The World Press Photo Contest 2023 has revealed the regional winners who have highlighted the irreplaceable role of photojournalism. The winners, who hail from every inhabited continent and were chosen from a pool of over 60,000 entries submitted by 3,752 entrants from 127 countries, have brought to the forefront critical issues that confront our world today. From documenting the devastating effects of the war in Ukraine and protests in Iran, to showcasing the realities of life in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and the various faces of the climate crisis across the globe, these winners have given voice to both prominent and overlooked stories through their powerful and thought-provoking photography.
The 24 winners and six honorable mentions have captured compelling stories that touch on topics such as conflict, culture, identity, migration, memories of a lost past, and glimpses into the future. The entries were evaluated first by six regional juries, and the global jury – consisting of the regional jury chairs and global jury chair Brent Lewis, New York Times photo editor and co-founder of Diversify Photo – selected all the winners. The World Press Photo organization is proud to showcase the work of these talented photojournalists and documentary photographers who continue to shed light on the most pressing issues of our time.
Insights on a selection of this year’s winning projects
This web-based project explores the effects of rising seas on the local community in Al Max, a fishing village situated along the Mahmoudiyah canal in Alexandria, Egypt. For generations, its residents have lived and worked on the canal that leads to the Mediterranean Sea. In 2020, the Egyptian government began evicting parts of Al Max and relocating people to housing several kilometers away from the canals, not only demolishing homes, but also endangering the collective memories and local culture embedded in the neighborhood. The stories featured here speak to the precarity of people everywhere striving for recognition amid global economic and environmental upheaval.
This photo-based video project narrates one chaotic night in the life of an Iranian nurse as she saves the life of a young protester named Reza. The footage offers a rare glimpse into the dangers faced by protestors on the streets of Iran today, situated in the context of an inciting incident: on 16 September 2022, Mahsa “Jina” Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died after she was arrested by the Islamic Republic’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict rules restricting the dress and conduct of women. The ensuing protests quickly intensified, spreading across the country. The Islamic Republic responded by disrupting internet access and violently repressing uprisings. Because hospitals are controlled by the regime, anyone injured in the protests risks arrest and further abuse upon seeking medical attention.
Russian forces began advancing towards Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, just after their full-scale invasion on 24 February. Throughout March and April, the city was partially encircled and remained under heavy shelling. In May, Ukraine forced a Russian withdrawal from the immediate surroundings of Kharkiv. The jury felt this image encapsulated the grief and horror that Ukrainian civilians endure on a daily basis since Russia’s invasion.
north and central america
A substantial decrease in flow of the Colorado River, caused by lack of rain and increasing demand for water upstream, now requires these workers to provide water for the bees in troughs. Heat and drought weakens bees, making them more susceptible to pathogens and parasites, and impacts the plants from which they feed. Between 2019 and 2020, colonies of bees – vital for pollinating crops – declined by 43.7 percent across the US. The jury felt this understated portrait invites reflection on an environmental issue that resonates at a global level.
Vital to the livelihoods of many people in the Peruvian Andes, alpacas face new challenges due to the climate crisis. With natural pastures shrinking and glaciers retreating, these animals increasingly struggle to graze and hydrate. Alpaquero (alpaca-farmer) communities in turn may be forced to move to higher altitudes or to abandon their lifestyles. To combat these difficulties, scientists hope to address the problem by creating breeds more resistant to extremes in temperature. The jury appreciated the way the story illuminates how culture and identity are deeply intertwined with the environment.
southeast asia and oceania
The Golden Gays are a community of older LGBTQI+ people from the Philippines who have lived together for decades and support each other. In a country where they face discrimination, prejudice, and challenges amplified by their age and socioeconomic class, the group came together and made a home, sharing care responsibilities and staging shows and pageants to make ends meet. When their founder died in 2012, the community were evicted and some experienced homelessness until 2018, when they began renting a house in Manila. The jury commended this story for portraying the warmth, joy, and dignity of the community.