A touching image showing two people embracing for the first time in months due to the global pandemic has been declared the winner of the World Press Photo competition in 2021.
Danish photographer Mads Nissen was awarded the first prize in the prestigious contest in an online ceremony hosted in Amsterdam on Thursday.
The winning image captures the impact of the pandemic on people worldwide like no other, the jury said.
Other winners included Antonio Faccilongo, of Italy, for the best photo reportage. His series showed the effects of the conflict with Israel on Palestinian couples.
The winning photograph, called “The First Embrace,” was taken for Danish daily Politiken and shows Brazilian Rosa Luzia Lunardi, 85, as nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza hugs her for the first time in five months, in a nursing home on August 5, 2020.
The caregiver wears a plastic cape that allows them to hug without physical contact. As they embrace, the cape flares outwards, making the nurse look like an angel. The main message of the image is “love and compassion,” said photographer Nissen.
The jury called the image iconic, saying it summed up the Covid 19 pandemic.
“I read vulnerability, loved ones, loss and separation, demise, but, importantly, also survival — all rolled into one graphic image,” said jury member Kevin WY Lee.
Meanwhile photographer Faccilongo’s reportage “Habibi,” for the Getty agency, presents love stories against the backdrop of the war between Israel and Palestine, he said. “My work has the ambition to be a cultural bridge to bring people together.”
Prizes were awarded to photographers in eight categories.
One of this year’s major themes was the coronavirus pandemic, alongside the protests in the United States following the death of African-American man George Floyd, and the devastating blast in the port of Beirut.
The competition attracted 4,315 photographers from 130 countries.
The two main prizes are endowed with 5,000 euros (5,980 dollars) each. The winning photos are to be shown in an exhibition in 50 countries.