'Crying Girl on the Border’ photographer calls for focus on human element in news photography



Sharjah, 20 September 2019: Putting the human element in context to a situation is critical to effective news photography, renowned photographer John Moore strongly asserted during a talk he led at the International Photography Festival XPOSURE 2019, the region’s biggest photography event, which unveiled on Thursday at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Moore, who is a special correspondent for Getty Images, is the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year this year for his iconic image ‘Crying Girl on the Border’. The photograph caught global attention, contributing significantly to the galvanisation of American public opinion against the US government’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Describing his close encounters with death in conflict zones, Moore stated that experience matters much for news photographers working in life-threatening situations. “As a photojournalist, every experience helps prepare oneself for the next assignment,” he said. Moore has worked in 65 countries on 6 continents and was posted internationally for 17 years.

Moore was just 20 metres away from the blast triggered by a human bomb that killed Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. He said he managed to move away within a short span of about 10 seconds, sensing danger when he looked at the eyes of the driver of the vehicle carrying the former prime minister.

Moving from Pakistan to the US in 2008, Moore got the opportunity to work on domestic stories of international relevance. He said getting access to story situations is one of the biggest challenges faced by a photojournalist.

“Working with people with local knowledge, such as a local journalist, is extremely important to gain access to critical news situations,” Moore said.

Narrating his experiences of capturing the desperation of people in mass migration to the US border, Moore said it is crucial to show the difficulties people experience in human terms. Speaking on his iconic image of the ‘Crying Girl on the Border’, Moore described how doctored versions of his photograph went viral on social media, leading to questions about the credibility of the photograph.

“With most people viewing pictures on mobile phones, it has become difficult to ensure the authenticity of photographs. Photojournalists cannot control what happens on social media. It is therefore important to send pictures to news media telling the whole story behind the pictures,” he said.

Organised by Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), the four-day International Photography Festival runs from September 19 to 22 with the participation of 53 of the world’s most celebrated photographers and leading international brands.


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