The winners of the 60th edition of the World Press Photo competition have been announced, with Istanbul-based Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici taking the top spot with an ‘explosive’ image capturing the assassination of a Russian ambassador late last year. Each year, the World Press Photo works to honour a photographer who captures or represents an image of significant journalistic importance in the past year, with particular attention placed on their visual creativity and skill.
Ozbilici, whose shots also won first prize in the Spot News Stories category, caught on camera the moment 22-year-old off-duty police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş shot and killed Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art exhibition in Ankara (19th December 2017). Altıntaş would go on to wound three other people before being killed by police officers in a shootout. He reportedly shouted “Revenge for Aleppo and Syria,” at the scene, a moment captured in Ozbilici’s photographs.
After the incident occurred, Ozbilici revealed that he had not even intended to be there; he only attended because the gallery was on his way home. Speaking about the incident to the Guardian at the time, he said that he felt a large sense of responsibility at the scene: “I’m a journalist. I have to do my work. I could run away without making any photos… But I wouldn’t have a proper answer if people later ask me: ‘Why didn’t you take pictures?’”
Mary F. Calvert, member of the jury, spoke about the winning photograph:
“It was a very very difficult decision, but in the end we felt that the picture of the Year was an explosive image that really spoke to the hatred of our times. Every time it came on the screen you almost had to move back because it’s 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.”
The World Press Photo 2017 contest drew entries from around the world: over 5,000 photographers from 125 countries submitted 80,408 images. The jury gave prizes in eight categories to 45 photographers from 25 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Syria, New Zealand, Turkey, UK, and USA.