World Press Photo 2019 and the Empowerment of Photography

by Elizabeth Sihombing
6th September 2019
Visual journalism comes alive through telling the stories of the world in this year’s World Press Photo Exhibition at Erasmus Huis.

In the time of hostility and division between journalism and the public, there is something empowering in seeing the world through a different lens and finding the strength in others. Whether to celebrate a time-honoured event or trying to hide from the dangers that lurk in the shadows, a picture brings more than just moments, it brings change.

For the month of September, located within Erasmus Huis, The World Press Photo Exhibition 2019 is showcasing the stories that moved the world to their feet. In an unassuming atmosphere, the photos themselves stand out in a way that almost makes visitors uncomfortable in emotion. Upon closer inspection, the stories deeply rooted in the shots show what mass media doesn’t like to highlight: sensitive and taboo topics. 

There is no set section as to where the eyes should roam. The flow of the room is simple and subconsciously ask their visitors to stop for a moment and experience the pieces one by one. There are over 100 carefully selected and detailed pieces of art curated in this exhibition all taken into consideration by an independent panel of juries. Stories of heroism, survival, celebration, devastation, and discovery line the walls. 

A particular image by US photographer John Moore shows a little girl crying while her mother is being searched by an officer at the US border. At a glance, one may be moved to feel a certain level of activism and anger when seeing government officials separate families. While this emotion is expected, the photograph also humanised the larger story into something more tangible. It’s not just the fact that this photo shows the hostile and bleak environment of the US border, but anyone can relate to a child wanting the comfort of her mother. 

It’s stories like this and many more around the world that bring this exhibition to life. While most of the photographs centre on the narrative of loss and sorrow, this World Press Photo exhibition illustrates that one shouldn’t turn their eyes away from uneasy stories that are happening across the globe.


The World Press Photo Exhibition 2019 runs from 6 September to 26 September 2019 at Erasmus Huis.