Visual language - Metro US

Visual language

Award-winning photojournalism will be on display next week, when the World Press Photo exhibit makes a three-week stop in Toronto.

“The World Press Photo is an amazing representation of images from around the world that communicate the lives and different perspectives of societies from all four corners of the world,” said Erin Elder, digital media manager at The Globe and Mail and first and only Canadian juror for the competition.

The exhibit is a culmination of 196 images chosen by 13 international judges, whittled down from more than 96,000 photos submitted by photojournalists, newspapers, magazines and photo agencies.

“It’s an awesome task,” Elder, a two-time juror, said. “Some days you’re doing it for 16 hours … one round they ended at 5 a.m.”

Judges have roughly one week to select images based on news value and creativity from across ten categories, including spot news, sports, nature, people and arts & entertainment.

Although there were several different perspectives at the judges table, Elder says through dialogue and discussion, jurors often became united in their views. “In this way it really was selection by jury and there were no dominant selectors.”

The Photo of the Year award is given to the image that is the best “photojournalistic encapsulation the year.”

This year’s top prize went to Anthony Suau from Time USA for a black and white image of a detective entering gun-in-hand into a run-down, foreclosed Cleveland home as he ensures squatters haven’t moved in.

Although many associate the WPP exhibit with images of war and hardship, Elder said only one quarter of the images represent “bad situations.”

Included in that quarter, is Canadian Kevin Frayer’s third-place photo in the general news category of Palestinians hiding under an olive tree as Israeli troops fire tear gas near Ramallah.

Another Canadian represented in the exhibit is Julian Wainwright with his series of male divers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His photo story won third prize in the sports action category.

The year’s competition saw the largest number of entries with 5,508 photographers from 124 different countries.

As society moves online, uploading images from newborn babies to drunken nights out, Elder said more people are “speaking visually.”

“Visual communication is everywhere, it’s alive and well.”

If you go
• World Press Photo 09 runs Tuesday through Oct. 24 at the Allen Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place, 181 Bay St. Free Admission, wheelchair accessible.

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