World Press Photo Hope for a New life
The jury of the 59th annual World Press Photo Contest has selected an image by Australian photographer Warren Richardson as the World Press Photo of the Year 2015. The World Press Photo of the Year honors the photographer whose visual creativity and skills made a picture that captures or represents an event or issue of great journalistic importance in the last year. Richardson’s picture, which also won first prize in the Spot News category, shows refugees crossing the border from Serbia into Hungary, near Horgoš (Serbia) and Röszke (Hungary). Taken at night on 28 August 2015, this man and child were part of the movement of people seeking to cross into Hungary before a secure fence on the border was completed.
A man passes a baby through the fence at the Hungarian-Serbian border in Röszke, Hungary, 28 August 2015.
Warren Richardson is a freelance photojournalist currently working in Eastern Europe. Born in Australia in 1968, he is a self-taught photographer who undertakes long-term projects dealing with human and environmental issues, as well as assignments for newspapers, magazines and companies. He has lived in Asia, the USA and Europe, and during a period in the UK and US he worked in celebrity photography. While working on the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2015, he was one of a group of journalists covering the refugee crisis who were beaten by police. His next project will see him walk to the Arctic Circle, to continue his refugee stories, and then explore the effects of human-induced climate change on the world. He lives by the proverb: “We have not inherited the land from our fathers, we have borrowed it from our children.”
Richardson explained how the picture was made:
“I camped with the refugees for five days on the border. A group of about 200 people arrived, and they moved under the trees along the fence line. They sent women and children, then fathers and elderly men first. I must have been with this crew for about five hours and we played cat and mouse with the police the whole night. I was exhausted by the time I took the picture. It was around three o’clock in the morning and you can’t use a flash while the police are trying to find these people, because I would just give them away. So I had to use the moonlight alone.”
Francis Kohn, chair of the general jury, and photo director of Agence France-Presse, said:
“Early on we looked at this photo and we knew it was an important one. It had such power because of its simplicity, especially the symbolism of the barbed wire. We thought it had almost everything in there to give a strong visual of what’s happening with the refugees. I think it’s a very classical photo, and at the same time it’s timeless. It portrays a situation, but the way it’s done is classic in the greatest sense of the word.”
Other members of the jury also spoke about the winning photograph.
Huang Wen, director of new media development at Xinhua News Agency, said:
“It’s a haunting image. You see the anxiousness and the tension in such a mood which is pretty different from those in-your-face images. It’s subtle, and shows the emotion and the real feeling from the deep heart of a father just trying to hand over his baby to the world he was longing to be in. This is really something.”
Vaughn Wallace, deputy photo editor Al Jazeera America, said:
“This is an incredible image from the refugee crisis of 2015. It’s incredibly powerful visually, but it’s also very nuanced. We’ve seen thousands of images of migrants in every form of their journey, but this image really caught my eye. It causes you to stop and consider the man’s face, consider the child. You see the sharpness of the barbed wire and the hands reaching out from the darkness. This isn’t the end of a journey, but the completion of one stage of a very long future. And so, for me, this had to be the photo of the year.”
Warren Richardson Online
Warren Richardson’s online portfolio, warrenrichardson.com, includes five photo essays: Refugee Crisis Hungary, Drug Addicts, Laos: Weapons of War, Homelessness and New York City.