Winners of Portraits – Stories | World Press Photo 2021
Here is a look at the most compelling images from the Portraits–Stories category of the World Press Photo 2021 contest.
Over the years, World Press Photo has played a pivotal role in showcasing significant stories—revolutions against corrupt governments, migrations due to conflicts, the battle of survival of endangered species, and stories of hope and resilience. The contest recognises and awards the best visual storytellers who have gone out of their way to document these moving narratives, with an aim to bring about change. This year’s winning images represent perseverance, as the world grapples with a pandemic amidst ongoing chaos and destruction. However, there is a glimmer of hope, as a few citizens have begun to take charge.
First Prize: Gabriele Galimberti, Italy, for National Geographic
The ‘Ameriguns’: According to the Small Arms Survey– an independent global research project based in Geneva, Switzerland–half of all the firearms owned by private citizens in the world, for non-military purposes, are in the USA. The survey states that the number of firearms exceeds the country’s population: 393 million guns to 328 million people. Gun ownership is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which dates from 1791 and has long been a controversial issue in American legal, political, and social discourse. Those who argue for the repeal of the Second Amendment or the introduction of stricter gun control say that the Second Amendment was intended for militias; that stronger regulation will reduce gun violence; and that a majority of Americans, including gun owners, support new restrictions. Second Amendment supporters state that it protects an individual’s right to own guns; that guns are needed for self-defence against threats ranging from local criminals to foreign invaders; and that gun ownership deters crime rather than causes more crime. According to the independent Gun Violence Archive (GVA), the US has had more mass shootings than any country on the planet, with 633 mass shootings in 2020 alone.
Second Prize: Alisa Martynova, Russia
Nowhere Near: More than one million immigrants from Africa officially reside in Italy, as well as an unknown number of undocumented migrants, many of whom have made a perilous and often life-threatening journey to get there. The photographer compares migrants in Italy to scattered stars, a constellation of young people from different countries, of different genders, and with different traits. They have all come to Italy for different personal reasons and are celebrated for their individual stories, in a way that tries to resist stereotyping of African migrants. A 2016 study by the International Organization of Migrants pointed to insecurity, conflict, and discrimination as the main drivers of migration, not solely economic and work reasons. Discrimination on the basis of social group, religion, or sexual orientation was mentioned by almost half of the study group. In October 2020, the Italian government adopted a decree overturning many of the anti-immigration policies introduced by the previous interior minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing Lega Nord (Northern League).
Third Prize: Natalia Kepesz, Poland
Niewybuch: Military summer camps for youth have existed in Poland since the 1920s. The young participants are put through boot camps, challenged physically and mentally, and given instruction—often on former army training grounds—in skills such as tactics, survival, self-defense, and topography. They are also taught to shoot, using air rifles and sometimes replica weaponry such as machine guns and grenade launchers. The camps are promoted as opportunities for adventure and recreation, and as character-building and encouraging teamwork. Organizers maintain that participating in games with replica weapons prevents children from seeking out real ones. On the other hand, there is criticism that suggests the popularity of the camps stems from the rise of nationalism in Poland, particularly since the coming into power of Law and Justice (PiS), a right-wing populist party. Patriotism and nationalism play a significant role in school education.