Grand Press Photo Awards Gala

I have to admit that it was one of the most exciting evenings for me in 2021.

Although as an announcer I have often hosted award ceremonies, this one was particularly important for me. For over 15 years I have subscribed to Press– the most authoritative magazine in the world of Polish and international media. Press Awards for the best photojournalists are a highly valued recognition. 

What was my task as the event host?

I had to conduct an online gala which was broadcast to several hundred thousand viewers (including guests of the website). Not to forget the handful of jurors and special guests who were invited to the studio.


What did we do to make the online event successful?

While preparing for this project, I paid attention to going beyond the scenario provided by the organizer. During numerous conversations about this online event, I proposed:

  • Bridging the distance between all participants and the nominees. We asked all the nominees to agree to use the “you” form instead of the more formal “mr”. I believe that in times of forced isolation it is worth removing barriers. The idea seemed all the more good because a very large part of the participants are 30 to 40 year old
  • Introduction of a competition for viewers, so as to really re-engage them. In the comments section of the live video broadcast on Facebook, they could give opinions about the photo that evoked the most emotions in them.
    According to the Editorial Board, the most liked statements were awarded an annual subscription to the magazine Press. I also suggested that someone from the Editorial Board constantly respond to comments and even initiate and animate further discussion.
  • Entering into constant interaction with the participants. Instead of a traditional clipboard (pad) with notes, I had a tablet in my hands. The screen of my iPad was divided into two parts – in one I had a preview of the script, in the other I observed what was happening on Facebook. I read many comments aloud, along with the name of the commenter. At times when I didn’t talk to the camera, such as when the best photos were broadcast, I also replied to some of the comments. I worked to give people the experience that they were on stage with us and participating in the event on an equal footing.


How did I prepare for the event?

When I was working on my version of the event script, I tried to find additional information about the nominees. Thanks to this, I learned, for example, that Mateusz Skwarczek from “Wysokie Obcasy” had previously won the Grand Press Photo award – 5 and 10 years ago. During our short online conversation, I used this as a cool connecting tip.
Analyzing Martyna Niećko’s photo, on the website of her university I found a curios thing: she used only an ordinary lamp to obtain dramatic lighting of her subject. There was an interesting conversation about the photographer’s process.

In the archival issues of Press I also found information about previous editions of the competition. I picked up a few interesting things from years ago, and I also decided to honorably mention the name of Mr. Roman Czejarek, the current, long-time host. I also listened to several recordings in French to refresh my knowledge of the language for a conversation with Romain Laurendeau, chairman of the jury.  


What the organizers have to say

Andrzej Zygmuntowicz
Andrzej ZygmuntowiczArtist photographer, member of the jury of the Grand Press Photo competition
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I was one of the few people who watched the gala on the spot, at Relax cinema. Most of the participants joined us online. I don't think reconciling these two worlds is easy, yet the gala host did just that by interacting online via the chat window. It wasn't another boring and static award ceremony. As a representative of the younger generation, Mr. Maciej introduced an element of openness to the audience, instead of speaking from the pulpit.
Place of the event
Relax Cinema, Warsaw
Event client
Magazyn Press
Event date
Award Ceremonies, Gala, Virtual Events
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