Speech by Prince Constantijn at World Press Photo 2022 in Amsterdam
So glad we can meet again to celebrate your success and the importance of visual story telling.
This gathering is special, as it offers an excuse to leave the field and meet colleagues from all over the world. Like a mini sabbatical in Amsterdam. Sadly it is no longer a given. Hardening borders, global tensions, rising autocracy, the pandemic have made traveling difficult. Some winners for example could not be here today because of visa issues or having their passport confiscated.
For the public WPP offers a chance to be exposed to many carefully researched stories. Each of the 4 global winners have invested years on these stories. For example the winning story around the Amazonian dystopia that has been documented for over 13 years. The Ukraine story documented 8 years of how we arrived to today's war, and we witness the build up towards the storming of the Capitol in Washington CD.
Following WPP’s new set up: World! Press! Photo! More inclusive, diverse and local, while at the same time the contest has been the most global to date. Winners from 19 different countries. Representing diverse local lenses through with which these stories were recorded ensuring a richer set of perspectives.
To bring us these stories many small or big hurdles had to be crossed, as well as at times directly putting your lives in danger. Pls join me in showing deep appreciation for professional photojournalists. You and your colleagues are facing increasingly hostile environments.
The freedom of the speech and freedom of the press is under increasing pressure all around the globe, with the lines blurring when it comes to what previously was recognized as 'free speech countries’.
The world owes you a great deal of gratitude as you are trying to discern fact from fiction, and make sense in the tsunami of information, perspectives, opinions and fake news.
For the first time - as far as I am aware - WPPF has 2 anonymous winners. They had to hide their identity in order to not be directly targeted while wanting to give access to the world to the events taking place in their countries.
What about the stories this year...
- There is so much that could be said about this year’s winners and how the new WPP approach has impacted the outcome. Unexpected themes, images, perspectives and formats.
- They show us much of the same is happening all over the world - climate crisis, citizens uprisings for social justice, violence against women, the horrors committed to indigenous communities everywhere.
- We see that the young generation is standing up for its rights from Argentina to streets of Khartoum
- Along side the dispair there is also hope, as people all over the world are taking things in their own hands and making changes.
This year’s overall global winner is illustrative:
- The image is aesthetic and conceptual. Unique: without people in the winning photo
- It implicitly contains many of the contemporary themes: violence against kids, and indigenous people, ‘cultural genocide’, lack of accountability of systems and institutions,
- Very high impact: depicting the shameful confrontation with a country’s history, like the Netherlands is now confronted by its colonial past, and we are learning to deal with it.
The juxtaposition of this literal unearthing of a scandalous history, with the other winning stories depicting contemporary practises adds a layer of relevance to this exhibition. What lessons are we drawing from the past? What shame will we feel tomorrow from the things we did or didn’t do today?
Today we celebrate your dedication in capturing and sharing these stories; challenging conventional wisdom; raising awareness and holding us all accountable. From the number of visitors to the exhibitions and social media reactions to the stories, we see lots of engagement.
Whatever the forces that want to stop your efforts; the hunger from those who want to be connected to these stories, is greater. May we draw hope from that and battle on.