‘It's Not Always Nice, But It's What Needs to be Seen'

The World Press Photo contest will be showcasing some of the winning entries during FotoWeek DC

More than 6,000 people entered their work for the 2011 World Press Photo of the Year contest, and winners in multiple categories are being featured at FotoWeek Central (1800 L St NW) through Saturday, Nov. 12.

And the times, they are a-changin.' Topics have traditionally included news, sports, nature, portraits and fine art. This year some winners involved found photography and Google Earth images.

“It’s the freeze of the moment,” said contest coordinator Micha Bruinvels. “A picture makes you more aware of the moment itself. That’s the difference from [video].”

Focusing on the 2010 news year, some subjects of photos include the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the BP oil spill, and Julian Assange. The World Press Photo of the Year is a portrait of Afghani woman Bibi Aisha, who was disfigured as punishment for fleeing her husband's house.

“[Photojournalists] are our eyes to the world; I know that sounds cliché,” Bruinvels said. “They make you aware of what’s happening in the world, and it's nonfiction so it’s not always nice, but it’s what’s happening and needs to be seen.”

Besides the World Press Photo contest, FotoWeek Central will be featuring work from National Geographic and the Pulitzer Center.

“You can actually see the world, how it is, which you probably won’t see in your daily life,” Bruinvels said. “You’re stepping out of your comfort zone -- sometimes in a brutal way, but sometimes in a really beautiful way.”

The contest has gathered some of the most inspiring and evocative work from top photojournalists and photographers around the world since 1955. More than two million people view the photos at international venues, the organization says.

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