Starting with more than 97,000 entries, the jury for the World Press Photo 2009 awards had to whittle that mountain of visual data down to 64 winning images (or series) that represent the best visual reporting of the past year’s global events. 

The group of winning photos is, in some ways, a visual time capsule that touches on just a few of the noteworthy issues of the previous year. Lens Culture is pleased to present the winning photographs here in a high-resolution slideshow, with captions identifying each photographer, the agency or media responsible for the image, and a brief explanation of what is depicted in each image.

American photojournalist Anthony Suau took the top honors this year. His black-and-white picture shows an armed officer of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department moving through a home in Cleveland, Ohio, following eviction as a result of mortgage foreclosure. Officers have to ensure that the house is clear of weapons, and that the residents have moved out. The winning photograph, taken in March 2008, is part of a story commissioned by Time magazine. The story as a whole won Second Prize in the Daily Life category of the contest.

Jury chair MaryAnne Golon said: “The strength of the picture is in its opposites. It’s a double entendre. It looks like a classic conflict photograph, but it is simply the eviction of people from a house following foreclosure. Now war in its classic sense is coming into people’s houses because they can’t pay their mortgages."

Fellow juror Akinbode Akinbiyi commented: “It is a very ambiguous image. You have to go into it to find out what it is. Then all over the world people will be thinking ‘this is what is happening to all of us’.”

Juror Ayperi Ecer said: “We have something here which visually is both clear and complex…It’s not about issues — 2008 is the year of the end of a dominant economic system. We need a new language, to learn how to illustrate our lives.”

The jury gave prizes in 10 theme categories to 64 photographers of 27 nationalities from: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, El Salvador, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and USA.
The participants represent 124 different nationalities.

The members of the 2009 jury were:

MaryAnne Golon, USA, consulting photography editor

- Akinbode Akinbiyi, Nigeria, photographer, writer and curator
- Patrick Baz, France/Lebanon, regional photo-manager, the Middle East, Agence France-Presse
- Peter Bialobrzeski, Germany, photographer Laif
- Olivier Culmann, France, photographer Tendance Floue
- Erin Elder, Canada, digital media manager The Globe and Mail
- Per Folkver, Denmark, photo editor in chief Politiken
- David Friend, USA, editor of creative development Vanity Fair
- Ayperi Karabuda Ecer, Sweden/Turkey, vice president pictures Reuters
- Volker Lensch, Germany, head of photo department Stern
- Ricardo Mazalan, Argentina, photographer The Associated Press
- Arianna Rinaldo, Italy, photo editor D La Repubblica delle Donne and editor-in-chief OjodePez
- Sujong Song, South Korea, freelance photo editor

- Daphné Anglès, France/USA, European picture coordinator The New York Times
- Stephen Mayes, UK, managing director VII Photo Agency

Anthony Suau, the author of the World Press Photo of the Year 2008, will receive his award during an awards ceremony in Amsterdam on Sunday 3 May 2009. The award also carries a cash prize of 10,000 euros. In addition, Canon will donate a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera to Anthony Suau.

The awards ceremony is preceded by a three-day program of lectures, discussions and screenings of photography. The exhibition of prizewinners will be shown at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam from 4 May to 28 June and will subsequently visit over 100 locations around the world.