World Press Photo announces the global winners

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Nowadays, World Press Photo announces its global winners just for 2022. The coveted Picture of the Year prize goes to Amber Bracken. Made for the former grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, her haunting image commemorates the unjust deaths of Indiginous children at the hands of colonialism. Story of the Year goes to Matthew Abbott, who documented the Native practice of ‘cool burning’ to fight bushfires nationwide. The Long-form award goes to Lalo de Almeida’s continuing investigation into deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, and the Open Format prize to Isadora Romero’s moving video tracing her father’s ancestral roots in Colombia.

This year, the particular photo contest shifted its strategy to a “regional approach”. Two weeks ago, the company announced 24 regional winners. These were selected by an independent jury from entrants spanning six different regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia and Oceania. From each region, 4 winning photographers were chosen, one for each of the four categories: Single, Stories, Long-term projects, and Open File format. Out of these 24 winners, four global winners happen to be announced today.  

“Together the global winners pay homage to the past, while inhabiting the present and looking towards the long run, ” states Rena Effendi, global jury chair. Below, we take a closer take a look at each of this year’s winners.  

Photo of the Year: Kamloops Residential School by Amber Bracken

Canada, for The New York Times

Kamloops Residential School © Amber Bracken, for The New York Times.

A row of gowns hang on giant wooden crosses lining the roadside. The rainbow arches in the range, colouring an otherwise tiresome sky. The scene, taken by Amber Bracken regarding The New York Times, remember children who died on the Kamloops Indian Residential College in British Columbia. The school was established in 1890, as part of the Indian residential school system – a network of boarding schools just for Indigenous peoples to assimilate them into the dominant colonial culture. Run by the Christian church, the school remained functioning until 1969, when it was taken over by the federal government plus shut down 10 years later.

This school system separated family members, deprived children of their our ancestors languages, and exposed most of them to physical and sexual abuse. In the late 1990s, a child’s tooth has been found on the premises of the Kamloops Residential School, and later in the early 2000s the tourist discovered a rib. In 2021, Sarah Beaulieu – an anthropologist in the University of the Fraser Area – surveyed the area plus concluded the probable existence of about 215 unmarked graves.  

“It is a kind of image that sears itself into your memory, it motivates a kind of sensory reaction, ” said global jury chair Rena Effendi. “I could almost hear the quietness in this photograph, a calm moment of global reckoning for the history of colonisation, not only in Canada but around the world. ”

Story from the Year: Saving Forests along with Fire by Matthew Abbott

Australia, for National Geographic/Panos Pictures

Fighting open fire with more fire may seem not logical, but for Indiginous communities, it is a method they have practised for the purpose of tens of thousands of years. ‘Cool burning’ involves lighting low fire in small areas walking distance. These flames are carefully monitored, ensuring that only the underbrush is burned, and that seed products and nutrients in the soil remain intact.

Matthew Abbott’s photo story for National Geographic documents Indigenous communities and their own use of fire to battle bushfires, as well as hunt. Abbot once lived in Western Arnhem Land –  a vast wilderness area in Australia’s Northern Territory – and was accepted into a good Indigenous community . This individual sees sharing the rangers’ solution to wildfires as vital inside tackling the climate problems and the bushfires that have emaciated the countries. In the last 10 years, fire-prevention programs – mainly on Indiginous land – have cut destructive wildfires by half.  

Long-term Project: Amazonian Dystopia by Lalo de Almeida

Brazil, for Folha de São Paulo/Panos Pictures

Since 2019, deforestation within the Brazilian Amazon has happened at its fastest speed in a decade. Under the presidency associated with Jair Bolsonaro, exploitation of the Amazon’s resources – such as minerals and metals like gold and timber – proceeds, alongside infrastructural developments that have led to mass-destruction of character. This has a huge social impact on Indigenous communities, who are forced to deal with the degradation of the home, and their way of life.

Lalo de Almeida’s has been documenting the Brazilian Amazon since 2013. His project traces the social, politics and environmental crisis the country faces under the obama administration of Bolsonaro.

Open Format:   Blood is a Seed by Isadora Romero


The open format award – the category that welcomes a combination of lens-based mediums – would go to a moving image item by Ecuadorian artist Isadora Romero. Narrated by the designer and her father, Blood is a Seed (La Sangre Es Una Semilla) is really a story about forced immigration, colonisation, and the subsequent loss of ancestral knowledge.  

Within the video, Romero traces the girl family’s history, travelling to Votre in Cundinamarca, Colombia, where her grandfather and great-grandmother were once ‘seed guardians’. They cultivated several species of potatoes on their farm, great, only two of these types are still cultivated in the community. Instead, they are cloned and mass-produced in labs. The resulting body of function is multilayered and investigative, questioning what happens when the thoughts stored in our land vanish. “The town of the father… is like many towns whose memories have been torn from them, ” says Romero, in her narration.  

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography inside April 2018, and currently holds the position of On-line Editor. She studied British Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from Town, University of London. The girl work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, as well as the Architects Journal.

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