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World Press Photo exhibit makes US debut in Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- Powerful images of conflict, hope and daily life that earned top honors in an international news photography competition can be seen in an exhibit making its first U.S. stop in Philadelphia.

The World Press Photo exhibition will be on view at Drexel University's Leonard Pearlstein Gallery from Wednesday through May 21.

The show includes nearly 150 images taken last year, from scenes of destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to a reflective portrait of a woman seeking to pay final respects to Nelson Mandela. Other categories include sports, nature and contemporary issues.

The prestigious annual contest held by Amsterdam-based World Press Photo drew nearly 100,000 entries from 132 countries. The display of winning pictures will travel to 100 venues worldwide and be seen by about 2 million people over the course of a year, organizers said.

The first-place winner for contemporary issues was also named photo of the year. The nighttime, moonlit image depicts Africans in Djibouti holding up their illuminated cellphones in search of a signal. American photographer John Stanmeyer of the VII photo agency took it for National Geographic.

“It's a picture everyone can connect to,” said Anne Schaepman, the exhibit's project manager.

Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki, whose photo of the chaos immediately following the Boston Marathon bombing took second place for spot news, plans to travel to Philadelphia for the opening reception Wednesday evening.

While honored to be among the winners, Tlumacki said it was “bittersweet” to be recognized for an image representing such a horrific moment in Boston's history. But time has given him some perspective, he said.

“Looking back a year now, I feel proud of what I did as a photojournalist to be able to convey the terrorism that went on that day,” said Tlumacki.

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Josh Harris hangs Taslima Akhter's World Press Photo prize-winning image titled “Final Embrace” at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Monday, April 28. (AP)

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