The Danish Mads Nissen is the author of the photo of the year that has won the World Press Photo 2021 contest, with an image that reflects the loneliness of the elderly exacerbated during the pandemic. The photo is titled The first hug, which in this case unites Rosa Luzia Lunardi, 85, with nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza. It was taken on August 5, 2020 at the Viva Bem home for the elderly, in São Paulo, Brazil, and it is the first caress that the elderly woman received in five months due to the closure of visits to all residences to avoid contagion. Caregivers had orders to reduce physical contact with the elderly, and in Viva Bem the curtain of hugs was invented, made of plastic and with sleeves to put the arms in and thus surround the older person. Nissen already won this same award in 2015 with a scene of a homosexual couple in Russia, a country that in 2013 passed a law banning the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations. In both calls, the photos have been published in the Danish newspaper Politics. As already happened in the 2020 call, the coronavirus crisis has prevented the nominees from going to Amsterdam. The proclamation of the winners had to be organized through the internet. The winner has received a phone call from the management of World Press Photo, which is an independent foundation founded in the Dutch capital in 1955.
Photogallery with the awarded works in the World Press Photo
A photo about homosexuality in Russia wins the World Press Photo 2015
“This is a story of hope and love in the most difficult times. When I learned about the crisis that was taking place in Brazil and the poor leadership of President Bolsonaro, who has ignored the virus from the beginning, who calls it ‘a flu,’ I felt the need to do something, “said photographer Mads Nissen after knowing himself the winner. For Kevin WY Lee, photographer member of the jury, this is an iconic image of the covid-19 because “it summarizes an extraordinary moment of our lives anywhere: here I read vulnerability, loved ones, loss and separation, but also the survival. All this in a single image. If you look at it closely, you will see wings. The symbol of flight and hope ”, he declared.
Nissen is based in Copenhagen and has also signed works for magazines Time, Newsweek, National Geographic y Stern, in addition to the newspapers The Guardian Y The mirror, among others. In his opinion, photography is about creating closeness and intimacy, and he tries to capture it by focusing “on contemporary social issues, such as inequality, human rights violations and our destructive relationship with nature.” Nissen will receive 5,000 euros.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the covid-19 pandemic, those over 70 years old are among the most vulnerable groups; But in Brazil, where the winning photo was taken, the president, Jair Bolsonaro, discarded prevention measures and encouraged the population to continue working to keep the economy afloat. At the end of 2020, the country exceeded 7 million infections (out of 212 million inhabitants) and 195,000 deaths had been reported. On April 7, more than 4,000 deaths from coronavirus were registered for the first time in 24 hours; infections already totaled 13.1 million, according to the Ministry of Health.
In the same contest, the Italian Antonio Faccilongo, has won the award dedicated to the history of the year, with Habibi, a series that collects love stories during the Arab-Israeli conflict. Published by Getty Images, it portrays its effect on Palestinian families and their difficulties in raising a family and preserving their dignity. “I ambition to be a cultural bridge to bring people together,” said the photographer. In the digital interactive section, the jury has awarded a Reconstruction of seven days of protests in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death, thus titled. The authors are Holly Bailey, for The Washington Post, and Matt Daniels and Amelia Wattenberger, for The Pudding. “This work reflects what can be done with social networks. I think it tells the truth in an accessible and understandable way, ”according to Holly Bailey. As for the Video of the Year, published on the internet, it has been chosen Calling back from Wuhan, by Yang Shenlai and Tang Xiaolan. Both photographers capture the life of a family in the Chinese city, in February 2020, after the death of the parents due to the coronavirus. The narrative thread is followed through a series of phone calls, and the jury considers that the story “not only reflects the trauma, but its context to give a general idea of the crisis.”
In other categories there are Spanish professionals among the winners. The Cooperativa Barret / Lab RTVE / A Punt Media, a Valencian documentary producer specialized in social and civil rights issues, has won in the section dedicated to instructive and interactive digital stories with a video titled Born in the 21st century. Follow five women during pregnancy and delivery during the pandemic. The spectator enters with them at the University Hospital of La Plana, in Villarreal, where a group of midwives supports the women “in a birth that respects their bodies, their rights and those of their babies.” The contest highlights its educational aspect.
In the nature stories section, photographer Luis Tato, who is based in Nairobi (Kenya), has won third prize reflecting the fight against the locust plague in the Archers Post settlement, in Samburu county , in northern Kenya. In the snapshot, published by The Washington Post, farmer Henry Lenayasa tries to ward off a gigantic swarm of locusts that devastates farmland on April 24, 2020, when the pandemic had already disrupted daily life. Earlier that year, Kenya suffered one of the worst desert locust infestations – the most voracious species of this insect – in seven decades. They had migrated from the Arabian peninsula, and a series of cyclical droughts and floods facilitated their reproduction. Even before their arrival, some 20 million people were on a food alert situation in the country due to extreme variations in the climate.
In the nature photos, Jaime Culebras has won third prize with an image of Wiley’s frog eggs, hanging his bag on a leaf from the tropical forest in the Andes, near the Yanayacu biological station, in Napo ( Ecuador). The female of the nymphargus wileyi it lays its eggs in a gelatinous mass on the leaves that are on streams so that they can continue to develop later in the water. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, about 40% of all amphibians are threatened, but they are often ignored in conservation plans.
In the environmental stories section, Aitor Garmendia has won a third prize with his images of intensive pig farming farms. According to animal rights advocates, the industry makes access to these farms difficult, and these photos have been taken during a series of night visits to various centers. Spain is one of the largest pork exporters, along with Germany, the United States and Denmark. The awarded work is titled Within the Spanish pig industry: the pig factory in Europe. Garmendia focuses on documenting the exploitation of animals to report on its consequences.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.