World Press Photo of the Year: Young Lebanese drive through devastated neighborhood of South Beirut, Aug. 15, 2006.
February 09, 2007| By Daryl Lang | pdnewswire
A jury in Amsterdam has awarded the World Press Photo of the Year prize to New York-based photographer Spencer Platt of Getty Images, honoring a picture from the Israel-Lebanon war last summer.
The picture shows a group of five cavalier Beirut residents cruising in a red Mini convertible through a neighborhood that has been reduced to rubble by Israeli bombs.
"It's a picture you can keep looking at," said World Press Photo jury chair Michele McNally, assistant managing editor for The New York Times, in a statement announcing the prize. "It has the complexity and contradiction of real life, amidst chaos. This photograph makes you look beyond the obvious."
The photo's clutter and complexity set it apart from previous Photo of the Year winners, which tended to show individual, personal moments. By contrast, Platt's image is so dense with detail that it is only fully appreciated when reproduced in high resolution.
This is the first time a Getty Images photography has won the Photo of the Year, which has been awarded annually most years since 1955. The prize includes a cash award of 10,000 Euro.
Platt's photo was taken Aug. 15, the first day of a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. He had been in Lebanon about three weeks covering the war for Getty's wire service. While much of the press corps was based in Tyre, in the south of Lebanon, Platt says his editors directed him to stay in Beirut.
Platt had been up since 6 a.m. wandering the city with his translator. In the late afternoon, as he was preparing to return to his hotel to file his images, he spotted something red and flashy out of the corner of his eye. He spun around and quickly shot five frames of the passing convertible. Only one turned out. "On the second frame some guy in a white shirt walked in front of me and ruined it," Platt says.
Platt did not speak to the people in the car, but based on conversations with his translator he believes they are upper class Beirut residents, many of whom ventured out that day to inspect the damage to their city.
Platt sent the photo of the convertible to his editors, along with other shots from the day. "The desk said, 'Nice photo. Do you have anything wider?,'" Platt recalls. Only later, after the photo had been published in newspapers and Platt began receiving compliments, did he realize his picture was something out of the ordinary.
Platt credits his editors for keeping him in Beirut and Getty Images for supporting his work. "Getty has been great. They've never turned me down on a story," Platt says.