World's best press photos go on show from today

World's best press photos go on show from today

SINGAPORE - As he raised his camera to snap a photo of a chained, naked and mentally ill man in a South Sudan prison, photographer Robin Hammond hesitated.

The New Zealander, 39, recognised that the young man had the rights to privacy and decency as an individual - rights which the prison had denied him. And he thought: "Am I denying him his rights further by taking his photograph?"

But at that moment, he made a silent deal with the young man.

"That the only way this photo is going to be okay is if it makes a difference to the lives of people with mental illness," he said.

Over the last three years, he has tried to fulfil that promise by using photos to raise awareness of the plight of Africa's mentally ill.

That photo is part of a series called Condemned, which won second place in the Contemporary Issues category of the 2014 World Press Photo award.

The annual World Press Photo exhibition, presented by Canon worldwide, is back in Singapore for the fourth time, and will be held from today to Feb 1 at the Raffles Hotel.

It is presented here by The Straits Times, and brings together 151 award-winning photographs from different countries, selected from 98,671 entries submitted by 5,754 photographers.

At the official launch last night, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, said people often capture the emotions and sentiment surrounding an occurrence merely by looking at pictures.

"In today's news media, photos are not just a nice-to-have accessory for a news story. They are increasingly becoming important as publications around the world convey important news events through a picture story," he said.

This article was first published on Jan 10, 2015.
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