The World Press Photo Foundation has announced the regional winners and honorable mentions for the 66th edition of its annual photography contest. The single shots, stories, and long-term and multimedia projects feature not only those news items that dominated headlines in 2022, but also lesser-known and intimate stories that explore equally pressing issues. Photos of war-torn Ukraine, the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, and an Iranian woman defying the mandatory hijab law in a busy Tehran street are among the contenders for four global prizes, to be announced on April 20. But peeks into LGBTQ+ communities in the Philippines, New York drill music aesthetics, and a community of women living with dementia in Ghana also stood out.
This year, over 3,700 photographers from around the globe were narrowed to 24 regional winners hailing from countries including Argentina, Ghana, Spain, and the Philippines. Jurors will select a global awardee for each category from those winners whose photos represent the best in each geographic region. All 24 regional winners receive €1,000 (~$1,083), while the four global awards earn an additional €5,000 (~$5,415).
Below are six highlights from the contest, one from each region.
Southeast Asia and Oceania Regional Winner
In Manila in the Philippines, a community of older LGBTQ+ people known as “The Golden Gays” live together, support each other, and perform drag shows and beauty pageants to raise funds. Filipina photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales documented the collective with “warmth, joy, and dignity,” in the jury’s words, capturing how those in their golden years who are discriminated against for their gender identity and sexual orientation create community.
South America Regional Winner
Tsunami waves brought on by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano in January 2022 caused 12,000 barrels of oil to leak into the sea. Peruvian officials have described the oil spill as an “ecological disaster.” Musuk Nolte, a Peruvian-Mexican photographer, hauntingly captured large blotches of thick oil staining the protective garments of workers against the natural landscape at the Spanish oil company Repsol’s La Pampilla refinery site, about 19 miles north of Lima.
North and Central America Regional Winner
Dominican-American, New York-based photographer Ashley Peña explores the New York City Drill scene in her collection. She chronicles the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) surveillance of artists and rivalries amongst the new generation of rap artists. Her image of Brooklyn rapper 22Gz presents an intimate portrait of the artist who was removed from the Rolling Loud concert by the NYPD in September 2022 and October 2019.
Europe Regional Winner
In his Net-Zero Transition series, Italian photographer Simone Tramonte presents the companies and researchers developing new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The above solar plant in Fuentes de Andalucía, Spain, uses solar heat to generate uninterrupted power. Innovations, like this solar plant or a greenhouse powered by plant waste, are leading the way toward the European Union’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Asia Regional Winner
In August 2021, the United States withdrew forces from Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power. At the same time, the US government, other allied nations, and various international nongovernmental organizations also stopped sending aid to the country, which, combined with droughts, devastated the Afghanistan economy. Danish photographer Mads Nissen shows women and children begging for bread in Kabul and other realities of the struggling nation.
Africa Regional Winner
South African documentary photographer Lee-Ann Olwage brings attention to the public health issue of dementia in Ghana through her project. “The Big Forget” explores a community of women in Gambaga who have been exiled due to mental illness, one of six disparagingly so-called “witch camps.” In the photo, community leader Sugri Zenabu shows signs of confusion as she sits on a bench.