Aussies rule at winning photojournalism

Here’s a good news story for local photojournalists! Australians are over-achievers when it comes to the prestigious World Press Photo Contest.

Warren Richardson’s photo won the 2016 World Press Photo of the Year award. Photo: Warren Richardson.

The world leading photojournalism contest published data in its 2018 Technical Report, which shows Australians win awards every year, despite making far fewer submissions than other countries.

Yep, Australian photojournalists are about quality submissions – not quantity!

Since 2007, Australia photographers have received a total of 26 Awards nominations – ranking sixth, beaten by USA at the top, followed by, Italy, France, China, and Germany.

This is an impressive score, given there’s been less than 100 submissions each year from Australians over a three year period, whereas all countries winning more awards almost all have upwards of 200 submissions each year.

For instance the USA had 512 submissions in 2016, 503 submissions in 2017, and 470 submissions in 2018. It has received a total of 106 award nominations, far ahead of the competition with China coming in second with 69.

Germany, ranked ahead of Australia in fifth place with a total of 31 awards, had 231 submissions in 2016, 199 in 2017, and 182 in 2018.

Australian photographer Raphaela Rosella won the 2015 Portrait Singles category. Laurinda waits in her purple dress for the bus that will take her to Sunday School. She is among the many socially isolated young women in disadvantaged communities in Australia facing entrenched poverty, racism, trans-generational trauma, violence, addiction, and a range of other barriers to health and well-being. Picture: Raphaela Rosella.

It’s unclear exactly how many entries come from Australian photographers each year, but it’s definitely below 100 over the last three years. WPP only published data from the countries exceeding 100 submissions – a total of 13 countries. All the countries ahead of Australia feature in this list.

Dominating the last three years
Australia has placed particularly well in the last three years, with a total of eight award nominations – ranking fourth in total.

To put this in perspective, the three countries which totalled more awards over the three year period – USA, Germany, and Italy – had more than double the amount of entrants in the contest than Australia.

Australian photographer, Daniel Berehulak, working for the NY Times, won the 2017 General News Stories category for his photo series, They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals, which explores the brutal killings in the Phillippines from President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

Italy, for example, received 11 award nominations in three years from a total of 1209 submissions. Germany, Australia’s closest competitor, received 10 nominations from a total of 615.

Compare this with Australia winning eight awards with fewer than 300 submissions, and it’s starting to look like the country is breeding award-winning photojournalists.

Decade low numbers
The WPP Contest is free to enter. This year the contest received 4548 submissions from 125 countries. This is the lowest number of submissions since 2007, and since 2016 there’s been a noticeably drop in participation, with 5775 in 2016, 5034 in 2017, and 4548 this year.

With almost 500 less entries this year compared with last, which also recorded a significant drop in participation, the WPP may be left wondering why fewer photojournalists are entering the contest.

Only 16 percent of entrants were female photographers, which may reflect a gender diversity issue in the global photojournalism industry. While photojournalism has a reputation for being a male-dominated industry, it’s worth noting this statistic isn’t accurate for any particular country including Australia.

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