On Monday, the World Press Photo Foundation announced the winners of the annual photo contest — and the gallery contains both some of the best images of the year and some of the worst moments. The jury selected Burhan Ozbilici’s photograph from just moments after a 22-year-old assassinated the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, as the Photo of the Year.
The World Press Photo contest highlights images that aren’t just artistically significant but culturally represent issues and events from the past year and Ozbilici’s image captured a difficult moment in an incredible way, according to the panel of judges. Ozbilici shot the photo while covering the art exhibition in Turkey that took an unexpected turn on December 19, 2016.
The image shows Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş wielding a gun and yelling just moments after the assassination. Altintas, an off-duty police officer, wounded three others before being killed in the resulting shootout.
“It was a very, very difficult decision, but in the end we felt that the picture of the year was an explosive image that really spoke to the hatred of our times,” said jury member Mary F. Calvert. “Every time it came on the screen you almost had to move back because it’s such an explosive image and we really felt that it epitomizes the definition of what the World Press Photo of the Year is and means.”
Ozbilici, a staff photographer for the Associated Press in Istanbul, also received first place in the Spot News Series category for the set of images he took from the assassination.
“Right now I see the world marching towards the edge of an abyss. This is a man who has clearly reached a breaking point and his statement is to assassinate someone who he really blames, a country that he blames, for what is going on elsewhere in the region. I feel that what is happening in Europe, what is happening in America, what is happening in the Far East, Middle East, Syria, and this image to me talks of it. It is the face of hatred,” said jury member João Silva.
Along with selecting the photo of the year, the contest also named several category winners from people to nature, picking 45 category winners. Each category was divided into both single images and an image series.
Over 5,000 photographers from 125 countries entered the 2017 contest. The panel of judges viewed 80,408 images for the contest. To view all 45 winners, visit the World Press Photo gallery.
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