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The Story Behind that Viral Photo of a Toddler Crying at the Border


One of the most viral and talked about photos this week is of a 2-year-old daughter looking up and crying at her mother at the US-Mexico border. The Honduran mother and child were being taken into custody by federal agents when they were photographed by Getty Images photographer John Moore, who shares the story behind the shot in the 7-minute CNN interview above.

“As the father myself, this photograph was especially difficult for me to take,” Moore writes in the caption of his photo on Instagram. “It is one from a series […] while I was on a ride-along with the Border Patrol in Texas’ Río Grande Valley.”

Moore was also interviewed by NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro for Weekend Edition Sunday. Here’s the 5-minute interview (you can read a transcript here):

Despite years of experience in covering touch subject matters in the field — Moore has won three awards at World Press Photo — the photographer says this particular photo still took a toll on him.

“Having covered this story for the last 10 years, I’ve seen a lot along the way,” Moore tells NPR. “But in this case, this last week, it was different because I knew that what happened after these pictures were taken was going to be something very different. Most of us here had heard the news that the administration had planned to separate families. And these people really had no idea about this news. And it was hard to take these pictures, knowing what was coming next.

“But as a father – and I have a toddler myself. It was very difficult to see what was happening in front of my lens and thinking what it would be like for my kids to be separated from me.”

Update 6/22/18: It has come to light that the crying toddler seen in Moore’s photo was never separated from her mother.