Yearbook Lithuanian Press Photography 2019 is the outcome of the 18th Contest Lithuanian Press Photography. It is an exceptional publication by Lithuanian photojournalists revealing the most important moments of our life by way of photography.
Photojournalism is of key importance to a country’s culture and history not only with its visual information about events, news and everyday life but also with its invitation to critical discourse about the impact of visual culture on knowledge and comprehension of the world. This is the first and everyday meeting with visual art which reaches us through means of mass communication engaging the latest media.
Modern photojournalism is challenged by questions about its sense and mission. It is strange, however, that we still hear debates whether it should continue to meet standards of journalism and ethics when ways and forms of delivery have become freer. Sigmund Freud claimed, “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” Where does the line between freedom and possibilities come face to face with responsible and critically-minded society and yet avoids responsibility? Did Sigmund Freud allude to this when he said a century ago, “The masses have never thirsted after truth. They demand illusions, and cannot do without them.”
“I think a person is torn between belief in their mental abilities, ambitions, and drive and a search for peace, health and causality. Such is a career-driven modern person using technologies, and a new generation returning to spirituality. Some admire robots which will soon do all chores at home, while others need a house of clay and straw in the woods and a garden where they can grow vegetables. The period after World War II witnessed very interesting face-offs: space flights, ‘experiments’ with bombs, and the hippie culture bringing back a simple, down-to-earth lifestyle, to human nature,” says art critic Sandra Umbrasienė about collisions in our current life in her article “Homo homini lupus est and a reportage of a crowd scene”. She finishes her article by contemplating on responsibility, “When we look at separate historical stages and works of art that illustrate fundamental conflicts and other perceptions of a certain period, which one cannot experience otherwise, we can see modern reportage photography with different eyes. Whether we take a wolf’s or a human’s view may depend on a person who took the photos, on their views and education. Every press photographer must assume a moral responsibility vis-à-vis society.”
Photojournalists observe and tell us with the help of images how an individual feels in society. It does not matter whether those images become a symbol or an illusion – photographers and publishers share the burden of responsibility. The Contest Lithuanian Press Photography promotes the highest standards of visual journalism. The supplementary Code of Ethics has been in place for two years already. We wish to ensure that the contents of the image of the photographs you see is as little processed as possible; that is why several dozens of photographs were rejected in this year’s Contest after they had been checked with photo processing software, among them several photographs by category winners. Contest rules are amended and become stricter each year. Maintaining the highest world standards leads to society’s trust; people know that visual information presented by the winners is not only interesting and inspiring, it is reliable too.
There is no category Glamour in the 2019 Contest. This category used to be the only exception in earlier years – various ways of processing were acceptable and no standards of photojournalism were applied. Even though the terms applied to Glamour were explicit to exhibition visitors and readers, the photographs of this category were arguably different in the general context of the publication as they did not fully meet the organisers’ aim to prevent manipulations with the contents of photo images.
The Yearbook features the winners of the National Contest, the best works of Lithuanian press photographers, selected and evaluated by an international jury. You will also find a brief overview of press photographers’ activities last year, as well as the presentation of the international festival of photojournalism Vilnius Photo Circle held by the Club and the latter’s new initiative, a spring photography session in the Curonian Spit. The chapter ‘History in Photographs’ by Stanislovas Žvirgždas tells about Vytautas Augustinas (1912–1999), one of the most famous Lithuanian inter-war photographers, whose archives are kept in the National Museum of Lithuania. Tango, a book by photographer Edmundas Kolevaitis about life, Argentina, love and tango, is presented in the chapter ‘Guest’.
The total number of photographers who submitted their photographs was 111. Their photographs fall under the following categories in the Yearbook: News, Life, Portrait, European Year, Culture, Army, Sport, Entertainment, Environment and Environment, Reportage, and Photo Story. The international jury had to evaluate almost four thousand works.
The Yearbook contains the photographs that feature the main events, stories, personalities and reveal social, cultural, political scenes as a mosaic of life, which finally result in a general picture of the country’s life. We invite you all to contribute to the creation and development of a yearbook of Lithuanian visual history for future generations. The Contest Lithuanian Press Photography is held by a non-profit organisation, the Lithuanian Press Photographers Club which unites over fifty Lithuanian professional press photographers. The Contest is open to all those who work for or permanently cooperate with Lithuanian media.