You've heard the cliché before, but in photojournalism it's not a cliché – it's a fundamental truth of the trade. The World Press Photo exhibition recognizes, celebrates and rewards the best of each year's photojournalistic achievements. Founded in Amsterdam in 1955, it aims to support and promote the work of professional press photographers worldwide. Photos are submitted to the exhibition and then judged by a panel of jurors. Prizewinning photographs then become part of the exhibition, which travels to over 45 countries. A yearbook
showcasing all entries is then published later on in the year. This year's exhibition features both the provocative and the sublime, and the juxtaposition of these two make for both an exhilarating and unsettling walk through the exhibition. Gary Knight, chairman of the jury, found it "disappointing that so much of what was submitted was familiar. One wonders why some photojournalists spend time and energy telling us what we already know, in a style borrowed from another photographer."
He speculated that "one is left with the impression that many entries were submitted because they looked like previous winners' photos. Their sole purpose appeared to be to win prizes." While some of the photographs are "just like that one I saw in the magazine," the entire exhibition works together in a much more powerful way. The image I found most powerful
was one featuring Gen. Laurent Nkunda, leader of the CNDP (Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple)in North Kivu, Congo. Nkunda, positioned in the centre of the photograph,
looks like a Hollywood rapper chillin' to his beats – until you notice the two military personnel flanking either side of him. Other photographs explore new ideas. Many are less difficult to deal with: marathon competitors dripping in sweat as they stand at the finish line and a collection of natural photographs featuring whales and polar bears.
The Allen Lambert Galleria itself is an experience to be had. The ceiling is actually a set of four-storey white arched windows that straddle the Galleria. One of Toronto's original banks was removed brick by brick and the front was recreated within the Galleria, complete with wrought-iron fence. The building is still used as a bank today.
- The World Press Photo exhibition runs until Oct. 22 at the Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place,
181 Bay St. It is open 7 a.m. to
10 p.m. daily. Admission is free.
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