I wrote about the World Press photo contest in an earlier post. The first time I checked it out I was on my way to Egypt in the middle of the first democratic election in its history so it was especially poignant to see all the photos from the Arab Spring.
This time the poignant photos were from the Philippines. I was in Australia when the storm hit so saw lots of coverage along with lots of talk of global warming. Sadly a lot of the winning photos depict conflict and devastation. That is, of course, the stuff of photojournalists.
The contest though is about photography so there are some happy photos too. And all sorts of interesting subjects, from a cougar stalking the Hollywood sign to a lady who has rescued so many stray dogs it seems there is no room left for her.
It’s a fascinating mix of subjects and points of view to consider. It definitely makes one examine one’s own life and – in my case, appreciate how easy my life is and how privileged I am. The winning photo this year is beautiful and haunting, like a master painting. It depicts migrants standing on a beach on the coast of Africa, holding up mobile phones trying to get a signal so they can communicate with the people they’ve left behind and give an update on their progress in finding a better life.
As I noted last time, it starts in Amsterdam but moves around so check it out if it comes to a city near you.
It was also a way to escape from the rain in Amsterdam. It is a city that is noted for its “four seasons in one day” weather but this time there seemed to be only one – I think it was winter. It was windy, cold, with lots of persistent rain in any event. It was pretty miserable but it’s still hard not to love Amsterdam. And one has to admire the Dutch, biking with an umbrella in one hand!
I still haven’t written about last year’s trip to Amsterdam so I am going to mix it up a bit to hit some of the highlights from both visits.
For now we will stick with culture. The other thing that got me to drag myself across town in the pouring rain was an exhibit at the Hermitage. The Hermitage in Amsterdam is pretty cool. I have been there on most visits as the concept is that they will bring a subset of the 3,000,000 (I think) objects from the Hermitage in St Petersburg to Amsterdam as part of a special exhibition.
The current exhibition is called The Silk Road and it provides a glimpse into centuries of world history. There are artifacts from all kinds of countries, some that sounded familiar and some not.
I learned quite a bit of stuff from the exhibition but what was most interesting is that the Silk Road wasn’t just an ancient highway. It was a network of intrepid merchants and few travelled the entire length of the trading area. There was a lot of desert and camels involved and oases were key.
It certainly makes my current trip around Europe look like a piece of cake. Without all those early entrepreneurs, our current 24/7 world would not have been possible. They carried silk, spices and other hot commodities but they also carried ideas and influence.
It all definitely makes you think of your daily life, your goals and your impact on the world.
p.s. I also picked up a book on the Silk Road by Colin Thubron since I needed some English language reading material 🙂 Why haven’t I discovered him before? Highly recommended!