An image from a series that led World Press Photo to withdraw Giovanni Troilo’s prize earlier this year. The entry was captioned: ‘Philippe passes most of his time in his beautiful house in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in Charleroi’ [© Giovanni Troilo, Italy, Winner, People, Professional Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards]


Italian photographer Giovanni Troilo was stripped of his World Press Photo prize earlier this year after he was accused of misleading judges by stating the incorrect location in the caption of a prize-winning photo.

World Press Photo withdrew his first prize in the Contemporary Issues stories category, which featured a controversial series of images entitled ‘The Dark Heart of Europe’.

Troilo admitted that one of the shots from his story, showing a painter creating a work with live models, was actually captured in Molenbeek, Brussels, and not in Charleroi – over 60km away – as he had first claimed.

UntitledThe Sony entry acknowledges that this image was captured in Molenbeek, and not Charleroi 

[© Giovanni Troilo, Italy, Winner, People, Professional Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards]

It was also one of the pictures Troilo submitted to the People section at the Sony World Photography Awards, a category he went on to win tonight.

After the series won the World Press Photo prize, the mayor of Charleroi took exception to his town’s portrayal as ‘la ville noire’, and an apparent hotbed of insalubrious activity such as drug abuse and ‘micro-criminality’.

The ensuing controversy led World Press Photo organisers to investigate Troilo’s work after he confirmed that the photo had not been taken in Charleroi after all, leading judges to withdraw his prize.

It seems Sony competition judges were well aware of the storm created by the Charleroi images before naming Troilo as an award winner.

Speaking earlier today, Zelda Cheatle, curator of the Sony World Photography Awards, acknowledged that the series had prompted much discussion in the press.

Cheatle added; ‘I think they are very powerful images but they have been staged, and so there has been quite a lot of controversy…’

Banning Troilo’s images, World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering said his contest must be based on trust and the entrants’ professional ethics.

He added: ‘We now have a clear case of misleading information and this changes the way the story is perceived. A rule has now been broken and a line has been crossed.’

The controversy also led Visa Pour L’Image, a highly regarded French photography festival, to refuse to show any of this year’s World Press Photo winners, claiming the contest called into question the values of photojournalism.