Friday, 10 February 2012

POV: My Take On The World Press Photo Of 2012

Photo © Samuel Aranda-Courtesy World Press Photo
Well, the results were in from the World Press Photo 2012 contest, and it was Samuel Aranda who won the coveted title of World Press Photo of the Year 2012 award with his photograph of a veiled woman holding a wounded relative inside a mosque used as a field hospital by demonstrators against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen.

Much has been said and written about whether this photograph deserved the award or didn't, and various opinions from respected photographers, editors and the like, literally flooded newspapers, websites and blogs...and on social network sites. Everyone has an opinion...and voiced it. NPR even compared the scene to the Pieta, writing "the image bears an uncanny resemblance to Michelangelo's iconic (and religious) Pieta. Along those lines, The New York Times describes it as having "the mood of a Renaissance painting."

Ah, this perhaps too much artsy thinking?


But here's my take. I think the photograph is certainly powerful and compelling. Is it a great photograph? Maybe, maybe not...but it certainly hits home with its depiction of pain, anguish and upheaval arising from one of the countries least known in the Middle East...Yemen. This is not the often seen pictures of young protestors with painted faces or gas masks, civil war or brutal police or military violence. Just a profoundly sad image.

Another thing struck me. Here's a photograph of a scene of a badly injured protestor, lovingly cradled by a woman totally veiled, covered in a niqab and wearing gloves. While she is virtually faceless, I  sensed her pain, her suffering and agony by her body language...which no niqab can hide. Her being covered up so fully may even compound the poignancy of the scene.

And that's the power of this photograph.

And yes, niqab-wearing women are sentient human beings...they're mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and experience suffering, anguish. love and affection as we all do.

That's my take on it. And in my view, that's why it won.

Samuel Aranda was born in 1979 in Santa Coloma de Gramanet, Barcelona, Spain. When he was 19, he began working as a photojournalist for El Pais and El Periodico de Catalunya. A few years later, he traveled to the Middle East to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the Spanish agency EFE. In 2004, he joined Agence France-Presse, covering multiple conflicts and social issues in Spain, Pakistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian Territories, Morocco and Western Sahara.

Libin & Bianca @ NYU

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