AN Australian freelance photographer’s haunting, moonlit image of a baby being passed by migrants underneath a razor-wire fence on the Hungary-Serbia border won the prestigious World Press Photo award for 2015, organisers announced today.
The black and white photo - which was never published - was taken by Warren Richardson on Aug. 28 near the border crossing point at Roszke in Hungary as migrants tried to get into Europe before Hungarian authorities could complete a secure fence along the length of the country’s border with Serbia.
“Had I used a flash, I would have given their position away to the Hungarian police,” said Richardson, who camped out for days on the border to document the passage of the migrants.
Needing to preserve his camera’s battery, Richardson did not see the image until he returned home to Budapest and began editing his pictures.
Jury member Vaughn Wallace, deputy photo editor for Al Jazeera America, called the image “incredibly powerful visually, but it’s also very nuanced.”
He said the photo “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.”
The contest drew 82,951 images from 5,775 photographers.
Last year’s competition was overshadowed by the disqualification of a winner who admitted that one of a series of pictures about the Belgian city of Charleroi was actually taken in Brussels and by controversy surrounding the pictures of the gritty, post-industrial Charleroi.
Lars Boering, managing director of the World Press Photo Foundation, said the contest set up a new code of ethics for this year’s contest to ensure the integrity of images and praised photographers for largely sticking to it, saying there were more checks and “fewer problems” than last year.
“We see that the photographers are as committed as we are to providing accurate and fair images on the world’s most important events and issues,” he said.
Several winners in the news categories focused on the migrant crisis and one of its root causes, the devastating civil war in Syria.
But the contest’s wide range of categories also provided an eclectic mix of other subjects ranging from wrestlers in Senegal to amateur ice hockey players in Russia, and from people diving with whales to orangutans climbing trees.
Associated Press photographer Daniel Ochoa de Olza won second place in the People Stories category with a series of portraits of young Spanish girls sitting in a decorated altar as part of the historic Las Mayas festival in the town of Volmenar Viejo. He also took third place in the same category with photos of victims of attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris. The photos showed raindrops covering portraits left at a street memorial in honor of some of the of the victims of the attacks.