Photojournalism exhibit in Montreal

The World Press Photo Exhibit features photographs from the World Press Photo Contest and more

By Jonathan Feist

From Sept. 3 to Oct. 3, the Just for Laughs Gala is hosting the World Press Photo Exhibit, a display of the world’s top photographers’ photos from this year’s news.

Each year, World Press Photo invites press photographers, photo agencies, newspapers, and magazines throughout the world to participate in their “World Press Photo Contest,” by submitting their best press-related pictures.

The exhibition is shown in some 100 cities worldwide and is seen by over two million people.  In total, 5847 photographers from 128 countries submitted a total number of 101 960 images in 2010.

The photos depict areas of the news from sports to nature, from spot news to arts and entertainment. In previous years, a common theme has usually been noticeable in the exhibit, but this year’s photos seemed to cover a much broader range of news stories.

There were numerous photos taken from the protests in Iran after the June 12, 2009, elections, displaying the people’s public outcry in the streets after many felt the election had been rigged. Many photos displayed nature’s most beautiful features, from wildlife behaviour to floral formations.

The exhibition was split into three floors. The first was a special Gazette presentation, where the local newspaper proudly presented the work of eight of its own photojournalists.

The second floor is where the bulk of the photos were displayed, with a separate room that showcased more graphic photos, such as drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, stoning practices in Somalia, protests in Madagascar, and murders in Medellin, Colombia.

These types of graphic news photos often beg the question: should a photographer act on something if he can make a difference? It may pose conflict, but the World Press Photo website put it as such: “photojournalists document things the way they are. A photojournalist does not intervene.” The third floor was entirely dedicated to those photos, which focused on the Haiti Earthquake of Jan. 12. It was titled “Haiti à vif.”

It was amazing to see the contrast between some of these photos and what we are used to seeing in magazines. Shots that are so precisely snapped, often in the midst of a conflict, differ greatly from edited works.

“What we see in an advertising photo or a fine art photo is usually carefully staged. The photographer has thought about the lighting, the colors and the arrangement of the objects or people in the photo. When taking a press photo, there is often no time to think about these things in advance. News often happens unexpectedly,” states the World Press Photo website.

“It’s amazing when it hits you that these photos are documenting actual events and not staged in any way. There’s a certain intensity that you feel walking around the exhibit knowing that,” said first semester arts and culture student Todd Bison.

The exhibit continues until Oct. 3, and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It takes place at the Just For Laughs theatre, 2111 St-Laurent Blvd. The cost for students is $8.

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