2019 in Review
Through a Different Lens
Global Press Journal photographers reflect on their favorite photos of the year by sharing the behind the scenes stories of when and how they captured each image.
Published December 31, 2019
Aliya Bashir, GPJ India
“I stopped my car in the middle of a lonely road in Haryana to capture this photograph of a young man with a herd of buffaloes. The animals had blocked the road, making it challenging to take the shot, and the boy was quickly trying to clear them from the road. I was so focused on taking the photo that I did not hear the horns of cars attempting to make their way through the scene. I was scared as I found myself caught in the middle with nowhere to go. As I finished taking the photographs, the buffaloes’ master started walking with the animals. It was an exciting scene to witness while on the road.”
Gamuchirai Masiyiwa, GPJ Zimbabwe
“I was on my way to interview a source for a story when I saw a group of gardeners playing cards. My instincts told me that I had a chance to get a great photo capturing their emotions and laughter. The idea of approaching the gardeners was intimidating, but I gathered the courage. After explaining to them who I was and what I intended to do with the photos, some of the gardeners walked away; they assumed I was from a local tabloid known for publishing malicious photos. I managed to convince the other gardeners to agree to have their photos taken. What I love about this photo is that it shows how these gardeners spend their lunch breaks and the joy they have while playing cards. Through taking this photo, I learned that photographers must be prepared to stand their ground and convince their sources that photography helps people see the world differently.”
Adriana Alcázar González, GPJ Mexico
“While reporting, I had an exciting close encounter with bees. The organization Amo y Rescato Abejas provided me with beekeeping gear to protect me from the stings of the bees as I photographed the hives. The gear protected me from stings, but also made it challenging to operate the camera. I could not focus the lens through the netting that covered my face. The thick beekeeper gloves inhibited my ability to take the shot. What’s more, I had to remain calm to keep the bees from sensing my nervousness and landing on me. In the end, I developed an excellent relationship with the bees and began to love them.”
Mar García, GPJ Mexico
“I received a call telling me that my request to interview Dafne McPherson at the prison where she was incarcerated had been granted. I traveled three hours to be at the prison by 9 p.m. The date of my visit happened to fall on Día de los Santos Inocentes, a holiday in which people traditionally play tricks on each other. The date, combined with the quick response to my request, did not inspire confidence. But my excitement at being able to interview my source outweighed my suspicion, and the meeting happened as planned.
Days later, we learned that McPherson would be released. At the press conference where she spoke after her release, another photographer, from a well-known Mexican media outlet, was also there. He took McPherson by the arm and began asking her to pose for his camera, a situation that seemed inappropriate to me. I decided to wait until he was done.
While I was waiting, a girl came running in, clutching a stuffed bear and shouting, “Mamá!” The man began to take photographs of McPherson and her daughter. The situation immediately set off alarms for me. The child was a minor. I approached McPherson amid the other photographer’s shots and asked her if she was all right with her daughter’s face being published. I saw her grimace and she immediately said, “No, I don’t want her face to get out.” The other photographer began walking towards the exit, ignoring McPherson’s request. McPherson’s parents joined their daughter and granddaughter. Between their hugs, I asked if I could take a portrait of them. I waited for the right time to take the photo to guarantee that the girl’s face would not be pictured, honoring the mother’s request.”
Linda Mujuru, GPJ Zimbabwe
“This little girl was happy to be photographed as she played with her dolls, pots and pans. It gave me a sense of joy and fulfillment to be capturing such a moment of happiness from behind the camera. Finding a happy moment and people willing to be photographed was not an easy assignment. I approached this family after spending nearly 30 minutes driving around Hopley Farm, a community that lacks water, electricity and refuse collection, among other services. This is not the kind of moment captured by most photographers. The photo shows that, despite the lack of facilities in the area, there are happy moments to be celebrated. Photographing this scene made me realize that I am responsible for showing the world through an alternative lens.”
Marissa Revilla, GPJ Mexico
“Gaining intimate access to people’s lives requires mutual respect and relationships built on trust. This photo means a lot to me because the family allowed me into their lives and their struggles. The photograph captures them honoring, remembering and seeking justice for Maricarmen Escobar López, a young student, a daughter and a sister who was found dead at a nearby ranch in 2016 after leaving her home to meet her friends. It means a lot to me to be able to tell these stories.”
Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal
“I took this photo while reporting for a story on reconstruction efforts following the Nepal earthquake. I walked around the neighborhood of Jenla all morning and afternoon, interviewing sources and capturing photos for my story. While out, I met the couple in this photo, Krishna Gopal Bhainatwo and Gapa Thuku Bhainatwo. They are farmers who live in a temporary shelter because the earthquake destroyed their house.
The couple allowed me to photograph them in their shelter as they cooked their meal and prepared for work in their fields. I took many photos of the couple lighting the stove fire in the shelter, but I was not satisfied. After a while, they went outside their home to rest. That is where I captured this moment. I think this photo depicts the couple with dignity. Their body language is powerful against the backdrop of fallen houses, and it is evidence of the attempts made to piece together life after a devastating earthquake. The photo shows the resilience of the Nepali people.”
Marie Michelle Felicien, GPJ Haiti
“Taking this photo was an unexpected experience for me. As I walked through Titanyen, people came up to me and asked if I wanted to buy fish. Those with me were goaded into buying the fish, but I was only interested in seeing the fishermen. I walked another 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) to meet them. When I got there, I realized that I would need to get into the water to take a photo of the fishermen at work.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a terrible fear of the sea. I hate the sea. And there I was, longing to take photos of the fishermen in the open sea. Two of the fishermen asked if I wanted them to hold my hands, and I quickly accepted their offer. It was the first time in my life walking into the water; it came up to my thighs.
But the most important thing for me on that day was getting over my fear of water through my determination to take photos of the fishermen on the open sea. I was overcome with emotion and shared the unforgettable experience with those on the shore who had chosen to buy fish instead of walking into the water with me.”
Story edited by Austin Bachand and Christina Colón, GPJ. Story copy edited by Melissa Slager, GPJ. Submissions translated by Shannon Kirby, Ndahayo Sylvestre and Sagar Ghimire, GPJ.