Founded in Amsterdam in 1955, the World Press
Photo constitutes an independent, non profit organisation that produces over
100 exhibitions each year across the globe, alluring admirers in their droves
through astounding visual journalism. This emphatic tour of prize winning
photography is regarded as the most popular of its kind in the world, which
strives to expose both the horror and beauty of modern life through the lens.
location for the World Press Photo Exhibition certainly lives up to the event’s
prestigious reputation, rewarding visitors with not only an exceptional
anthology of images but also the stunning backdrop of the capital’s oldest
building, the treasured Oude Kerk, simply translated as the Old Church. Dating
back to the 1300s and originally entitled Saint Nicholas Church in honour of
the patron saint of sailors, this magnificent monument has continued its
imperative role as a religious and cultural focal point to the present day,
utilised for various official functions and temporary presentations.
positioning of the Old Church often comes as a surprise to most first time
guests of the city, as this historical construct adorns a circular plaza amidst
a series of Amsterdam’s infamously tinted windows in the heart of the Red Light
District, representing the epitome of Dutch tolerance.
encounters with this impressive edifice consisted of a distant appreciation of
the striking external architecture, enjoyed from the opposing Old Church
coffeeshop during my early trips to the capital, when sightseeing solely revolved
around this enigmatic neighbourhood and the odd venture to the Leidseplein.
After moving to the city and fervently denouncing all areas tourist prone, the
Red Light District became a lost quarter, frequented only for the appeasement
of visiting friends and family.
unabashed snobbery diminished over time for two reasons, the first being a new
found discovery of Amsterdam’s heritage, with this lively locality boasting
more history than any other part of the city, and the second being the
unearthing of the World Press Photo Exhibition. Introduced by my partner who
had attended the event for several years, my initiation to this enriching treat
occurred in the spring of 2010. Sharing a distinct lack of interest in other
art forms, aside from a mutual passion for film, the inspiring field of
photography provided a cultural outlet we could both indulge in, and the
exposition’s setting allowed a fascinating glimpse into the area’s incredible
immediate impression when entering the church is one of capacious light,
reflected in a myriad of colour through the medieval stained glass windows,
which beautifully illuminates the carpet of tombstones that secrete over 10,000
citizens. This bright yet evocative atmosphere grants a superlative platform
for showcasing photographs, which are arranged in an unassuming manner void of
embellishments, enabling direct focus on each individual image.
previous experience of the press photo world, I admit I was utterly shocked by
some of the presentations, indeed the vast majority, that stood naked depicting
moments of pure devastation from such harrowing subjects as war, poverty, crime,
and seemingly every aspect of human wretchedness. That overwhelming and totally
unprepared feeling of sadness is still as vivid today as I recollect that first
perusal through life’s injustices. Aside from such distressing images of
contemporary issues, the exhibition featured several light hearted options from
the spectrum of sport, nature and the arts, concluding a phenomenal compilation
of provocative, inspirational and breathtaking photography.
With such a
dazzling display of visual journalism on offer and a remarkable setting to
boot, the World Press Photo Exhibition comes highly recommended for anyone
seeking an unforgettable afternoon of enlightenment, with the 2013 instalment
descending upon the Old Church from Friday the 26th of April until
Sunday the 23rd of June. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance
and the exhibition is open to the public Monday to Sunday, with more information
available at the event’s website at