The winners of the 2024 World Press Photo Awards have been announced, rewarding some of the finest examples of documentary, reportage and portrait photography.

The World Press Photo of the Year award goes to a heartbreaking image from Gaza, which shows a Palestinian woman embracing the dead body of her niece.

World Press Photo Awards photo of the year
Credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

It was taken by Mohammed Salem, just days after his own wife gave birth, and he describes it as a ‘powerful and sad moment that sums up the broader sense of what was happening in the Gaza Strip.’

The little girl, aged 5, also lost her mother and sister when an Israeli missile struck their home, in Khan Younis, Gaza. The jury commented on how the image was composed with care and respect, offering at once a metaphorical and literal glimpse into unimaginable loss.

The Story of the Year award was given to Lee-Ann Olwage, from South Africa, for a project about dementia. One particularly striking image shows Dada Paul and his granddaughter Odliatemix getting ready for church in Madagascar, where dementia sufferers are often stigmatised. He has lived with dementia for 11 years, and is cared for by his daughter Fara.

World Press Photo Story of the Year
Credit: Lee Ann Olwage/GEO

‘This story tackles a universal health issue through the lens of family and care,’ said the judges. ‘The selection of images are composed with warmth and tenderness reminding viewers of the love and closeness necessary in a time of war and aggression worldwide.’

World Press Photo Long Term Project Award
Credit: Alejandro Cegarra/The New York Times/Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the award for a longer-term project went to Alejandro Cegarra, Venezuela, for his project on Mexico’s increasingly draconian immigration policies. It draws on his own experience of migrating from his native Venezuela to Mexico in 2017.

Last but not least, the World Press Photo Open Format award went to Julia Kochetova, from Ukraine. With the conflict with Russia dragging on and turning into a bloody stalemate, she created a website that brings together photojournalism with the personal documentary style of a diary to show the world what it is like to live with war.

World Press Photo Open Format Award
Credit: Julia Kochetova

‘All of the winning images have such power to convey a specific moment, while also resonating beyond their own subject and time,’ said the jury chair and The Guardian picture editor, Fiona Shields. ‘This is what we were hoping to find. Our Photo of the Year truly encapsulates this sense of impact; it is incredibly moving to view and at the same time an argument for peace, which is extremely powerful when peace can sometimes feel like an unlikely fantasy.’

Remembering the bravery of photojournalists

The organisers also made some thought-provoking comments about the dedication and courage of these photographers. ‘Work, for a news photographer, can be a dangerous place. Unlike other journalists, news photographers must be where the story is happening – which might be a war zone, a humanitarian disaster, or somewhere free and open media is not welcomed…

More than three quarters of the 99 journalists and media workers who perished worldwide in 2023 were killed in the Israel-Gaza war, making it one of the deadliest years on record.’

The World Press Photo Exhibition is taking place at Borough Yards, London, from the 3rd to the 27th of May. Tickets are available here.

Further reading
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