The World Press Photo Awards and Ed Kashi's The Leaves Keep Falling

With all the fuss the winner of this year's World Press Photo has caused (well, to be fair, it is the use of that photo alongside a controversial headline by Time magazine that is the problem) it is often difficult to remember that the competition often rewards some other worthy work.

One such winner for me this year was Ed Kashi with his photo of 9 year old Nguyen Thi Ly who suffers from Agent Orange disabilities in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Ed Kashi, USA, VII Photo Agency.
Nguyen Thi Ly, 9, suffers from Agent Orange disabilities, Da Nang, Vietnam

If you head over to VII's website, you can view The Leaves Keep Falling - a video piece on the same story - which I watched the other day on a commute and had me tearing up to hear the simple tale of normal people having to cope with the barbaric effects of chemical warfare perpetrated long before they were born.

The agent orange story is not a new one, with Philip Jones Griffiths famously making it part of his lifelong commitment to reporting in Vietnam but as the generations affected in Vietnam prove, it is a story that will not go away. As I have said to colleagues and students alike, just because a story has been told once, doesn't mean it can't be told again.

With the debates surrounding the current war in Afghanistan, and the sensational winner of this year's world press competition, we would do well to take a step back and remember the long term affects of our actions and to think carefully about the consequences of what we do.

I believe this is incredibly important. I wanted to work as a documentarian and a journalist precisely because I had my eyes opened to a wider world through the work of others and I wished not only to explore more for myself, but to share that, and share it responsibly. I am a long way from being where I want to be in regards to this, but I'm in it for the long haul, not for this season's awards.

If it were up to me, out of all the World Press category winners, I would have awarded Ed's work the top prize in this year's competition. Not only for his incredible photography, but for the context in which it resides.


No comments: