The Jury of the 2018 Photo Contest Selected Venezuelan Photographer Ronald Schemidt’s Image as the World Press Photo of the Year
The World Press Photo of the Year honors the photographer whose visual creativity and skills made a picture that captures or represents an event or issue of great journalistic importance in the last year.
The jury, chaired by Magdalena Herrera, awards the prize to Ronaldo Schemidt’s picture entitled ‘Venezuela Crisis’–which also won first prize in the Spot News Single category. The image shows how José Víctor Salazar Balza (28) on fire amid violent clashes with riot police during a protest against President Nicolás Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela. Salazar was set alight when the gas tank of a motorbike exploded. He survived the incident with first- and second-degree burns. Schemidt (b. 1971) is a staff photographer for Agence France-Presse, based in Mexico.
Magdalena Herrera, director of photography Geo France and chair of the jury, said about selecting the World Press Photo of the Year, “The photo of the year has to tell an event, that is important enough, it also has to bring questions…it has to engage and has to show a point of view on what happened in the world this year.”
She describes the winning photograph, “It’s a classical photo, but it has an instantaneous energy and dynamic. The colors, the movement, and it’s very well composed, it has strength. I got an instantaneous emotion…”
Jury member Whitney C. Johnson, deputy director of photography National Geographic, added, “It’s quite symbolic, actually. The man, he has a mask on his face. He’s come to sort of represent not just himself and himself on fire, but sort of this idea of Venezuela burning.”
Jury member Bulent Kiliç, chief photographer Turkey Agence France-Presse, said, “And there is one small detail in the picture. There was a gun on the wall. It reads “paz’. It means peace. That also makes this picture strong.”
Jury member Eman Mohammed, photojournalist, said, “It just gives you that sense of more power to the people. To the ones who speak out.”
The prize-winning photographs are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 100 locations in 45 countries and is seen by more than 4 million people each year. The winning pictures are also published in the annual yearbook, which is available in multiple languages. The first World Press Photo Exhibition 2018 opens in De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, on 14 April 2018. Find out more about the exhibition.