World Press Photo Exhibit Makes First U.S. Stop in Philly

An international news photography exhibit featuring powerful images of conflict, hope and daily life will make its first U.S. stop in Philadelphia.

The World Press Photo exhibition opens Wednesday at Drexel University's Leonard Pearlstein Gallery. It runs through May 21. This is the first time the collection of images has been on display in Philadelphia. 

"Images are now common currency, and more accessible. The challenge is making them interesting to an increasingly sophisticated audience," said Gary Knight, World Press Photo chairman.

The nearly 150 prize-winning pictures taken last year depict scenes of war zones, natural disasters, sporting events and contemporary issues.

Knight and 2014 World Press Photo of the Year winner John Tlumacki of the Boston Globe will be in Philadelphia for a talk and unveiling of the exhibit on April 30 from 6-8 p.m. at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel  University's Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, 3401 Filbert Street. Tlumacki took second place in the spot news category for his image following the Boston Marathon bombing. 

Photography is a mainstay of our culture as images dominate many mobile applications, social media and advertising. Now more than ever, picture taking is not only a professional expertise but also an everyday opportunity in the palm of one's hands with the easy access of smartphones. 

But, the art of photojournalism and capturing powerful images to tell stories is heralded by contests such as the World Press Photo competition.  

"If one accepts that journalism is an important function of civic engagement - of our political lives, then I believe one has to accept that photojournalism - a visual layer of storytelling, is also important," said Knight.

"This has been amplified by the adaptation of image transmission in everyday life and the proliferation of vernacular visual storytelling through messaging and social media."

World Press Photo is based in Amsterdam. Its annual competition drew nearly 100,000 entries from 132 countries. Organizers say the display will travel to 100 venues worldwide and eventually be seen by about 2 million people. The exhibit stop in Philadelpha is made possible by the Kal and Lucille Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies and the Good Idea Fund.

The show includes the photo of the year. The nighttime, moonlit image portrays Africans holding up their illuminated cellphones in search of a signal.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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