“Ideally a [World Press Photo] Picture of the Year would be surprising, unique, relevant, memorable,” says Whitney C. Johnson, vice president, Visuals and Immersive Experiences, at National Geographic, and jury chair for World Press Photo’s 2019 contest.
This year John Moore has won that top spot, with an image showing Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez crying as she and her mother, Sandra Sanchez, were taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas, USA, on 12 June 2018.
The image was published worldwide and, though US Customs and Border Protection later confirmed that Yanela and her mother had not been among the thousands separated by the border officials, public outcry still resulted in US President Donald Trump reversing this policy on 20 June.
“In the politically-charged environment in which we live, almost every photograph that unites emotion from those who see it will be controversial,” Moore told BJP in this interview. “It’s just a fact of modern-day photojournalism, and I accept and embrace that. The conversations that come from this are important, and they help educate us about the world.”
“The details in the picture are interesting,” says Johnson. “From the gloves that the border patrol officer is wearing to the fact that the shoelaces have been removed.”
“It immediately tells you so much about the story,” says Alice Martins, photojournalist and World Press jury member. “And at the same time, it really makes you feel so connected to it (…). This picture shows a different kind of violence that is psychological.”
John Moore is a senior staff photographer and special correspondent for Getty Images, who has worked in 65 countries on six continents. Since returning to the US in 2008, he has focused on immigration and border issues.
This year World Press Photo also added a Story of the Year to its awards, and that prize has also been won by a project on immigration, which was shot by Sweden-based, Dutch photographer Pieter Ten Hoppen. His series shows people travelling with the largest migrant caravan in recent history, which left San Pedro Sula, Honduras on 12 October and gathered as many as 7000 people on its way to the USA, according to UN agencies – including at least 2300 children. Shot in soft colours, it focuses in on individuals in the caravan, and moments of beauty in their lives.
“For me personally, it would have been easier to create a story built on fear that focused on negative experiences, but I wanted to look for empathy in the work, and try to challenge myself,” Hoopen told BJP in this interview. “The idea was to create a body of work using a topic that everyone can relate to, which is love.”
“The World Press Photo Story of the Year had to hold together visually, it had to be very cohesive, the editing of the story itself had to be quite strong, and the storytelling had to be there, there had to be different elements of the scenario,” said Johnson.
“There is such a high sense of dignity,” says Yumi Goto, independent photography curator and World Press Photo jury member. “It really tells me about hope, what hope really means.”
“They slowed themselves down, and carefully picked at the story, picked at the strands that matter,” added Nana Ko Acquah, photographer at Getty Images and another jury member. “And told the story beautifully.”
Born in The Netherlands in 1974, Ten Hoppen left for Sweden in 1999 and studied photojournalism at the Nordens Fotoskola. He has worked all over the world, focusing in on the aftermath of war and humanitarian crises since 2004, and is represented by Agence Vu. He is also the founder of the Civilian Act company in Stockholm, Sweden.
BJP interviewed all the photographers shortlisted for the World Press Photo and World Press Story of the Year – click on the links to read more. The shortlist for the World Press Photo this year also included: Victims of an Alleged Gas Attack Receive Treatment in Eastern Ghouta by Mohammed Badra, Syria, European Pressphoto Agency; Almajiri Boy by Marco Gualazzini, Italy, Contrasto; Being Pregnant After FARC Child-Bearing Ban by Catalina Martin-Chico, France/Spain, Panos; Covering the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi by Chris McGrath, Australia, Getty Images; and Akashinga – The Brave Ones by Brent Stirton, South Africa, Getty Images.
The World Press Photo Story of the Year shortlist also included: The Lake Chad Crisis by Marco Gualazzini, Italy, Contrasto; and Yemen Crisis by Lorenzo Tugnoli, Italy, Contrasto, for The Washington Post.
The 2019 World Press Photo Contest featured 15 categories in total, from which the World Press Photo and the World Press Story of the Year were selected – see below for winning work from all of them. The World Press Photo Exhibition 2019 is now going on show at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, and from there it will travel around the world.