For the fourth time already, Ringier was looking for the best press photo of the year. 45 photographers from eight countries sent in their favorites from last year, which were then assessed by a jury of 19 experts. The photo “Kosovo Independence” by 34-year-old Serbian Marko Djurica was chosen as the picture of the year. He was in Kosovo for the Ringier daily newspaper Blic during the rioting in March 2008 and captured the moment when Serbian demonstrators clashed with NATO peacekeeping troops. He remembers the situation well: “The propensity to violence was very high, and the clouds of teargas were often so dense that I couldn’t see clearly anymore what I was shooting.” All the more reason for Djurica to be jubilant about this recognition of his not always safe work.
Thomas Seelig, curator of the Photo Museum in Winterthur and chairman of the jury, recognizes the picture as evidence of a political and historical moment: “Here, Marko Djurica needed to move freely between the two conflict parties. As a tool he used the telephoto lens, which can condense situations and pictorial spaces. In terms of perspective, the foreground, middle ground and background come close together and are only separated by different levels of sharpness. In comprehensible fashion the photo journalist’s analytical view sorts the stone-throwing protesters and the line of defense of the NATO tanks for the viewer along an extended and imaginary axis. Burning cars and barricades, deafening noises and the acrid plumes of teargas are not visible in the picture. Yet it begins to tell the story and you can virtually feel the rumble and the buzzing energy.”
Michal Beránek came in second place with his technically impressive sports study “Combat of the Ghosts”. The photo was taken for the Ringier newspaper Sport at the Olympic Games in Beijing in August 2008. “Of course, I am very happy about this award, but I also accept it in place of all the photographers at the Ringier newspaper Sport,” Beránek said modestly, “because we are a team.” The picture “Close call …” by Hungarian photographer Viktor Veres was voted into third place. His spectacular near-collision was part of an air show in the United Arab Emirates and published in the Ringier newspaper Blikk.
The Ringier Photo Award has been awarded since 2006 to recognize outstanding photos that have appeared in a Ringier publication. “The Ringier Photo Award not only honours the photographers but is also aimed at all those who cultivate the (journalistic) single frame in print or on the Internet and promote and understand it as part of our visual communication, be they editors, art directors or readers who appreciate well-edited information,” says Thomas Seelig about the Ringier Photo Award. The independent jury under his chairmanship was composed of experts from nine countries, including editors-in-chief, art directors and photo editors.