The World Press Photo Winners

The annual World Press Photo Contest recognises and celebrates the best photojournalism and documentary photography produced over the last year. Today, the four global winners, selected from the regional winners were announced at the Flagship World Press Photo Exhibition 2024 at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Photo of the Year has been given to Mohammed Salem, Palestine, Reuters for A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece. The harrowing image depicts a woman cradling the body of her niece who was killed, along with her mother and sister, when an Israeli missile struck their home in Khan Younis, Gaza. It’s a photograph that feels far too familiar as it speaks to a tidal wave of grief and injustice that dominates the contemporary moment. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Palestinian women and children accounted for more than two thirds of the death toll of 30,000. These are images that are not easy; they reflect the status of today. They point to photography’s ability to bear witness to the complexities and inequities of our world, prompting viewers to respond with compassion. Here, we highlight the winners.

In the Open Format Category, Julia Kochetova, Ukraine, wins for her project War Is Personal. Her series weaves together photographic images with audio clips, music and poetry, grounding the facts of the Ukranian invasion in her subjective experience. Kochetova’s multimedia project moves from voice notes to photographs, and even screenshots of her own texts. In one message she writes, “I wish these photos never exist[ed]…I hope the war ends before my heart does.” In an accompanying photograph, we see a recruit of the 68th Jaeger Brigade, a Ukranian military unit, standing next to a verdant bush of yellow and blue wildflowers. In another, a downtrodden sunflower appears on the ground. It lies on top of soil that shows signs of artillery parking nearby. The journalist explains, “I want Ukrainian photography of this war to be remembered as a first-hand narrative. I try to tell the story of an individual in an authentic way.”

The Long-Term Project award, meanwhile, goes to Alejandro Cegarra, Venezuela, The New York Times/Bloomberg for The Two Walls, a series that dives into Mexico’s increasingly stringent immigration policies. Since 2019, the country has transformed from a nation historically open to migrants to an area that has repeatedly denied asylum seekers a home. This is due to a series of compounding factors – The Trump presidency, the imposition of COVID-19 protocols, and the increasing political and economic instability across Central and South America. In the winning photograph, a migrant walks atop a freight train known as “The Beast” in Piedras Negras, Mexico. The picture reveals to drastic resources individuals must go to in order to read the border, using a form of transportation that verges on being lethal. Here, Cegarra draws from his own first-hand experience of migrating from his native Venezuela to Mexico in 2017. The photographer documents the plight of deeply vulnerable communities with respect and sensitivity, in the hope of fostering greater understanding and empathy towards crisis.

The Story of the Year goes to Lee-Ann Olwage, South Africa, GEO for her image Valim-babena. The picture informs a series that spotlights the difficulty, grief, and sometimes humour of living with an ill parent. “Paul Rakotozandriny, ‘Dada Paul’ (91) has lived with dementia for 11 years. For nine of those years, no-one knew Dada Paul was ill. Only his daughter Fara Rafaraniriana noticed something different when her father, a retired chauffeur, couldn’t find his way home after picking her up from work one day.” Olwage’s images illustrate the principle of “valim-babena,” the duty of grown children to help their parents. In a particularly joyful image, Fara and her daughter Odliatemix, lie together on a bed they share with Dada. In another we see him adjusting his collar, as his granddaughter, beside him, fixes a button. The pictures are poignant and touching, even more so when considering Fara’s role as sole provider for her family.

World Press Photo Contest |

Image Credits:

World Press Long Term Project,The Two Walls, Alejandro Cegarra, Venezuela, The New York Times/Bloomberg

World Press Open Format, Julia Kochetova.

World Press Long Term Project,The Two Walls, Alejandro Cegarra, Venezuela, The New York Times/Bloomberg

World Press Photo Story of the Year, Africa Stories, Lee-Ann Olwage, South Africa, for GE