Istanbul Photo Awards winner recalls story behind harrowing photo of refugees arriving on Greek island
Russian photojournalist Sergey Ponomarev had been waiting for five months before he photographed a group refugees desperately jumping off a boat having reached the Greek island of Lesbos.
That image from November last year later won an award at the 2016 Istanbul Photo Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for depicting the worst refugee and migrant crisis facing Europe since World War II.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency in Istanbul on Wednesday, 35-year-old Ponomarev said policemen were waiting for the boat, which was being driven by the smuggler himself.
"Once the smuggler saw the police he tried to withdraw…retreat from the shore and people started to jump [into] the water," Ponomarev said.
"I captured exactly that moment when people are throwing their possessions, their clothes to the shore and trying to get out of the boat as fast as they can because they felt the boat was retreating from the island," Ponomarev added.
The Moscow native said the weather conditions were rough around the time the photo was taken and that crossing the sea with a rubber boat was very dangerous for the refugees.
"Some of the refugees decided to find a wooden boat or the smugglers found some more reliable vessels for them," he said.
Ponomarev said he witnessed how riot police at border crossings did not have the experience to deal with refugees and children.
"The policeman who had to deal with refugees were mostly [trained] to deal with soccer fans, hooligans, they were riot police," he said.
"They had no experience to deal with refugees, with women and kids and exhausted men who had to walk for hours; we, as journalists, witnessed that and tried to depict those problems," Ponomarev added.
Anadolu Agency Istanbul Photo Award winner recounts story behind hard-hitting images of refugee crisis
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Sergey Ponomarev has told Anadolu Agency the story behind his world-famous images which have captured Europe’s refugee crisis.
Speaking in Moscow, Ponomarev – who won this year’s Single News category Photo of the Year at Anadolu Agency’s Istanbul Photo Awards – recalled the moment Syrian refugees were trying to set foot on the Greek island of Lesbos.
“The weather was bad, the wind was strong and the waves were extreme. The boat approached the island where the sea was deep.
“As refugees jumped into the sea, the captain was maneuvering to find shallow water. I pressed the shutter while some refugees were in the sea while some others were preparing to jump into the sea. It was dramatic,” Ponomarev said.
Ponomarev’s images formed part of international coverage which earned a Pulitzer last month.
Over the past year, thousands of people have made short-but-perilous attempts to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey in a bid to reach Greece, before going on to northern and Western Europe.
Ponomarev said he was not thinking about if he would win an award for his image.
“I took at least a thousand images for this story. … This photo was the beginning of a story; that’s why it drew attention,” he said.
The Russian photographer said he spent two months in the area where he captured the award-winning image.
“In the beginning, we waited for three days for a single boat. Later, five boats approached the island in a day. We were travelling between shores to capture these moments,” Ponomarev said.
Exhibition consists of 30 photographs selected by jury of international professionals
Anadolu Agency opened on Tuesday the first exhibition of photographs featured at the recently-held Istanbul Photo Awards 2016.
The exhibition consists of 30 photographs selected by a jury of international professionals for the Second Istanbul Photo Awards.
Bringing together pictures that depict key events from around the world, the display will be open until May 1.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Anadolu Agency’s deputy Director General and Editor-in-Chief Metin Mutanoglu said that most photographs featured at the competition were about the ongoing war in Syria.
“As the voice of this region, Anadolu Agency makes its presence felt in the international arena with this competition,” Mutanoglu said.
He added that a photograph showing the desperation of a child in a Syrian hospital was the best way to explain to the whole world about the situation in the war-torn country.
Anadolu Agency Visual News Editor-in-Chief Ahmet Sel said the exhibition will be held in other Turkish cities as well as other countries.
Sel said the photographs in the exhibition depicted key stories affecting the world today, including the ongoing clashes in the Syrian city of Aleppo, refugees crossing the Aegean Sea, the east Ukraine conflict and sports-related events.
Among the jury members of Istanbul Photo Awards 2016 were Shanghai Center of Photography Director Liu Heung Shing, Getty Images executive Georges De Keerle, AFP Photo Business Development Director Michel Scotto as well as Guillaume Herbaut, a World Press Photo prizewinner.
An image of refugees taken by Russian photojournalist Sergey Ponomarev, which had won an award at the Istanbul Photo Awards, later also won the Pulitzer Prize this year.
Ponomarev’s image had captured the struggle of Syrian refugees for The New York Times. He won the Photo of the Year 2016 award at the Anadolu Agency-organized competition in the Single News category.
For more photographs please visit; http://istanbulphotoawards.com/Exhibitions.aspx#
Russian photojournalist, recognized first for his picture of Syrian refugees at AA-organized awards, now also wins Pulitzer
The same image of refugees that won a prize for Russian photojournalist Sergey Ponomarev at the Istanbul Photo Awards has now also won the Pulitzer Prize.
Ponomarev’s image had captured the struggle of Syrian refugees for The New York Times. He won the Photo of the Year 2016 award at the Anadolu Agency-organized competition for Single News in March this year.
The Pulitzer board announced Monday that Ponomarev had won the Pulitzer for the same photo.
Anadolu Agency Visual News Editor-in-Chief Ahmet Sel said this only showed that the Istanbul Photo Awards jury had made the right decision about the Russian photojournalist's image.
“The Istanbul awards jury shows how correctly they decided,” Sel said.
Esra Kirecci, Anadolu Agency corporate communications director, also expressed her appreciation about the Istanbul Photo Awards decision.
“Our awards have proven that it feels the pulse of international photojournalism sector,” Kirecci said.
On the cover of Istanbul Photo Awards 2015 book was Daniel Berehulak's photograph on the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.
Taken for The New York Times, the image captured the drama of the deadly outbreak and was selected as "Photo of the Year 2015" at the Istanbul Photo Awards. Later, the same picture was awarded the Pulitzer Prize too.
The Istanbul Photo Awards held in March also succeeded in drawing global attention to recent developments in the Middle East.
A jury of international professionals had selected the winning photographs of Anadolu Agency’s second Istanbul Photo Awards, which was sponsored by Turkish Airlines.
*This story was changed April 28, 2016 to correct that winning photojournalist Sergey Ponomarev is Russian, and not Syrian as previously reported.
Executive for Getty Images and jury member of Anadolu Agency's Istanbul Photo Awards says event succeeded in drawing global attention to recent developments in Middle East
The Istanbul Photo Awards have succeeded in drawing global attention to recent developments in the Middle East region, said Georges De Keerle, an executive for Getty Images.
A jury of international professionals gathered last week to select the winning photographs of Anadolu Agency’s second Istanbul Photo Awards sponsored by Turkish Airlines.
A member of the Istanbul Photo Awards jury for the past two years, De Keerle said he was pleased to be involved in the contest once again.
De Keerle said he loved "Syrian Children Cry for Help" , the Photo of the Year 2016 which was taken by Syrian photographer Abd Doumany for news agency Agence France Presse (AFP). “Because it’s so simple and authentic."
"Basically, it’s the photo of a child screaming for help. He is unaware where this crazy war takes him… Any person who sees this photo defines this photo with the same words; sadness, unawareness, reasons and questions," explained De Keerle.
Talking about the recent terror attacks in Turkey, De Keerle said Turkey and the region needed stability.
"We don’t know how this stability can be provided, but I believe that the people in this region, people in Ankara and Istanbul only want peace. They want to go to Taksim in one piece."
Taken by Syrian photographer Abd Doumany for AFP, a powerful image showing a deep well of emotion in the eyes of a wounded boy, encapsulating the horror of the last several years in Syria, was chosen Photo of the Year 2016 by the international jury of the 2nd Istanbul Photo Awards.