photo is about leading through actions, and the exciting new contests, events and programs we will be running next year make that desire a reality.” Lars Boering, Executive Director of the World Press Photo Foundation

In a press release today, World Press Photo has announced a host of new programs and initiatives. Most interesting is a new “creative documentary” photo contest that allows for more interpretive and experimental forms of documentary photography, including those using alternative techniques for “constructing, processing, and presenting images.” My guess is that this is a way for the organization to address controversies involving projects with posed subjects and other issues in past years, most recently ending in the revocation of Giovanni Troilo’s prize for work in Charleroi, Belgium. Details are scant, but it’s a long time coming, and I’m excited to see what this contest brings forward.

Time Lightbox has a little more information, “The new contest will welcome entries from professional visual storytellers who use creative techniques — both technical (double exposures, stitched images) and narrative (posed images) — to communicate about actual people, events or issues.” The contest won’t be launched until October 2017.

Other bits in the press release include mention of a new global talent program called 6×6 aimed at increasing diversity in visual journalism, a World Press Photo Live series of global debates starting in May 2017, and “Witness” a Medium-based publication run by the organization. The annual multimedia contest has also been renamed as the Digital Storytelling Contest.

Weird contest: Flip Photobook Award

Flip Photobook Award
Flip Photobook Award

I’ve just added a few deadlines to our photo contest and call for entry calendar, but I wanted to draw your attention to one in particular, The Flip Photobook Award. I couldn’t help but laugh when I got an email about this new award from Sergey Novikov (previously on dvafoto). It seeks to recognize photobook presentation videos. Weird! But kind of funny and cool, too. The photobook flipthrough is an emerging genre of online photobook presentation, so why not recognize the good ones?

Entry is free, and videos from the winner and a number of finalists will be shown during screenings at the Moscow Photobook Festival in Spring 2017. That festival is new, and doesn’t have a website yet, but it will be held at the The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography. They’ll be announcing the festival soon on their website.

Sergey also forwarded along one of the creative entries he’s already received for the competition (embedded below) for Roc Herms’ Yo Yo Yo:

Only 15% of news photographers are women: World Press Photo/Reuters Institute survey of photojournalists

Only 15% of news photographers are women. source: World Press Photo and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
Only 15% of news photographers are women. source: World Press Photo and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Last year, World Press Photo and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published the results of an online survey of 1556 photographers who entered the 2015 World Press Photo annual competition, and the results are fascinating. The report, entitled The State of News Photography: The Lives andLivelihoods of Photojournalists in the Digital Age (← pdf), looks at the demographics of photographers, how for whom they work, how much they are paid, how the ethics of journalism and manipulation figure into their work, and other topics. The whole report is worth a look.

Particularly interesting in the report are the breakdowns of photojournalists by gender. Of the respondents, only 15% were women. Self-employment is much higher among women; 79.2% of women who responded to the survey are self-employed, while only 55.9% of men are. There is a higher percentage of female photographers than men in the lowest income bracket, earning between $0 and $29,999 from photography, and likewise proportionally fewer women than men in the highest income bracket reported in the study.

Of course, this is not a new problem, nor, frankly, is it surprising. I wrote about the issue in 2013, when a tumblr post by Daniel Shea, called On Sexism in Editorial Photography, went viral. Shea’s post has disappeared, but it’s preserved on the dvafoto tumblr, and it’s worth revisiting. Likewise, some of the links in my post about Shea’s piece have been lost to history, but many still exist and still deserve consideration. Looking at the WPP/Reuters Institute survey, it seems like things haven’t changed much since 2013.

Despite the disappointing results of this survey, it’s worth celebrating the tremendous work done by women photographers around the world. ViewFind recently published a great collection of what they call The Mighty 15%. The New York Times’ Women in the World earlier this month asked, “What’s at stake when so few of [stories from around the world] are told by women.” The Photo Brigade held a panel discussion in February about women in photojournalism. Last year, BuzzFeed posted about 12 Kick-Ass Women Photojournalists To Follow On Instagram. Ruth Fremson wrote an honest and thought-provoking piece on the subject in July of last year. And organizations such as Firecracker, the Inge Morath Foundation, and Women Photojournalists of Washington, provide vital support to women in photography.

There is one possibly positive note on the gender disparity in photojournalism in the WPP/Reuters Institute report. 49.6% of women who responded said that they “mostly” have control over the editing and production of their work. Only 37.9% of men said the same. The report attributes this to the self-employed/employee results in the survey, but it’s nice to see that 88.7% of women report “sometimes” or “mostly” having authority over their own work.