World Press Photo award withdrawn due to winner’s lack of credibility

14 Mar

Hot off the Press: Not only have World Press built anti-manipulation rules into their prestigious photography awards, World Press Photographs of the Year, they are enforcing them too.

As I wrote about in my post Photographic Competitions in 2015: Keeping it real, World Press has recently built in rules and remedies to deter manipulated photographs being submitted to its internationally renowned photography competition.  These rules and remedies were tested practically before the ink was dry on the page.

Just this month, World Press Photo stripped photographer Giovanni Troilo of his Contemporary Issue World Press Award 2015 over Troilo’s admission that one of his photographs on the theme of urban/human degeneration in Charleroi, Belgium was actually taken in Molenbeek, Brussels. According to Business Insider, “World Press Photo (WPP) said in a statement that the [award] had been withdrawn over “misleading information”.”[1]

Image from Giovanni Troilo's La Ville Noire, The Dark Heart of Europe

Click if you wish to visit the La Ville Noire online gallery on Troilo’s website

The credibility of Troilo’s work was questioned after the mayor of Charleroi complained that Troilo’s winning 12-photo series about Charleroi entitled La Ville Noire, The Dark Heart of Europe created an unwarranted negative impression of his city and in particular that an obese man in one of the photos (below), photographed in a unflattering perspective and intimated in the caption to be a recluse, was a well-known local proprietor of a local wine bar. As World Press investigated, it came to light that another photograph in the series of a painter named Vadim with live nude models in a scene suggestive of cannibalism (which I chose not to depict in this post due to content) was not photographed in Charleroi, Belgium but in Molenbeek, Brussels and that another photograph in the series in which a couple appear to have been captured having sex in a car had been staged using the photographer’s cousin. [2]

[Update 15 January 2016:  Troilo has taken down the World Press Photo award photos from his website.  However, Troilo apparently submitted them to the Sony World Photo Competition.  The photos can still be seen at ]

World Press Photo withdrew Troilo’s award. Giulio Di Sturco  and Tomas van Houtryve, second and third place winners of the category were raised to first and second place. There was no-one elevated to the now empty third place position. [3]

If you believe that Troilo’s choice to mislead was victimless, consider a) the weight of false negative meaning Troilo added to his expose of the ‘dark underbelly’ of Charleroi, and the impact that would have on the general esprit d’corps of the people of the city of Charleroi, and b) think about the person who should have come in third in the World Press Photo competition, who did not win that prestigious and career-boosting award.

Troilo states that  “people have been writing to me from Australia, from Switzerland, about exhibitions, because of the publicity.” [4]



[1] Business Insider, World Press Photo award withdrawn in manipulation scandal (4 March 2015) Accessed 14 March 2015
[2] For all of the photographs in the La Ville Noire, The Dark Heart of Europe WPP entry, see
[3] World Press Photo, List of Winners for the 2015 Competition.  Accessed 14 March 2015.
[4] British Journal of Photography, Giovanni Troilo finds a silver lining after World Press exclusion. (10 March 2015) Accessed 14 March 2015


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