African Migrants Looking for Cell Signal by Moonlight Wins World Press Photo 2013


Last year’s World Press Photo of the Year award went to a controversial image of a funeral procession in Gaza, City. This year’s winning photo doesn’t strike the same tragic nerve as last year’s, and yet it makes such a powerful statement about technology and our global community that we immediately understood why it took home the top prize.

The dramatic image, captured by VII photo agency founder and National Geographic photographer John Stanmeyer, shows African migrant holding their phones aloft, looking for an inexpensive Somalian cell signal by moonlight on the shores of Djibouti.

Djibouti is a common stopping point for migrants from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea on their way to Europe and the Middle East in search of a better life. That cell signal is, as described by World Press Photo, “a tenuous link to relatives abroad.”

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“It’s a photo that is connected to so many other stories — it opens up discussions about technology, globalization, migration, poverty, desperation, alienation, humanity.” said World Press Photo jury member Jillian Edelstein in an announcement. “It’s a very sophisticated, powerfully nuanced image. It is so subtly done, so poetic, yet instilled with meaning, conveying issues of great gravity and concern in the world today.”

Stanmeyer’s image took home top prize or “photo of the year,” but he wasn’t the only photographer recognized by World Press Photo. To browse through a gallery of the first, second and third prize winners in every category — including sports, daily life, portraits and nature — check out World Press Photo’s impressive awards gallery by clicking here.

(via PDNPulse)

Image credits: Photography by John Stanmeyer

  • Adam Cross

    such a beautiful image, love it

  • Erik Lauri Kulo


  • Mike

    The idiocy and sheep mentality in this photo are astonishing.

  • Sam

    And the trolls are out.

  • Vlad Dusil

    What part of “migrants […] in search of a better life” trying to connect with their relatives do you not get? This isn’t teens looking for LTE to update their Flappy Birds.

    If you pulled your head out of your butt you’d realize that it’s quite the telling image and worthy of the recognition.

  • Jeffrey Howarth

    I think you misunderstand.

  • BrokenHelix79

    You would bring such cynicism and bias and joylessness to capturing the human spirit that you would be an absolutely terrible photojournalist, or photographer in general. It’s not for you to judge the quality or merit of these lives.

    Personally, I find the photo incredibly evocative of our times, and it’s deserving of the award.

  • Óran Desmond

    Amazing image, defiantly deserved the prize.

  • harumph


  • Thekaph

    It works! I mean, the first think I felt when watching this pictures if: how did they come there? What happened? Why are they waiting for the night to seek for cell signal? And if it doesnt work, what their parents are going to think? Did they suceed? Did they fail? Are they still alive?

    One simple picture and so many question, emotions…

    Really, I love this picture.

  • Tobias W.

    That is what photography is about. Not those countless rants about wedding photography.

  • superduckz

    Either you’re serious or you are a blatant troll. Either way.. shame on you.

  • Eugene Chok

    i think he means the people waving around their phones like idiots not the appreciation for the shot… but i am also speculating

  • Vince de la Pena

    It looked like the immigrants were just taking selfies to celebrate their arrival in a new land in the cover of darkness. LOL

  • Stan B.

    I think you you mistake “idiocy” for desperation.

    Those who knowingly attempt to ridicule people when they’re down are idiots.

  • harumph

    You clearly don’t understand what’s happening in this photo if you really think that they are “idiots waving around their phones.”

  • yopyop

    That would be the “first-world problem” version of this photograph : crank up the ISO !! :-)

  • Eugene Chok

    err i think you miss understand what was happening in this thread if you think i was saying they are idiots… since i was responding to comments above me….