Every picture tells a story

One of the highlights of Portimão’s summer events is the World Press Photo 2004 exhibition this week. Running until July 11, the exhibition offers the opportunity to view the best in world photojournalism, on display at Portimão’s Zona Ribeirinha (riverfront).

The World Press Photo 2004 exhibition is a collection of around 200 photographs capturing unique moments of the past year. To qualify the images must be of both “great journalistic importance” and of an “outstanding level of visual perception and creativity”.

With more than 60,000 images, the 2004 contest attracted a record number of entries from 4,176 professional photographers based in 124 countries. After judging, 62 photographers from 23 nationalities were awarded prizes in 10 categories.

The first image that greets you as you enter the exhibition is that of an Iraqi prisoner, with a black hood over his face, comforting his four-year-old son at a regroupment centre for POWs near An Najaf, Iraq. The picture, by French photographer Jean-Marc Bouju, was selected by the jury as the World Press Photo of the Year.

A photograph that represents the ‘other side’ of the Iraq war is of a boy with burns over most of his torso, whose arms had to be amputated, lying in a hospital in Baghdad, unaware that both his parents are dead. The picture by Russian photographer Yuri Kozyrev for Time Magazine was awarded the first prize in the news story category. Another powerful and equally disturbing image is that of a 15-year-old Afghan woman being treated for burns after dousing herself in kerosene – a scene that is becoming common due to the infiltration of western culture, creating frustration for women whose status in society has not changed since the American invasion. The picture, by American photographer Stephanie Sinclair for Marie Claire, was awarded first prize in the Contemporary Issues category.

There are lighter moments in the exhibition. A shot of the Sierra Leone National Amputees team enjoying a practice game of football in the rain, by American photographer Adam Nadel, is an inspiring image. And British photographer Nick Danziger captured a moment that Tony Blair should be a little embarrassed about. It shows Blair looking eye to eye with George W Bush – is there a hint of intimidation?

Visão magazine is also holding its fourth photojournalism exhibition alongside the World Press Photo display. Several images re-live last summer’s forest fires. One particularly moving shot is of two children and their grandmother leaving their village as flames are close to destroying everything they possess. And if eyes could tell a story, the dark eyes of a gypsy girl holding her doll in a neighbourhood in Braga, well known for its crime and drug trafficking, could do just that.

The World Press Photo 2004 exhibition and the Visão Photojournalism exhibition are open Monday to Friday, from 12pm to 11pm and Saturday and Sunday, from 3pm to 11pm. Admission is free. By Mark Lane