The international jury of the 55th annual World Press Photo Contest has selected a photograph by Samuel Aranda as The Picture of the Year for 2011.
The picture shows a woman holding a wounded relative in her arms, inside a mosque used as a field hospital by demonstrators against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2011.
Samuel Aranda was working in Yemen on assignment for The New York Times.
In their press release, Word Press quotes Koyo Kouoh from Cameroon, one of the jury members: "It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria; for all that happened in the Arab Spring. But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement."
Nina Berman, a photographer from the United States and a fellow jury member said: "In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way: at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment - in moments like this."
Manoocher Deghati, France/Iran AP regional photo manager for the Middle East commented that: "The photo is the result of a very human moment, but it also reminds us of something important: that women played a crucial part in this revolution. It is easy to portray the aggressiveness of situations like these. This image shows the tenderness that can exist within all the aggression. The violence is still there, but it shows another side."
The World Press Photo Contest is universally recognised as the world’s leading international contest for photojournalists, setting the standard for the profession. The judging is conducted at the World Press Photo office, where all entries are presented anonymously to the jury, who discusses and debates their merits over a period of two weeks.
Chaired by Aidan Sullivan, UK, vice president of photo assignments for Getty Images, this year's jury members consisted of 19 recognised professionals in photojournalism: artists, photographers and photo editors from Europe, the US, Japan, Lebanon, Cameroon and Iran. The jury chose the winners from among professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from around the world, with 5,247 photographers from 124 countries participating this year with 101,254 pictures submitted by the mid-January deadline.
The jury gave also special mention to an image of a Libyan National Transition Council fighter pulling Muammar Gaddafi onto a military vehicle. The still image was taken from a video shot in Sirte, Libya, 20 October 2011.
The chair of the jury, Sullivan, commented: "The photo captures an historic moment, an image of a dictator and his demise that we otherwise would not have seen, had it not been photographed by a member of the public."
Samuel Aranda, the photographer of the World Press Photo of the Year 2011, will receive the award during the Awards Ceremony in Amsterdam on 21 April 2012. One of the prizes for the award is EUR10,000. Additionally, Canon will give a Canon EOS Digital SLR Camera and lens kit to Aranda as a gift.
Official opening at the Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein
Friday, 20 April 2012 – 17 June
Meanwhile, the exhibition will go on a worldwide tour.
According to the World Press Photo contest, last year's exhibition saw a record number 105 venues in 45 countries. The numbers suggest their programme is the most popular and wide-ranging travelling photo event in the world.
They distribute a yearbook in seven languages internationally, giving the winning images a worldwide audience of millions just in the year it is printed.