World Press withdraws more images

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After a controversial competition in which 20% of the final round images were withdrawn for being manipulated, World Press Photo has revoked Giovanni Troilo’s first prize win. Troilo was awarded the top award in the Contemporary Issues story, but his work has now been excluded from the competition on the grounds that it was set up.

The Amsterdam-based organisation announced its decision on its website at 10.18pm on 3 March, stating: “After receiving new information regarding Giovanni Troilo’s first-prize Contemporary Issues story, World Press Photo reopened its investigation yesterday. The conclusion is that the story was not in compliance with the entry rules and therefore the award must be revoked.


“Troilo submitted his story, titled La Ville Noir – The Dark Heart of Europe, to the 2015 Photo Contest as a story about the Belgian city of Charleroi. However, World Press Photo learned that the photo of a painter creating a work with live models had instead been shot in Molenbeek, Brussels. Troilo confirmed over telephone and email that the image had not been taken in Charleroi, contrary to what he submitted to the contest. This falsified information is a violation of the 2015 Photo Contest entry rules.

“In accordance with the judging procedures, which state that a single image or story/portfolio that has been awarded a prize will be disqualified if proven to be not in compliance with the entry rules, World Press Photo has made the decision to disqualify the story.”

The first place in this category now goes to the previous second place winner – Guilio di Sturco with the series Chollywood. The second place has now been awarded to the third place winner – Tomas van Houtryve with the series Blue Sky Days. There will be no third place winner.

Lars Boering, who recently took over as managing director of World Press Photo, took to his personal Facebook page to urge photographers to support Troilo. “Riding my bike home after a long, hectic and difficult day at the World Press Photo office I thought a lot about Giovanni Troilo,” he stated. “He also had a difficult day and must have been disappointed when he was disqualified for breaking the entry rules.

“That doesn’t make him a bad person nor a bad photographer for his work was recognized by some interesting and remarkable people that thought it was interesting, fascinating and maybe strange. It went all the way. I hope his work will find its way in other places.

“When a photographer is down and out and feels bad I wish all his collegeas to help him back up and send him some nice words. I think he needs it and it will make him feel better. It should be like that. Be nice.”

“We have to look hard at the ways photography is changing,” Boering told BJP this morning. “It seems some people are confused about what journalism is and where documentary photography starts.

“Everybody is talking about art photography [in which images can be manipulated and staged with no issue] but while documentary photography can be art, it is not by definition [the same thing],” he continued. “To go from documentary photography to art is a big step, and there needs to be a step in between which is about personal storytelling. That is a whole new area, and a very interesting and exciting one, but we have to understand its relationship to photojournalism in a more traditional sense.”

Boering added that this year’s competition had been “pretty hectic”, but said that it was to be expected because photojournalism and documentary photography are changing so rapidly. “It is a sign of the times,” he said. “This is why it is very important to discuss these changes, and listen to each others’ opinions.”

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy