The World Press Photo Foundation announced the winners to its 60th annual photo contest, recognizing the work of photographers and photojournalists whose work captures or represents an event of great journalistic importance in the past year.
While ethical dilemmas often weave their way through photojournalism, this year’s jurors found themselves in difficult discussions when awarding 2017’s Photo of the Year.
Taken by Turkish photographer Burhan Ozbilici, the winning image depicts the very seconds after the assassination of Russian ambassador Andrey G. Karlov during a press conference at an Ankara art gallery last December. The photo depicts 22-year-old off-duty police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas as he stands over Karlov’s dead body, aggressively pointing his hand in the air and clutching his gun, shouting.
The explosive photo shocked viewers when it went viral last year and its focus caused jurors to weigh the ramifications of awarding it such a top honor, balancing the line between recognizing good work while not amplifying the message of a murderer and granting him the martyrdom he desired.
Contest chairman Stuart Franklin noted in an op-ed with The Guardian, “Placing the photograph on this high pedestal is an invitation to those contemplating such staged spectaculars: it reaffirms the compact between martyrdom and publicity.” Franklin argues that awarding this particular photograph of being the best of the year is as “morally problematic as publishing a terrorist beheading.”
However, fellow juror Mary Calvin, in a news release on the World Press Photo site, felt the image “really spoke to the hatred of our times. Every time it came on the screen you almost had to move back because it 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.”
Of the 80,000 images by 5,034 photographers who entered the contest, only 45 were awarded with prizes. Last year's top photo was a haunting photo by Warren Richardson, documenting as refugees passed an infant through razor-wire on the Hungarian-Serbian border. Check out the rest of this year’s winners below.