Getty Images photographer John Moore has won the prestigious World Press Photo Contest for 2019 for his photo titled “Crying Girl on the Border.” The photo was selected from among 78,801 submitted by 4,738 photographers.
Captured on June 12th, 2018, the photo shows 2-year-old Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez crying as she and her mother, Sandra Sanchez, are taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas.
Here’s the description of the photo, which was 1st place in the Spot News category, by World Press Photo:
Immigrant families had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were then detained by US authorities. Sandra Sanchez said that she and her daughter had been traveling for a month through Central America and Mexico before reaching the US to seek asylum. The Trump Administration had announced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the border under which immigrants caught entering the US could be criminally prosecuted. As a result, many apprehended parents were separated from their children, often sent to different detention facilities. After this picture was published worldwide, US Customs and Border Protection confirmed that Yanela and her mother had not been among the thousands who had been separated by US officials. Nevertheless, public outcry over the controversial practice resulted in President Donald Trump reversing the policy on 20 June.
This photo quickly went viral and was widely published as a photo illustrating the government’s family separation policies.
“Most of us here had heard the news that the administration had planned to separate families,” Moore told NPR in an interview published less than a week after the photo was captured. “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.”
But when it came to light that the toddler in Moore’s photo was never separated from her mother, many photographers believed that Moore had overstepped his role as a photojournalist. In a poll conducted by PetaPixel, over 1,300 readers were almost perfectly split:
“Oftentimes, immigration is talked about in terms of statistics, and when you put a human face and humanize an issue, you make people feel,” Moore told CBS News after the revelation emerged. “And when you make people feel, they have compassion. And if I’ve done just a little bit of that, then that’s OK.”
With this latest win, Moore is now the recipient of four World Press Photo awards, having also won prizes in 2005, 2008, and 2012.
Here are the other winning photos from the other 6 major Singles categories:
Contemporary Issues: “The Cubanitas” by Diana Markosian
Environment: “Akashinga – the Brave Ones” by Brent Stirton
General News: “The Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi” by Chris McGrath
Nature: “Harvesting Frogs’ Legs” by Bence Máté
Portraits: “Dakar Fashion” by Finbarr O’Reilly
Sports: “Boxing in Katanga” by John T. Pedersen
You can find a full gallery of this year’s winning photos over on the World Press Photo website.