This evening, the Newseum hosts a behind-the-scenes look at its latest exhibit: “Pictures of the Year: 75 Years of the World’s Best Photography”” during a much-anticipated “Evening with the Curator” program. While the event is open to Newseum members only (become a member today), this special “Interview with the Curator” exclusive provides answers to all your Pictures of the Year questions.
Indira Williams Babic is director of photography and visual resources here at the Newseum. Her passion for this exhibit was extremely evident. When asked what image she personally found to be the most captivating, Williams Babic exclaimed, “It’s like picking amongst your children!”
After further prompting, I learned the story of the Hurricane Andrew photo by Carol Guzy. “It is a scene of great devastation. You see the debris and where [there] used to be a house…the couple that owned the home is standing outside. They’re hugging, they’re embracing and they’re kissing. So there’s a great contrast between the devastation and destruction that is behind them and that affection that is between them, that shows that there is hope amidst the destruction…right behind them there is a very beautiful rainbow…” Babic explained. Want to see this photo in person? Purchase your ticket now!
The selection process for choosing which images from the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) archive would be included in this exhibit was extremely rigorous. “We started with 40,000 images from every single one of the images that won in any of the categories that the contest had from the very beginning” Williams Babic stated (fun fact — the POYi archive dates back to 1943). “I winnowed those down to about 2,000” she continued. Due to the significant amount of attention to detail necessary in doing so, this thorough review process took the Newseum’s visual resources team months to complete.
Babic’s dedication to ensuring that the Newseum maintained the integrity of all photos featured in the exhibit was apparent: “It’s not just about the quality of the image, its photographic merit, but it’s also about the news event that it covers. And you can’t know that unless you’re reading the captions and finding out the background of the image,” she shared.
The museum’s exhibits team could only choose a total of 100 photos for the photography show and also encountered an additional challenge — reconciling the fact that the gallery must be representative of seven decades of award-winning images. “Because it’s a retrospective we have to keep in mind that we cannot judge all the photographs from the lens of today. We have to make sure we have a representation of the entire lens and scope of the contest,” Babic asserted.