Warren Richardson’s powerful refugee crisis photo awarded World Press Photo of the Year 2015


posted Monday, February 29, 2016 at 8:05 PM EDT


If you're a fan of photography, chances are that you pay close attention to the photos when you crack open a newspaper or pull up your favorite mainstream news website. So do we, but we also like to pay attention to a variety of press photography contests around the world for iconic shots we might have missed at the time.

Today, we note that one of the best-known such contests -- the World Press Photo Foundation's "World Press Photo of the Year" contest -- recently announced its award-winning press photo for 2015. Shot by Australian photographer Warren Richardson, the image documents the heartbreak of Europe's ongoing refugee crisis.

Richardson captured the moonlit image of a baby being passed through a barbed-wire fence after five days spent camping with refugees at the border between Serbia and Hungary. As a group of refugees made their move to try and jump from one country to the other in search of succor and a measure of peace, Richardson followed along for five grueling hours spent evading police who were trying to catch the group.

World Press Photo of the Year
A man passes a baby through the fence at the Serbia/Hungary border in Röszke, Hungary, 28 August 2015.
© Warren Richardson, Australia, 2015, Hope for a New Life

His patience paid off with a shot that powerfully demonstrates the difficult situation faced by the refugees. Commenting on the award, Agence France-Press photo director and chair of the general jury for the awards, Francis Kohn, noted:

"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."

You can see and hear more about the judges' decisions on selection of Richardson's photo in a video on the World Press Photo's Facebook page.

Contemporary Issues, 1st prize singles
A city in northern China shrouded in haze, Tianjin, China, 10 December 2015.
© Zhang Lei, China, 2015, Tianjin Daily, Haze in China

Selection as Photo of the Year in the World Press Photo awards is no small achievement: Richardson's photo was selected from a whopping 82.951 images submitted by photographers in 128 countries around the globe. As well as his winning shot, the jury also selected 41 prize-winners in eight categories: Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, General News, Long-Term Projects, Nature, People, Sports and Spot News. You can see the winning photos in each category on the World Press Photo site.

Nature, 2nd prize stories – photo 2
A Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighter holds two ivory tusks. Ivory is a means of financing the LRA and is used for both food and weapon supplies. Near, Sudan, 17 November 2014.
© Brent Stirton, South Africa, 2015, Getty Images for National Geographic
Nature, 3rd prize singles
Colima Volcano in Mexico shows a powerful night explosion with lightning, ballistic projectiles and incandescent rockfalls; image taken in the Comala municipality in Colima, Mexico, 13 December 2015.
© Sergio Tapiro, Mexico, 2015, The Power of Nature
Daily Life, 1st prize singles
Chinese men pull a tricycle in a neighborhood next to a coal-fired power plant in Shanxi, China, on 26 November 2015.
© Kevin Frayer, Canada, 2015, Getty Images, China's Coal Addiction
People, 1st prize singles
A child is covered with a raincoat while she waits in line to register at a refugee camp in Preševo, Serbia, 07 October 2015.
© Matic Zorman, Slovenia, 2015, Waiting to Register



As the grand-prize winner, Richardson will take home a 10,000 euro cash prize, as well as a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera and lens kit. Other winners will receive their Golden Eye award, a diploma, and an expenses-paid trip to Amsterdam next month, where they'll take part in an awards ceremony amongside fellow winners and industry colleagues. They'll also have the opportunity to take part in presentations, panel discussions and more over the two-day event.

For more info on the awards and this year's winners, visit the World Press Photo website.