Czech Press Photo exhibition opens at Prague's Old Town Hall

'What next?', photo: Michal Cizek

An exhibition of the best works of Czech press photography opened on Friday at Prague's Old Town Hall. Czech Press Photo, the domestic version of World Press Photo, is now in its twelfth year; jury members chose from over 3,000 photographs, of which 300 can be seen at the exhibition.

The winners received their awards at a ceremony on Thursday, in the presence of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and other government officials. Compared to previous years, the photos focus more on the domestic political scene, which is also the case of the winning photograph titled "What next?" which the jury called "a symbol of the complex post-election situation in the Czech Republic". All we can see are the black silhouettes of four, huddled senior Civic Democrats and - to their left - a red light. The photographer, Michal Cizek of the Czech office of the French agency Agence France-Presse, says the picture was taken three days after the June election at one of Prague's hotels, where he had arrived just after a news conference had ended.

Vaclav Klaus and Michal Cizek,  photo: CTK
"I think it best reflects the political situation in this country - politicians discussing away from the public view, and then telling the public something else. It kind of symbolises this never-ending series of meetings and talks which have led nowhere, but have been going on since the elections and look set to go on for some time to come."

Jan Sibik
One of the members of the international jury was Czech photojournalist Jan Sibik, who himself has forty different Czech Press Photo awards under his belt from the previous years, including two main prizes. He says that seeing the event through the eyes of a jury member has been a valuable experience.

"I have now seen how difficult it is, how many photos there are. I have realised that it is important how each member of the jury understands and interprets a specific photograph. If they present a strong argument in favour of a photo, then some other jury members can identify with that view and the chances of the photo increase. I think it would be useful for the contestants to be able to try that for themselves."

The exhibition of the winning works of Czech Press Photo runs until January 30, 2007.