Mexican image of Brazil wins World Press Photo prize


Mexican photographer Carlos Cazalis was one of the winners in this year’s World Press Photo contest. The photographer was given first prize in the Contemporary Issues section for this image he took in São Paulo, Brazil, last year. CazalisPortraitSmall_MG_9765

The photo shows a man sleeping, wrapped in a blanket against the cold, outside São Paulo’s elite Jockey Club.

More than 10,000 people in the Brazilian metropolis are homeless. The city’s authorities maintain 35 shelters for overnight stays, with capacity for 8,000 people. But many of those who sleep on the streets resist the rules and social conventions enforced in the shelters, according to the World Press Photo site.

Cazalis took questions about the photo at a press launch of the World Press Photo exhibition at the Franz Mayer Museum in downtown Mexico City Wednesday. He said that he is fascinated by today’s modern cities and the lack of contact inhabitants have with nature.

"We live beneath concrete in an unnatural state," he said.

Speaking about homeless people who live on the streets of Brazil, Cazalis said: "Many of them are happy to be homeless – what pains them is the treatment they receive from people. "Sleeping on the street isn’t comfortable for anyone, but deciding where in a city you’re going to spend the night is a freedom few of us have."

The winning photo was distributed by the photo agency Corbis.

The exhibition, which will visit more than 45 cities as part of its world tour, includes work from 62 photographers from 27 countries.

Here in Mexico City, the show will open its doors to the public on Friday and run until Sept. 6. Other winners from Latin America included Lissette Lemus of El Salvador, who won first prize for daily life with this image about gang violence in her country, and Luiz Vasconcelos of Brazil, who impressed the judges with this shot of a woman resisting a police eviction of squatters from private land near the city of Manaus, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas.

The photo of the year prize went to American photographer Anthony Suau. His winning image shows detective Robert Kole of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office entering a home in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 26, 2008, following a mortgage foreclosure and eviction.

"He needs to check that the owners have vacated the premises, and that no weapons have been left lying around. Officers go in at gunpoint as a precaution, as many houses have been vandalized or occupied by squatters or drug addicts," says the World Press caption on the image.


01+Anthony+Suau(2) Click here for a full list of winners.

— Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Images: Top: A man sleeps, wrapped against the cold outside São Paulo’s elite Jockey Club. Credit: Carlos Cazalis.

Middle: Photographer Carlos Cazalis. Credit: Victor Romero.

Bottom: Detective Robert Kole of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office entering a home in Cleveland, Ohio, following mortgage foreclosure and eviction. Credit: Anthony Suau.

* This post was edited at 12:26 pm Mexico City time. The winning photo was distributed, not bought, by Corbis, the photo agency that represents Cazalis.