Two Poles are among this year’s 59 winners in the prestigious World Press Photo competition. Rafal Milach of Gliwice was a first-time winner while Tomasz Gudzowaty of Warsaw won for the sixth time. Milach, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, won first prize in the category of Arts and Entertainment Stories for photos of retired circus artists. His pictures show old men in retirement homes clinging to memories of the life they loved. Some donned circus costumes for the photographer. Milach, who took the photos over several years, said he has entered photos in the competition for years but his only reward until now has been “a free issue of the exhibition catalogue.” Milach, whose photos have been published in magazines such as “Newsweek,” “Viva” and “Przekroj,” also studied at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opawa.
Gudzowaty won a third place in the Individual Sport Photo competition for a picture of people doing yoga in Varanasi, India. The four photos that earned him wins in the past have been connected with sport or nature.
British photographer Tim Hetherington won the biggest prize of the competition – the Photo of the Year 2007 award. The photo shows a young American soldier in a bunker in Afghanistan. One of his hands is on his forehead and the other on his helmet. He looks as if he has just escaped death. There is fear in his eyes. He appears to be barely breathing. Hetherington took the picture in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan on Sept. 16, 2007. “The viewer can see the helplessness the soldier is feeling”, said Gary Knight, chairman of the selection committee.
A record 5,019 photographers from 125 countries submitted 80,536 photos in this year’s competition. Fifty-nine photographers from 23 countries won awards. The competition has taken place each year since 1955. There is great diversity among this year’s winners, although the vast majority are portraits. Some photos are classic press photography, depicting wars and other great events. Others are stylized, looking almost like paintings rather than photos. The winning photographs can be seen at the web site: