World Press Photo Competition renewed

The World Press Photo Exhibition shows what is happening in the world. Over the years, it has become apparent that the competition winners were not as diverse as the stories covered. That is why the competition rules have changed this year to better represent the stories that need to be told.

By: Pieng-Or Patcharasoravut

The World Press Photo Contest

The World Press Photo Contest is a platform that tells stories of people from all over the world through photography. The winners of the World Press Photo Contest are judged largely based on the relevance of the story the work addresses, invaluable insights, and a diversity of interpretations. The winning themes are largely, for instance, the consequences of climate and human right crises. At the core of the competition, the photographers’ skills and excellence is prioritised in the judging process as well as to which degree the visual story represents the times. 

A new regional model

For the 2022 contest, the foundation took action to ensure that different voices are represented and offer a more balanced representation of stories from around the world. Therefore, World Press Photo has launched a new regional model for the competition: the winners are categorised based on the region where their stories originate. The winners are divided into six regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia and Oceania. Of all the winners in all regions, four global winners are picked in categories: Kamloops Residential School (Single), Saving Forests with Fire (Story), Amazonian Dystopia (Long-term Project), and Blood Is a Seed (Open Format). 

More diversity

The World Press Photo Competition aims to cover visual stories from over the entire world, which was initially attempted by a thematic approach, which included categories like sports, nature, current issues and portraits. However, the early models, not representative of the pressing issues, did not seize the goal in such a way that the newly launched model does. Joumana El Zein Khoury, the new executive director of World Press Photo Foundation, stepped in and changed the winning model. The World Press Photo Contest covers: “Connecting the world to the stories that matter”. In line with the mission of World Press Photo, the new winning model for the contest aims for the winning work to be more inclusive, personal, intimate, and genuinely representative of the people and their stories. In this year's entries there are 64,823 entries from 4,066 photographers from 130 countries. The jury happily saw an increase in the numbers of female photographers and local photographers, welcoming 2% more female photographers and 6% more entrants from Southeast Asia and Oceania. Additionally, WPPh were pleased with the 20% increase in entrants from Africa. Overall, the jury saw a success in the new model encouraging an increase in diversity.

Representation remains tricky

However, the new model is still far from perfect. Now, the focus is mostly on people or people in nature – with stories on wildlife and nature being underrepresented and sports being excluded from the competition altogether. On the latest change, Rena Effendi, 2022 Contest global jury chair, mentions the purpose of the change along with the challenges that entail. Such challenges include, to name a few, balance between representation across different regions of the world, gender inclusion, and the importance of issues that the world has been grappling with in recent years. The change was implemented because the most compelling stories are told from a personal angle, by those who were present on the ground and deeply connected to the subject. To this end, N’Goné Fall, chair of the regional jury of Africa, comments that we “need people from the region who live in a very specific context to highlight what are the stories that matter to us”. As a result, the majority of the winners this year are based in the same countries as where the photographs were taken.

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2022 will be on display at the NonFiction Photo Festival 2022 in Groningen.

+31 6 306 530 13


Stichting NonFiction Photo
Kerklaan 30, 9751 NN, Haren
ANBI | Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling


NonFiction Photo Festival Groningen
November – December 2022
Synagoge – Folkingestraat 60


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