Analysis: Photographs will always have power to move us and inform

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EVEN in this day when we are surrounded by moving images, the still photograph retains as strong an impact as it ever has.

In the overall winning image – Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda’s picture from Yemen – you cannot see anyone’s face yet the emotion it conveys is almost tangible. The gloved hands cradling the broken man display a tenderness and strength and the masked guardian takes on a mythical presence.

In another picture, the discarded clothes on a rock are not themselves striking. But it becomes a stark image as we realise their owners were swimming for their lives to escape mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

What happened next to the polar bear, we don’t know: he will forever be perched precariously on the rock face.

These pictures have the power to move us. Most importantly, they have the power to inform. Year round, we are confronted with images from around the world, whether it is from the battlefront, politics or entertainment. It is hard to imagine a world without them.

Our newspapers, magazines and phones and iPads are full of photographs. But whatever technology brings us next, there will always be a place for the power of the still image.

• Andrew O’Brien is picture editor of The Scotsman