Code of ethics

2024 Contest code of ethics

The World Press Photo Contest rewards the best photojournalism and documentary photography of the past year. The criteria for entries is that they are accurate and visually compelling insights about our world.

World Press Photo connects high-quality and trustworthy non-fiction reporting and storytelling with a global audience – through digital channels, exhibitions, and the yearbook. Millions of people around the world see the winning photographs and stories, often for the first time. Being a global platform gives us the responsibility to present the most accurate and compelling work.
Entrants to the World Press Photo Contest must ensure that all entered material has been created ethically and provides a fair representation of the stories and people photographed. Entrants must comply with the following code of ethics:

  1. Must be aware of the influence the photographer’s presence can have on a scene they photograph.

  2. Must not intend to mislead by recreating or staging events. In certain cases, deliberate reenactments can be acceptable if they serve a clear purpose for the story and/or issue being documented, and the photographer must be transparent about their motivation and process. Any direct influence over the scene, such as reenactments or posed portraits, must be included in the captions.

  3. Must ensure that individuals and/or groups photographed are treated with dignity and respect, and that the photographer causes no physical and/or psychological harm, further stigmatization, discrimination or rejection by their local communities, especially when photographing vulnerable individuals and/or groups, and children.

  4. Must ensure that consent has been appropriately handled, with consideration for relevant local and international laws and for the ability of an individual to give informed consent, for example when working with vulnerable people and children. Consider whether individuals and/or groups are adequately informed about the potential use and distribution of photographs via the contest, and what impact that could have on them. Information about consent should be indicated in the caption.

  5. Consider whether measures need to be taken to protect identity especially when photographing vulnerable individuals and/or groups and children–either when photographing or in the caption.

    Photographing children and teenagers can be highly sensitive, as they are more vulnerable and not always able to make good judgments for themselves. In these cases, the right to freedom of expression has to be balanced against the rights of the child to privacy and freedom from fear and exploitation.

    5.1. Always change the name and obscure the visual identity of any child who is
    identified as:

    - a victim of sexual abuse or exploitation;
    - a perpetrator of physical or sexual abuse;
    - living with a condition or disease that might stigmatize them, unless the child, and a parent or a guardian gives fully informed consent;
    - charged or convicted of a crime, or engaged in or accused of criminal activity.

    5.2. In certain circumstances when a child may be subject to the risk or potential risk of harm or retribution, consider changing their name and obscure their visual identity, including in cases when the child is identified as:

    - a current or former child combatant;
    - an asylum seeker, a refugee or an internally displaced person.

  6. Must ensure that independence is upheld and must not pay individuals and/or groups for information or participation, or accept any form of compensation – such as gifts, money or favors–from those who may seek to influence the story.

  7. Must ensure that the personal safety of everyone involved – including the photographer, fixers and individuals and/or groups photographed – is appropriately handled. Avoid taking unnecessary risks that can result in dangerous situations.

  8. Respect the work of other photographers and do not plagiarize. Consider whether work repeats well-known examples or is distinctive.

  9. Must ensure that the content and edit of photographs and stories present an accurate and comprehensive representation of individuals and/or groups. Consider whether graphic and violent photographs are appropriate for the story presented, especially when they involve vulnerable people and children.

  10. Avoid reinforcing stereotypes and be aware of biases that can result in misrepresentation.

  11. Ensure captions, and any other textual elements, are accurate.

  12. Must be open and transparent about the entire process through which their photographs are made, and are accountable to the World Press Photo Foundation for their practice.

World Press Photo’s code of ethics is in line with journalistic and documentary practices and standards. The organization reserves the right to seek clarification or explanation should concerns arise during or after the judging process.

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