During the last decades, the presence of visual media has increased dramatically. However, very little empirical research has been carried out to determine the implication of the medium photograph as a visual information transmitter. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the characteristics of professional press photos that relate to war and armed conflicts and to examine the framing of victimhood. A thorough literature review as well as an iconographic interpretation of World Press Photos serves to ascertain data in order to permit answering the research questions. The World Press Photo Foundation is the subject of research as it represents the most prestigious international competition for press photography at present and thus acts as an agenda-setter. That highlights the implication of its decisions about professional photographs since its coverage of certain issues biases the international media coverage of the same. It also affects the development of professional photojournalism. In this context the meaning of photographs in today's visual media societies can be discussed.