Westport’s Spencer Platt Wins Photo of Year Award
For Spencer Platt, a native of Westport, Conn., who roams the world for the Getty Images photo agency, winning the World Press Photo of the Year award has always been a dream.
Today (Friday, Feb. 9, 2007) that dream came true.
Platt was announced as the winner of the 50th annual World Press Photo contest, based in Amsterdam and judged by an international panel of photographers and editors. It is considered the top prize in photojournalism.
Platt’s image of a group of young Lebanese driving a car through bombed-out south Beirut last summer beat out 78,083 images from 4,460 professional photographers in 124 countries.
“It’s definitely a shock,” the 36-year-old, 1989 Staples High School graduate said in a telephone interview with WestportNow.com from Brooklyn, where he now lives.
“I’ve never won a World Press Award. It’s the Tour de France of photography. It’s something you dream about.”
Platt took the winning image on Aug. 15, 2006, the first day of the cease-fire following the summer fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.
He had been walking around all day, watching people return to their homes, salvage belongings, or just gawk at the destruction.
“The photo caught peoples’ attention afterward,” Platt said.
He said as a photographer working for a wire service, he normally sends 10 or 15 images at a time and does not usually have the time to focus on individual shots.
“I thought I screwed up on this one,” he said. “My photo editor asked if I had something wider, but I only had one frame because someone stepped in front of me.”
Platt said he got a call from the Netherlands Thursday informing of his win but was sworn to secrecy pending official announcement today.
Platt will receive his award and a cash prize of 10,000 euros ($12,990) at an April 22 awards ceremony in Amsterdam.
An avid cyclist, Platt said he intends to spend his winnings on a “high-end cycling kit.”
Platt is a good friend of two other award-winning photographers from Westport—Tyler Hicks of The New York Times and Lynsey Addario who shoots for the Corbis picture agency.
“Tyler was best man at my wedding,” Platt said. “The three of us used to hang out in Westport.