The Importance of Memory and World Press Photo’s “Contemporary Issues”

For some years a friend and colleague of mine has visited the big Press Photo Festival in Perpignan, France. Visa pour L´ Image. We are not press photographers but we travel together with press photographers from the Nordic countries. We share the same tool, the camera, but we are to use it differently. From this article that I share you understand the importance of honesty for a press photographer. Not only when sending images to competitions. Me and my friend are, on the contrary, most often to present a portrait, food, furniture etc. in as much a positive way as possible. For us it is OK to manipulate our images. Our clients most often expect us to do it. During the festival the city is completely filled with images everywhere. Even in an old prison there are photographs exhibited. Visiting the press festival is a challenge. Images are presented from war, catastrophes or disasters from around the world. Once I had to leave a film with tears in my eyes because it was simply “too much” for me to take. Photographers doing this documentaries are heroes. They are doing important work for us to see and learn from the state of the world. Today photographers and journalists are working under great pressure and they are often taken prisoners or are being shot at in war zones. Yes, to me they are heroes. It is a personal challenge to see these images during whole days, but they are so important, and we will go there again.

Amanda Rivkin

“The struggle of man against power is the act of memory against forgetting.”
-Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

I have my own personal reasons for choosing to photograph over other mediums, for believing that we must look sometimes even when we are more often compelled not to. The collective memory of societies around the world relies on aesthetics, whether represented through flags, leaders, advertising and propaganda or news photographs. Only the last can claim to attempt to accurately reflect the conditions of all citizens but especially the disenfranchised, even if so often the focus is on podiums and the powerful.

Earlier this month, World Press Photo announced the results of its annual competition. Shortly thereafter, the mayor of the Belgian city of Charleroi sent the Amsterdam-based foundation a letter stating his objections to an essay entitled “Dark Heart of Europe” that depicted his town as some sort…

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