The winner of World Press Photo 2012 is a Spanish young man from Barcelona who captured a special moment in time during the Arab spring. Swide investigates who Samuel Aranda is and how he got to win one of the most important Photography Awards.
The image has been defined by some critics as a contemporary Pietà (the masterpiece by Michelangelo Buonarroti). It depicts a woman wearing a black burka, embracing a young man lying defenseless. His name is Said and, while he was taking part to the revolution in Sana, Yemen, that was repressed with cruelty, he was badly injured. His Mother, Fatima, took care of him. The man who took that photography is Samuel Aranda, who won the World Press Photo 2012 – Photo of the Year, the most prestigious category among the renowned World Press Photo, an initiative that, since 1955, has a jury assigning awards to each different category of the Prize. The participants come from all over the world.
Here is Swide’s encounter with this brave, young man who wants to “observe in silence and with ethic”.
Samuel, how, when and why did you start to take photographs in your life?
I started when I was 19, in my hometown Santa Coloma de Gramanet in Barcelona. There were a lot of social movements there, and I started to document all the changes in my neighborhood for local newspapers.
Why do you think your photo won the World Press Photo 2012?
I think it is a photo that people from the Western countries can easily get involved with. It shows a mother taking care of her son, something understood all around the world.
How did you come to take that photo? Why were you in Yemen? Who did you photograph, in which situation?
I was on assignment for The New York Times, I started documenting the Arab Spring on January in Tunisia, after Egypt and Libya and then Yemen. I took the photo on October 15th, a day where pro-government snipers started to shoot the pro-democracy protestors.
Only few weeks ago you were reunited with the protagonists of that photo, Fatima and Said. How was it? What do you think has changed in Sana'a since you shot that photograph?
The meeting was great, people in Yemen are amazing and they deserve the best. So far the violence stopped, so the country is in good shape now.
Are there other photographs of yours that you would like the world to see and to get to know just like they did for the one that won, the “contemporary Pietà”?
I have special feelings for my work focused about immigration.
What do you want to communicate through your photography?
We are photojournalists, we just have to document what happens in the world. Observe in silence and with ethic.
What do you think about the whole crisis that is affecting the world today?
I think it is a moment of change: people, and especially the youth is starting to get tired of the system and want change.
You are clearly someone strictly connected to the online universe: you have your own website, your own blog. Is photography gaining or loosing value due to this revolution?
World is constantly changing, the new media channels are something positive and complementary to the traditional journalism.
Are you working on other projects?
I am starting to work to a project in order to show a positive point of view of the Arab world. I think in our countries we have a really wrong idea about Muslims. Right now I am looking for sponsors….
Your biggest dream?
Have a farm, kids, and wake up every day at 12 PM.
If you are interested in seeing his photo live and the other categories’ winners, Carla Sozzani Gallery in Milan (Corso Como 10, 0039-02.653531) will exhibit the World Press Photo 2012 prints from May 6th until June 3rd. If you can’t be there, check out our gallery and be sure to check on the official website of World Press Photo what are the upcoming dates of the touring exhibit and the other photos of the winners online.
Interview by: Elisa della Barba