Agence France-Presse photographer Ronaldo Schemidt won the prestigious 2018 World Press Photo of the Year Award Thursday with a fiery image of a masked Venezuelan protester which judges said symbolised a country “burning”, reports said.
Schemidt’s photo, taken during violent clashes with riot police and protesters demonstrating against President Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Caracas last year, invoked an instant emotion, the judges said.
AFP also scooped other awards, with London-based stringer Oliver Scarff taking first prize in the Sports-Singles category and Caracas-based AFP photographer Juan Barreto coming third in the Spot News-Stories category.
Mexico-based Schemidt was covering the demonstrations for AFP in May 2017 when the then 28-year-old Victor Salazar went up in flames as he and other protestors were trying to destroy a police motorbike and the gas tank exploded in his face.
“I felt the explosion behind me and I felt the heat and at that moment I turned around, already shooting, but without seeing what was going on,” Schemidt told AFP.
His searing image shows Salazar — who is wearing a mask — running as a cloak of fire envelopes his body. He survived the incident with first and second-degree burns, the competition’s organisers said.
For the chair of the jury, Magdalena Herrera, Geo France’s director of photography, it is “a classical photo” which has “an instantaneous energy and dynamic.”
It has “colours, movement and is very well composed. It has strength. I got an instantaneous emotion,” she said.