Laying on sidewalk, manhole

German photographer Michael Wolf received an honorable mention in this year's World Press Photo Contest for a series of images captured on Google Street View.

The "A Series of Unfortunate Events" project was awarded honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category, but some critics are questioning whether Wolf's uses of Google's visual records are worthy of the label of photojournalism.

In an interview with the British Journal of Photography, Wolf describes his creative process.

"I use a tripod and mount the camera, photographing a virtual reality that I see on the screen. It's a real file that I have, I'm not taking a screenshot. I move the camera forward and backward in order to make an exact crop, and that's what makes it my picture. It doesn't belong to Google, because I'm interpreting Google; I'm appropriating Google. If you look at the history of art, there's a long history of appropriation."

This image received an honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category of the World Press Photo Contest. The organization says its mission is to "encourage high professional standards in photojournalism and to promote a free and unrestricted exchange of information."
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Photo by: Michael Wolf, Germany, Laif Photos & Reportagen / Caption by:

Squatting by a car

Wolf suspected that his decision to enter these images into the World Press Photo Contest might be controversial.

"It's time; you have to accept this," he says. "Our world is full of images. It's part of the future of our imagery. We have to deal with this--curate them or incorporate them into our work. I think it's a very courageous decision by the World Press, because of course their decisions create a lot of attention for certain topics."

The incorporation of any new technology is bound to raise the ire of traditionalists. "I think it's incredible because the most important thing is to push the limits; get a discussion going", Wolf told the British Journal of Photography.

Jaron, who left a comment on the BJP site, thinks the images are unique but don't qualify as journalism. "I find this very interesting, but I'm not sure I would call it photojournalism. The images certainly capture some interesting moments, but there is a certain level of disconnection. I'd consider this a newer form of found photography. Very clever, but not quite journalism."

This image received an honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category of the World Press Photo Contest.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf, Germany, Laif Photos & Reportagen / Caption by:

Bike crash

A man lies on his side after crashing his bike, in this image Michael Wolf created with visual input from Google Street View.

This image received an honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category of the World Press Photo Contest.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf, Germany, Laif Photos & Reportagen / Caption by:

A van burns

Wolf told the British Journal of Photography, "I think a large part of our future will be the curating of all these images. Can you imagine the number of images stored in our world today? It's unlimited. In 100 years, there will be professions such as 'hard-drive miners', whose mission will be finding hard-drives in electronic junkyards and developing software to sort these images. And then there will be art projects and sociological projects created using images mined from electronic storages. The whole idea of curating this incredible mass of images that has been created has tremendous potential, and I've just scratched the surface with my Google Street View project."

This image received an honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category of the World Press Photo Contest.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf, Germany, Laif Photos & Reportagen / Caption by:

Struggling woman

In his interview with the British Journal of Photography, Wolf adds: "The leap of faith one has to make always depends on the jury. The jury is the god. It varies from year to year. Some years, they tend to be very conservative in their approach. Some years, they are very progressive. I feel this year it's a jury that's very, very progressive. It just shows that people are willing to give this piece of work a mention."

Formal recognition and awards aside, Wolf's work seems to be more closely associated with other forms of artistic photography, rather than narrative photojournalism.

The fact is, that because of his detachment from the moment, even Wolf himself doesn't know the story behind the images he has captured, an element of journalism one might argue is critical to the profession.

It seems to more truthfully echo street photography, relating to the nature of sneaky, stolen photographs taken during fleeting, passing moments of others' lives.

This image received an honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category of the World Press Photo Contest.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf, Germany, Laif Photos & Reportagen, WPP / Caption by:

Man with a gun

A man carries a gun across a street in Google Street View in this image captured by photographer Michael Wolf.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Dog and shadows

A dog is seen flanked by two shadows in Google Street View in this image captured by photographer Michael Wolf.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Three kids fighting

Three kids fight on a sidewalk in this photograph Michael Wolf captured while strolling through Google Street View.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Pigeon in flight

A Pigeon in flight captured by Google Street View's cameras, and again by Michael Wolf's camera.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Shadow figure

A shadowy figure in an alley is seen in Google Street view, with lines from the refresh rate of the monitor when photographed by Wolf, who sets up his camera on a tripod, and photographs the computer screen to create his images.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Three boys

Three boys, with faces hidden, greet the passing Google Street View car in Michael Wolf's photograph.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Bike accident in Street View

A bike accident captured by Google Street View is captured by photographer Michael Wolf.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Windows in Manhattan

Image No. 32 from photographer Michael Wolf's Street View Manhattan series.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

No. 44

A man leans in toward an open car door in image No. 44 from photographer Michael Wolf's Street View Manhattan series.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

No. 7

Image No. 7 from photographer Michael Wolf's Street View Manhattan series.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

No. 1

Image No. 1 from photographer Michael Wolf's Street View Manhattan series, showing a woman's foot in a high heeled shoe, along with the pointer of the computer mouse.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:

Image No. 19

Image No. 19 from photographer Michael Wolf's Street View Manhattan series: the shadows of trees along a New York street.

Michael Wolf currently has a gallery exhibit on display in San Francisco, at the Koch Gallery, running through April 2, 2011.
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Photo by: Michael Wolf / Caption by:
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