Press photo exhibition dominated by images of war

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The Independent Culture

Arresting images of war and brutality dominated the prestigious World Press Photo 2010 exhibition when it was launched today.

The celebration of photojournalism showcases some of the award winners, chosen out of around 100,000 entries submitted by almost 6,000 photographers from 128 countries.

The World Press Photo of the Year by the Italian Pietro Masturzo captures women shouting their dissent from the rooftops of Tehran at the result of Iran's disputed presidential election in June last year.

WPP jury chairman Ayperi Karabuda Ecer said the understated picture "invites us to discover an important news story differently, calmly, while sensing strong tension".

WPP contest co-ordinator Micha Bruinvels, speaking at the UK launch of the exhibition at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh today, said "the most important picture of the year" reflected the trend in recent years for the judges to pick less in-your-face pictures which readers find hard to stomach.

He said: "We were used to seeing really hard, on-the-spot photographs ... like the pictures we have (in the exhibition) of Afghanistan, but there's a trend for softer, more aesthetic pictures, which is happening in newspapers as well."

Hard-hitting images by American photographers show different perspectives of the war in Afghanistan.

Mr Bruinvels said the most controversial award-winning image is of a fatally wounded US soldier in Afghanistan which was taken by Julie Jacobson and published by the Associated Press against the wishes of the man's family and the Pentagon.

He said such shots were famously banned by former US president George Bush.

Mr Bruinvels said a more light-hearted photograph by David Guttenfelder features a US soldier dressed in pink "I Love NY" boxer shorts and flip-flops while engaged in a gunfight with the Taliban. It was widely published as a "patriotic photograph" by the US press.

He said the UK produced seven winners but was overtaken by Italy with nine winners.

British photographer Charles Ommanney's images of Barack Obama with eyes shut, savouring the final moment before he is sworn in as US president, won a prize.

Another prize-winning British photographer is Simon Roberts, the official election artist for the 2010 General Election, for his England at Play series which contained images of Ladies' Day at Aintree and day-trippers at Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire.

Also included in the exhibition is a "frame grab" from a video published on YouTube of a woman's blood-covered face.

The image of Neda Agha-Soltan, who died in the post-election uprising in Iran last year, received a special mention for its "exceptional impact on news reporting", according to the judges.

The travelling exhibition is at Holyrood until August 28, and will be at the Royal Festival Hall in London from November 12 to December 5.