Knight Center extends reach of World Press Photo

Courtesy of World Press Photo

A team of visual journalists at the University of Miami School of Communication has successfully launched, for the third consecutive year, a multimedia presentation of the stories behind the photographs that won the World Press Photo awards, the world’s largest and most prestigious annual contest for photojournalists.

The project involves shooting and editing video interviews with prizewinners during the annual awards ceremonies in Amsterdam.  The result of these video interviews, combined with the winning photographs, is an innovative online presentation that uses a technological tool, known as “digital loupe.”  The photographic loupe lets viewers observe fine details in the pictures on the screen, giving them a strong sense of interactivity and intimacy with the work. 

Loup Langton, UM visual journalism program director, conducted 22 interviews this year, screening about one-third of the winners in all categories.  He said World Press Photo makes the selection based on several factors, including the diversity of people from different countries, different kinds of subject matters and gender.

“These [photos and interviews] are treasures, historical archives,” Langton said.  “If you go through 22 interviews with award-winning photos in any given year, you get a pretty good snapshot of what’s going on around the world across the board, whether it is culture, conflict, sports, everyday life.”

Langton said the team spent two intense days filming the interviews at the attic of a centuries-old building—and many more days back in Miami editing. 

Jim Virga, visual Journalism faculty member, directed the video shooting; Lelen Bourgoignie-Robert, former UM visual journalism program director, who recently retired from the School of Communication, remained involved in the project as video editor; and Kim Grinfeder, visual journalism faculty member, created the multimedia presentation.  This year, for the first time, a visual journalism student also joined the team.  Lauren Whiddon, who graduated in May, collaborated as an assistant editor. 

Grinfeder said he used the photographic digital loupe because he wanted users to “play” with the Web site by enlarging details at any part of the photograph while browsing through the stories behind the pictures. 

“It is a minimalistic design meant to present the photographs above anything else with a touch of playfulness,” Grinfeder said.

The Knight Center for International Media, which is dedicated to the power of visual storytelling, has supported the development of the online presentation of the World Press Photo exhibit from the beginning as a way to reach millions of people who would otherwise not have access to these photographs and the stories behind them.

Sanjeev Chatterjee, Knight Center’s executive director, said this project helps bring this world-renowned hanging photo exhibit into the digital age.

“The multimedia presentation of these interviews is a way to extend the impact of these incredible photos beyond the exhibit hall or tent,” Chatterjee said.

The Knight Center for International Media brought the World Press Photo exhibit to South Florida for the first time in 2007, which marked the beginning of this collaboration and led to the design of the online winner’s gallery at the World Press Photo Web site.

While World Press Photo has been around since 1955, the multimedia interviews’ project is only three-years old. 

Langton said initially the photographers were almost hesitant to take the elevator to the fifth floor to be interviewed.  But in a short time, the multimedia presentation has won major awards, such as Knight-Batten and BEA Festival of Media Arts, and become highly regarded in the World Press Photo annual award ceremonies. 

“The first year that we conducted the interviews, no one knew what was going on. The photographers [and] the award winners didn’t know anything about it, ” Langton said.  “Now, the people who aren’t getting interviewed want to know why and those who are getting interviewed are all excited.  We had people come in this year and say, ‘I am so honored because we saw the interviews from last year’.  They were great.”

To watch the interviews, click here.

To learn more about World Press Photo, click here.

To learn more about the Knight Center for International Media’s projects, click here.

Posted on July 15, 2009