2023 Contest global winners announced

Introducing the 2023 World Press Photo Contest global winners

This year’s World Press Photo Contest global winners highlight the climate crisis, community, war’s impact on civilians, and the importance of press photography around the world.

The four global winners were selected from 24 regional winners, which were chosen from more than 60,000 entries. The entries were judged first by six regional juries and all winners chosen by a global jury consisting of the regional jury chairs plus the global jury chair.

Global jury chair, The New York Times photo editor and co-founder of Diversify Photo, Brent Lewis said:

“Our four global winners represent the best photos and stories from the most important and urgent topics of 2022. They also help to continue the tradition of what it is possible to do with photography, and how photography helps us to see the universality of the human condition.”

The four global winners are:

World Press Photo of the Year
Mariupol Maternity Hospital Airstrike
Evgeniy Maloletka, Ukraine, Associated Press

With Russia’s war in Ukraine constantly in the news, the Photo of the Year goes to Evgeniy Maloletka for his confronting image from the siege of Mariupol for perfectly capturing the human suffering caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a single image.

The photograph shows Iryna Kalinina (32), an injured pregnant woman, being carried from a maternity hospital that was damaged during a Russian airstrike in Mariupol, Ukraine. Her baby, named Miron (after the word for ‘peace’) was stillborn, and half an hour later Iryna died as well. An OSCE report concluded the hospital was deliberately targeted by Russia, resulting in three deaths and some 17 injuries.

Ukrainian photographer Evgeniy Maloletka was one of the very few photographers documenting events in Mariupol at that time, on assignment for the Associated Press. He said: “We came to Mariupol just one hour before the invasion. For 20 days, we lived with paramedics in the basement of the hospital, and in shelters with ordinary citizens, trying to show the fear Ukrainians were living with.”

Global jury chair, The New York Times photo editor and co-founder of Diversify Photo, Brent Lewis said:

“The haunting image from the siege of Mariupol was unanimously chosen as the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year. With the vote being decided on the first anniversary of the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the jury mentioned the power of the image and the story behind it, as well as the atrocities it shows. The death of both the pregnant woman and her child summarized so much of the war, as well as the possible intent of Russia. As one juror put it: “It’s like they are trying to kill the future of Ukraine.”

World Press Photo Story of the Year
The Price of Peace in Afghanistan
Mads Nissen, Denmark, Politiken/Panos Pictures

The Story of the Year, nine haunting but beautiful photos by Mads Nissen, refuses to let us forget the people of Afghanistan living now under the Taliban and with a lack of international aid.

After the withdrawal of US and allied forces from Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban returned to power. In response, other nations stopped providing foreign aid and froze billions of dollars of government reserves deposited abroad. Intense droughts in 2022 exacerbated the economic crisis; currently half of the country’s population do not have enough to eat and over a million children are severely malnourished according to the UN.

Mads Nissen said: “My hope with this work is more than anything to create not just awareness, but engagement with the millions of Afghans who are desperately in need of food and humanitarian aid right now.”

The jury remarked that this is truly extraordinary work especially as it covers so many different layers of life under Taliban rule. They commended the photographer’s airtight, traditional approach that elucidates the failures of the American adventure in Afghanistan to give us a well rounded look at how these failures have impacted the people. 

World Press Photo Long-Term Project Award
Battered Waters
Anush Babajanyan, Armenia, VII Photo/National Geographic Society

The Long-Term Project Award goes to Anush Babajanyan, for her work spanning years to highlight a story not often covered outside Central Asia about water management impacts after the end of the Soviet Union made worse by the climate crisis - but most importantly, showing the powerful spirit of people forced to adapt to new realities.

For decades, interdependence between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, upstream on the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan downstream, encouraged peaceful interaction over use of this resource – but drought, conflicting needs, and water mismanagement are disrupting this long-standing cooperation. Post-Soviet independence of the four countries, the subsequent growth of national identities, and the rise of privatized industries all contribute further to this imbalance.

The photographer documented the resilience of people living in this region, who have been dealing with issues of water management for many years. She said: “Water intertwines with their lives. People’s lives are also changing because the climate is changing, and they have to adapt to that, too. I wanted to capture this powerful spirit. One of the reasons I'm happy that this project was a winner is that it means I can share the story with a wider audience. Stories from Central Asia are not covered enough.”

The jury commended the photographer’s complex, multilayered approach, staying clear of regional clichés and instead, thoughtfully represents water struggles/scarcity by depicting people’s diverse relationships to and uses of water in its various forms. 

World Press Photo Open Format Award
Here, The Doors Don't Know Me
Mohamed Mahdy, Egypt

The Open Format Award goes to Mohamed Mahdy, who is collaborating with neighborhood residents of Al Max, in Alexandria, Egypt, to preserve the memory of their fast-disappearing fishing village and has invited the whole world to participate through an interactive website.

For generations, the residents of Al Max have lived and worked on the canal that leads to the Mediterranean Sea. In 2020, the Egyptian government began evicting parts of Al Max and relocating people to housing several kilometers away from the canals, not only demolishing homes, but also endangering the collective memories and local culture embedded in the neighborhood. The stories featured here speak to the precarity of people everywhere striving for recognition amid global economic and environmental upheaval. Utilizing found imagery and the artist’s own photography, Mahdy’s project presents an elegy to a communal way of life on the cusp of disappearing.

“My project talks about loss of memory, our culture and identity fading away,” the photographer said.

The jury acclaimed the range of available tools used by the photographer to tell a unique story, including images, audio, handwritten text, maps, and drawings that elevated the selection of photographs. They were impressed by the photographer’s thorough research and engagement with the images, which resulted in a holistic story and gave the audience the opportunity to visualize and interact with the issue at hand.

World Press Photo Exhibition 2023

These stories, alongside the other winners, will be shown to millions of people as part of our annual exhibition in over 60 cities around the world - including Amsterdam (opening 22 April), Rome, Berlin, Barcelona, Zurich, Tel Aviv, Taipei, Singapore, Mexico City, Jakarta, Sydney, and Toronto. See our exhibitions calendar.