World Press Photo 2011 – Before the Behind the Scenes

Every year the world’s most prestigious photography competition, the World Press Photo, gets going in Amsterdam. Hundreds of thousands of photographs are submitted by thousands of photographers from around the world. The best of the best! For two weeks a jury, consisting of some of the top individuals in the industry, deliberates and decides upon the winners.

But what happens before this, how does the World Press deal with this workflow? For the last three years I have helped ready thousands of images for the jury. It is a unique opportunity to see the best (and worst) photographs from the previous year.

For three weeks, a team of international ‘inschrijvers’ works tirelessly to ensure that the images are ready for the jury. The job isn’t easy. Shifts of 16 people scan through image after image to make sure there are no problems. They look for duplicate images, corrupted files, montages and perhaps the most important, the creation date.

Because most images (see rules for specifics) submitted to the contest need to be from the previous year, the creation date is very important. The system reads the metadata of the image and checks that against the photographers own input. We regularly see that they don’t match. At this point, the dedicated staff will email or contact the photographer for more information and to resolve the discrepancy. Hundreds of photographers received emails this year for this reason. Some are honest mistakes, some are intentional, and some have camera problems.

(Note to photographers: If you job is to record current or newsworthy events and you can’t set the date on your camera, I would like to know who you work for so that I can give them a call.)

As far as I know, this kind of dedication is unheard of in the photo competition world and is one of the reasons that the World Press is highly respected. It helps ensure that year after year, the World Press Photo competition helps decides the best photography of the year. Keep your eyes on the World Press site this Friday for the winners.