UG student’s photo in the final of Grand Press Photo Contest

Michał Kowalski, freshman student of History of Art at the University of Gdańsk was announced a finalist of the XVI edition of Polish Press Photo Contest – Grand Press Photo 2020, organized by ‘Press’ journal and Grand Press Foundation. The photograph he submitted qualified as individual photo in ‘Environment’ category. It is a last call to vote for your favorite work. Winners will be announced on 13 May, during the online broadcast.

Grand Press Photo is the most important Polish contest for professional press photographers. The submitted works are evaluated by the world class specialists. Every year the World Press Photo winner is the Chairman of the Jury and other members being recognized Polish and foreign photojournalists and photo editors. 5723 photos were submitted this year, 266 works from 61 photographers were selected for the final round of the contest.

Photos could be submitted individually or in a form of photo story, as in previous years. Individual photos group was divided into following categories: News, Everyday life, People, Sport, Environment, Culture and entertainment. A special category was designated for photographers conducting longer projects: Documentary project. The main prize is awarded for the Photo of the Year, its author receives PLN 10.000. Meanwhile, photo with the largest number of votes receives Internet Audience Award.

Michał Kowalski took the contest photo in Byszewo, close to Bydgoszcz. It is a copy of Our Lady of Krajna painting. The painting is held by a raft. The platform is set at the bottom with anchors. The original painting, most probably comes from the XIII century and is one of the oldest Holy Mother’s paintings in Poland, is displayed in the nearby sanctuary. It is also famous for its many miracles and graces.

The painting appeared on water to commemorate 50th anniversary of pronouncing Mary the Most Holy Mother of the Church by the Pope, Paul VI. A story of a local church also served as an inspiration to display the painting. Legend has it that the church had slipped on the hillside straight to the lake and the only thing saved from disaster was the Holy Mother painting. From then on, the lake has been called Holy.

-The story of the painting inspired me to document this place. The photo is a part of the larger project I am currently working on, regarding sacred art and its representations in Poland. I go deep into the matter because I believe that this form of representation shapes the identity of our nation. I show physical objects in correlation with their locations. I present our values and traditions that we as a nation cherish. Couple of hours before the application deadline I got persuaded by my colleague to send my works – explains the contest finalist Michał Kowalski.

The photography was qualified as individual one in ‘Environment’ category. You may find it under the link.

The work was selected as finalist by the jury, whose Chairman this year is a Swedish photojournalist Pieter Ten Hoopen, the winner of World Press Photo Story of the Year 2019. Since 2004 he has been documenting military conflicts and humanitarian crises, including Afghanistan and Iraq; he temporarily lived in Kabul and Nairobi. He is a four-time World Press Photo winner (2008,2010, twice in 2019) and three-time Swedish Photographer of the Year contest winner. He published three photography books: ‘Stockholm’, Tokyo 7’ and ‘Hungry Horse’. His movie ‘Hungry Horse’ about the small Montana town and its inhabitants was nominated for an Emmy in 2015. Hoopen teaches photojournalism and storytelling at, among others, the Aarhus Journalism School in Denmark . He is a first photographer in history to win World Press Photo – Story of the Year award, he did so in 2019. He is a member of VU Agency in Paris and cofounder of Civilian Act company in Stockholm.


This year’s jury also includes:


Beata Łyżwa-Sokół – since 2006 photo editor of ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’, since November 2016 she is a head of photo departments of ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ and ‘Gazeta’ Agency;

Maksymilian Rigamonti – photographer, Press Club Poland and ZPAF member, two time Grand Press Photo winner (2012 and 2019), since 2020 Fujifilm Poland brand ambassador;

Maarten Schilt – owner of the Schilt Publishing & Gallery, long lasting editorial partner of World Press Photo and FotoFest in Houston, Member of the International Advsisory Board at the Executive Director of Santa Fe Center for Photography;

Radu Sigheti – photojournalist, Award of Excellence Picture of the Year 1991 recipient, Reuter’s editor in charge of the international photo office;

Andrzej Zygmuntowicz – photographer, member of the Association of Polish Art Photographers, since 2005 he is the Chairman of the ZPAF Art Cuncil.


-Taking part in this competition was sort of a challenge for me. I used to marvel at the outstanding photos selected by the jury of Grand Press Photo. This year I am honored to be among them – adds the author of the photo

Apart from photography Michał Kowalski is interested in the art of painting. Michał is a full-time History of Art student at the Faculty of History of the University of Gdańsk, which he claims also serves as his inspiration. He is passionate about the art of cinematography, which allows him to tell a story with the moving objects.

Tab NOMINEES includes nominated works, which may be voted on by the viewers, for the first time in contest’s history – the author of the winning photo will receive Internet Audience Award, being the partner.

Internet users may cast their votes through the panel available on website.

The winners of the Grand Press Photo 2020 will be announced on 13 May during the online broadcast.

You can find Michał Kowalski works on the following website and on Instagram @michal.kowals


Monika Rogo, Spokesperson’s Office of the University of Gdańsk

The University of Gdańsk Spokesperson’s Office