Refugee crisis features in World Press Photo Exhibition

Refugee crisis features in World Press Photo Exhibition

The World Press Photo Exhibition opens its doors in Auckland on Saturday, giving Kiwis a snapshot of the globe's best press images from last year.

Photos show the distressing reality of everyday life for people around the world -- from the refugee crisis and the war in Syria, to the Paris attacks, the devastating earthquake in Nepal and clashes in the US over police shootings.

"It'll give you all the big news stories of last year in one room, so it gives you an idea of all the things that are going on in the world," says curator Anais Conijn.

"It tells you stories that are very important that we wouldn't know about unless the photojournalists were traveling to those conflict areas and putting themselves in harm's way in order to bring us those stories.

"But it also gives you spectacular nature photography, and really beautiful conceptual portrait photography."

The photos are part of the World Press Photo contest, which celebrates the power of photojournalism.

The exhibition features the first, second and third winners in single images and stories across seven categories -- contemporary issues, daily life, general news, long-term projects, nature, people, sports and spot news.

Nearly 100,000 images were submitted to the contest from 5692 photographers from 131 different countries, and around 150 of those will feature on the walls of the exhibition.

Refugee crisis features in World Press Photo Exhibition

Warren Richardson, Australia, 2015, Hope for a New Life

This year's winner was Warren Richardson -- an Australian photographer working in Eastern Europe.

His photograph shows a baby being handed through a hole in a razor wire barrier, to a Syrian refugee who has already crossed the border from Serbia into Hungary, near Röszke.

"I met six Syrian refugees, who were all engineers, and they were scoping the fence line where the police were stopping them," says Mr Richardson.

"They found a gap in the fence and they split the groups up and said, 'When we say 'run', basically, run -- move. Don't stop.'"

He says it was a "cat-and-mouse" game with police.

"They weren't going to stop these people. These people had a mission. That was their mission -- to get through the fence line."

Ms Conijn has high praise for his work.

"Warren Richardson's image is very special in the sense that it is taken by moonlight," she says.

"Had he used his flash, he would have given their location away, and there were police trying to find them and keeping them from crossing the border.

"He manages to capture in a still image the very abstract notion of a border between countries, but also of the actual movement of going across that border. And because they're passing a baby, it's really just a hope for a new life that is captured in that single image."

The exhibition's long-term projects category allows photographers to hand in work that they've been working on for a long time.

Refugee crisis features in World Press Photo Exhibition

Mary F Calvert, United States, 2015, Sexual Assault in America's Military

Ms Conijn says a project by Mary Calvert showing the consequences of abuse and rape in the US military is particularly moving.

"She tells their stories and she takes very, very affecting portraits of these women. That's a special story."

Open seven days a week, the exhibition is in Auckland until July 24. All profits go to the Rotary Club of Auckland's supported charities.

World Press Photo Exhibition:

July 2-24, 2016

Level 6, Smith and Caughey's, 253-261 Queen St

Weekends $15 / Weekdays $12 / Students $10