On April 11th, the World Press Photo Foundation announced that a photograph by John Moore descriptively titled Crying Girl on the Border was the overall winner of the 2019 World Press Photo Contest. Moore’s photo was shortlisted along with five other photos by Brent Stirton, Catalina Martin-Chico, Chris McGrath, Marco Gualazzini, and Mohammed Badra. The World Press Photo Foundation awarded Moore with the honour and prize of €10,000 during the World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam last weekend.
The photo was taken by the veteran Getty photographer on June 12th, 2018 when Sandra Sanchez, a Honduran asylum seeker, and her daughter Yenela were apprehended and detained after crossing the US-Mexico border illegally. The photo, which focuses on the crying girl in a red jumper and shoes, made its way around the world and caused outcry over a controversial US policy to separate children from their migrant families. However, after the photo was disseminated, US Customs and Border Protection officials confirmed that Sandra and Yenela were not among those separated at the border. Judges of the 2019 contest said that the image represented ‘a different kind of violence that is phycological.’
Moore accompanied border patrol that night through the Rio Grande Valley documenting their movements when they came across a number of people attempting to make their way into the US. Shortly after, Moore told NPR that he ‘could see the fear on their faces, in their eyes,’ in an interview. Moore, who has been covering events along the US-Mexican border for a decade now, said ‘I wanted to tell a different story,’ after the Amsterdam reception. ‘For me it was a chance to show a view of humanity that is often only related in statistics […] I think an issue like this, immigration issues, resonates not just in the United States, but around the world,’ Moore told the AFP.
‘Ideally a World Press Photo of the Year would be surprising, unique, relevant, memorable,’ said the jury chairman and vice president of Visuals and Immersive Experiences for National Geographic Whitney C. Johnson. Johnson then invited viewers to note ‘the details in the picture: from the gloves that the border patrol officer is wearing to the fact that the shoelaces have been removed.’
The World Press Photo Foundation has recognized contributions made by professional photographers and visual journalists for 62 years, now, through the World Press Photo Contest. The award seeks to recognize the best single-exposure photo from the previous year as a stand-alone image or as part of a story. The photographers are then judged by a jury before choosing 13 winners, including the World Press Photo of the Year top prize. Each winner receives €10,000. The winning photos from the categories focused on the by World Press Photo Contest will be exhibited in Amsterdam from April 13th until July 7th, before moving onto 26 other locations over the course of 2019.