World Press Photo Of The Year Goes To First Known Capture Of Thoughts And Prayers


The thoughts and prayers materialized briefly before disappearing, leaving the room unchanged, if a little damper.

“Just a lucky coincidence,” says Berndnaut Smilde, a Dutch visual artist who, like many western politicians, specializes in creating temporary displays for the sake of an image.

“I was using my smoke machine in a room in New York that I thought looked like a good place for a cloud, and I had the radio on. It was the day after the school shooting in Florida and the news was full of politicians offering their thoughts and prayers to those affected by the situation, but nothing more. As they spoke, my cloud became increasingly denser. I’d never managed to get vapour to form so quickly. It was then I realized I waist fact capturing a small piece of all those thoughts and prayers, as they briefly materialized before passing back into the ambient humidity.”

Experts say that while the photo is an extraordinary one, it’s surprising that the ubiquitous T’s and P’s haven’t been photographed sooner.

“Currently the world generates approximately 1.2 trillion cubic meters of TAPs per year,” says Michael Angelo, lead researcher at Hallmark’s Global Centre For Platitudes, using the widely accepted acronym for the equally widely discredited form of public statement. 

“They really are all around us, disappearing into thin air like so many missed opportunities to take concerted action to improve the world around us. So really, it’s a wonder there aren’t thousands of photos out there of TAPs briefly obscuring the faces of a certain type of leader our society seems to have lately raised up quite the crop of. Ones who value their political hides more than the actual hides of their constituents.”

For his efforts, Berndnaut Smilde will receive widespread acclaim and global publication of his work. The prize doesn’t come without a downside though, as past winners have been subjected to intense jealousy from others in the photography industry, as well as criticisms of their work; and in some cases have found it difficult to return to form after reaching their industry’s pinnacle. 

“But I am motivated.” says Smilde, firing up his fogger. “If only because the last thing I want is anyone offering me their thoughts and prayers. 

Photo: Berndnaut Smilde

2 replies »

  1. Once again, I take exception with using a specific tragedy as a basis for humor. The same was done with Las Vegas. If you generalized the topic of t&p being exhausted at every tragic incident, then we’re good. To cite a specific incident and use it as a basis for humor is repugnant and callous, in my opinion.


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