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Behind the World Press Photo contest

After two weeks of deliberations, the judges of the World Press Photo contest are back, and they’ve chosen a winner. Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda’s image of a woman cradling a wounded relative in Yemen won this year.

"It is a photo that speaks for the entire region,” judge Koyo Kouoh said, according to World Press Photo’s website. “But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.”

This year’s judge chairman, Aidan Sullivan, said a group filters the more than 100,000 images during the first week, selecting images that are relevant for the judges. Initially, they’re looking for images that are attractive visually or emotionally. The second week is a more deliberate process.

“There’s intelligent discussion and debate,” Sullivan said. “Very passionate discussions” form among the 19 judges, with a majority vote needed for an image to win.

Sullivan stepped up as the chairman after Vanity Fair’s David Friend pulled out for medical reasons. Sullivan said he was delighted to do so but felt that he needed to research the previous year’s events.

“I locked myself in a room for 48 hours and looked at all the events of 2011,” he said. And a lot happened in 2011.

Photojournalism continues to be an important aspect of storytelling, Sullivan believes, more so now than ever. The photographers who go into these dangerous places so that the public can see what’s happening should be honored and applauded, he said.

But is photojournalism dying?

“It’s simple,” he said. “If there’s a story to be told, a photojournalist willing to cover it and people willing to read it, then it exists.”

- Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN