Moonlit African migrants image wins top photo award

'It's just people trying to call loved ones. It could be you, it could be me'

AMSTERDAM - A moonlit image of migrants trying to get mobile phone signals on a Djibouti beach on Friday won the World Press Photo of the Year award for US photographer John Stanmeyer.
A 19-member jury awarded the prestigious prize for the haunting photograph of African migrants holding phones up to the sky to capture a signal so they can call home, as they make their way to a hoped-for better life in Europe.
The awards were announced at a press conference in Amsterdam, where World Press Photo is based.
"It's a photo that is connected to so many other stories -- it opens up discussions about technology, globalisation, migration, poverty, desperation, alienation, humanity," said jury member Jillian Edelstein.
Fellow jury member Susan Linfield said: "So many pictures of migrants show them as bedraggled and pathetic... but this photo is not so much romantic, as dignified."
Stanmeyer said that he felt "honoured" by the prize.
"This photo is poetic, it connects to all of us," he said by telephone.
"It's just people trying to call loved ones. It could be you, it could be me, it could be any one of us."
The US-based VII agency photographer, who took his prize-winning shot for National Geographic, focuses on "social injustices, eradication of global poverty, human rights," according to his website
The World Press Photo jury of photography professionals, presided over by VII Agency founder photographer Gary Knight, spent the last two weeks judging photos in Amsterdam.
AFP photographers won two prizes, including the coveted 1st Prize Spot News Single for Philippe Lopez's painterly image of typhoon Haiyan survivors carrying religious icons in a procession in the Philippines.
The photograph, with a devastated landscape as its backdrop, had already been chosen by Time magazine as one of the top 10 images of 2013.
Asia specialist Lopez joined AFP's Phnom Penh bureau in 2000 and is currently a staff photographer at the agency's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong.
"This photograph sums up the faith of a people who continue to move forward despite the scale of the disaster," Lopez said. "I am delighted that the jury chose this image of hope."
AFP's Lyon-based photographer Jeff Pachoud's elegant shot of a dog-sledding race through pristine snow, taken from a helicopter, won 1st Prize Sports Feature Singles.
"I remember this special moment when everything was just perfect for capturing this surrealist setting," Pachoud said.
Almost 100,000 images were submitted by 5,754 photographers from 132 countries and judged anonymously, organisers said.
Top winner Stanmeyer will be awarded a cash prize of 10,000 euros (14,000 dollars) and a camera during a ceremony in Amsterdam in April.