The World Press Photo Contest winners for 2012 were announced Friday in Amsterdam and a touching picture of a woman holding a wounded relative during protests in Yemen by photographer Samuel Aranda took top honors.
Jurors said the photo of the veiled woman and bare-chested man captured multiple facets of the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East last year. It was shot at a field hospital inside a mosque in Sanaa on October 15.
Aranda's photo was selected from 101,254 images submitted by 5,247 photographers from 124 nations.
It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring, jury member Koyo Kouoh said. But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.
In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment, jury member Nina Berman noted. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment - in moments like this.
The World Press Photo jury was made up of 19 internationally recognized professionals in the field of photojournalism and documentary photography.
A freelance photographer from Spain, Aranda traveled to Yemen on assignment for The New York Times.
He received news of the win Thursday night at around 7 p.m. and told the British Journal of Photography at that exact moment, I was checking my bank account because I didn't know how I was going to pay my rent this month.
I think it's really important when you receive such an award to remember that all of this work is for the people we're documenting, he said. What I would really like is for this photo to help the people of Yemen. I think it's a country that is often forgotten.
Aranda spent nearly three months in Yemen from October 2011, and is planning to go back for the elections in the next few weeks, again for The New York Times. He was the only Western photographer in the country at one point, but was aided by local wire photographers.
Aranda's photo also took first place in the People in the News Singles category. He will receive a cash prize of 10,000 euros ($12,366) at a ceremony later this year.
Institute photographer Jodi Bieber won the award last year for her controversial photo of a mutilated Afghan woman. Her image made the cover of TIME magazine on Aug. 9, 2010, and quickly found itself at the center of a heated debate.
In all, 57 photographers of 24 nationalities won awards in a field of more than 5000 professional photographers.
Press Start to view a selection of the World Press Photo winners.