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The best of the best

The Czech Press Photo exhibition opens for the 15th consecutive year, showing the best images from the news and beyond from the past 12 months

Posted: November 18, 2009

By Philip Heijmans - For the Post | Comments (0) | Post comment

The best of the best

Courtesy Photo

Joe Klamar's picture of U.S. President Barack Obama speaking in Prague April 4 won the Photo of the Year award at the Czech Press Photo competition.

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Sometimes, the straight approach pays off.

When U.S. President Barack Obama visited Prague in April, the world's press establishment followed. Photographers scrambled to capture an iconic image. Joe Klamar succeeded.  

"It seemed like an obvious shot at the time. I thought all the other photographers would get it, as well," says Klamar, winner of the Czech Press Photo (CPP) "Photo of the Year" award for 2009.

Klamar's picture - depicting Obama speaking with First Republic President Tomáš Masaryk mirroring him across Hradčanské náměstí and the cityscape in the background - and all the other winners are now on display at Old Town Hall. The exhibition opened Nov. 17 and runs through Jan. 30.

Czech Press Photo 2009
Křížová chodba and Rytířský sál, Old Town Hall
When: Open daily through Jan. 30, 2010, 10 a.m.-6p.m.
Admission: 100 Kč, students and seniors 50 Kč, school trips 20 Kč per person

Photo of the Year
Joe Klamar,
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Grant of Prague
Milan Jaroš,
Spot News
Michal Čížek,
General News
Jan Zátorský,
Lidové noviny
People in the News
Joe Klamar,
Eduard Erben,

"I just wanted to connect Obama to Prague somehow," Klamar said.

The judges seem to believe he did more than that.

"The photograph captured us with its surprising and unusual composition of an event of national and international importance," reads the panel's statement. "It symbolizes an encounter of the hopes of the past - President Masaryk - and the precipitous changes of the present - the election of the first black American President. It expresses a new hope for our world."

President Václav Klaus awarded Klamar, a 44-year-old Canadian Slovak, the Crystal Eye and 120,000 Kč ($7,100) Nov. 16 while Milan Jaroš received another 120,000 Kč grant for a photo series on autistic children.

This is the 15th year of the CPP competition. Other works at the exhibition come from winners in eight different categories. Narrowed from more than 4,300 submitted photos from 281 photographers, winners were chosen by a panel of international judges including British writer/photographer Tom Ang and German Geo magazine Art Director Ruth Eichhorn. Last year's CPP exhibition drew 40,000 people.

"After more than 40 years of a totalitarian regime in this country, when press photography served primarily as a tool of political propaganda," CPP Chairwoman Daniela Mrázková said. "CPP has become a platform for independent photographic testimony, independently from the media, which has been becoming ever more commercial."

Michal Čížek won first place in the Spot News category for his series "Eggs for Paroubek," in which Czech opposition leader Jiří Paroubek was famously pelted with eggs during a political rally in May. "Those pictures were taken for a press agency. It is my everyday work," he said.

After its stint at Old Town Hall, CPP takes its show on the road, when the Foreign Affairs Ministry puts the display on a world tour.

"Czech and Slovak photography is known for an attractive mix of lyricism, poetry and gentle irony, which also makes it very interesting," Mrázková says. "I think it is interesting for people to see the life in our country and also the way our photographers see the rest of the world."

- Petr Cibulka Jr. contributed to this report.

Philip Heijmans can be reached at

Tags: Czech Press Photo, photography, Joe Klamar.

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