Winners of the 51st annual World Press Photo Contest were announced on 8 February 2008. This year, a record number of participants from 125 countries submitted their work to the contest. A total of 5,019 photographers sent in 80,536 images. Members of the international jury looked at every single photo (!), and then culled the list down to 59 winning photographers.

As always, the winning photos are superb and inspiring. Our hats go off to the photographers — and to the jury — for making this event one of the most meaningful and relevant photography contests every year.

The jury gave prizes in 10 theme categories to 59 photographers of 23 nationalities from: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, People’s Republic of China, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, USA, and Zimbabwe.

We are happy to present 21 of the winning photos. UK photographer Tim Hetherington captured top honors with the World Press Photo of the Year. The picture was taken 16 September 2007 and shows a US soldier resting at “Restrepo” bunker, named after a soldier from his platoon who was recently killed by insurgents. The 2nd Battalion Airborne of the 503rd US infantry is undergoing a deployment in the Korengal Valley in the Eastern province of Afghanistan. The valley is infamous as the site of downing of a US helicopter and has seen some of the most intense fighting in the country.

Hetherington’s photograph is part of a picture story that was also awarded 2nd Prize in General News Stories. He had traveled to Afghanistan on assignment for Vanity Fair.

“This image shows the exhaustion of a man – and the exhaustion of a nation,” says jury chairman Gary Knight, and adds “We’re all connected to this. It’s a picture of a man at the end of a line.”

The 2008 jury was:

- Gary Knight (UK), photographer and chairman VII Photo Agency (Jury Chair)
- Jodi Bieber (South Africa), photographer Noor
- Oliver Chanarin (South Africa/UK), photographer Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
- Erin Elder (Canada), photo editor The Globe and Mail
- Craig Golding (Australia), photographer Sydney Morning Herald
- MaryAnne Golon (USA), director of photography Time magazine
- Maria Mann (USA), managing editor European Pressphoto Agency
- Enric Martí (Spain), regional photo editor Latin America & Caribbean, The Associated Press
- Michael Nichols (USA), photographer National Geographic Magazine
- Simon Njami (Cameroon), independent curator
- Swapan Parekh (India), photographer
- Stephan Vanfleteren (Belgium), photographer
- Sujong Song (South Korea), freelance photo editor

Tim Hetherington, the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year, will receive his award during an awards ceremony in Amsterdam on Sunday 27 April 2008. The award also carries a cash prize of 10,000 euros and a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III camera.

The awards ceremony is preceded by a three-day program of lectures, discussions and screenings of photography. The exhibition of prizewinners will visit over 100 locations around the world.