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Shot On The Wall: Iconic Image From US-Mexico Border Wins ‘Photo Of The Year’

Distressing image of toddler’s mother being detained by US customs officials wins top photography prize.

“Crying Girl on the Border,” John Moore’s harrowing photograph, wins top billing at prestigious World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam // image source worldpressphoto.org

Photojournalist John Moore has received the distinguished prize of World Press Photo of the Year for his powerful image of a toddler and her mother being detained by US customs officials.

Titled “Crying Girl on the Border,” the image depicts 2-year-old Yanela Sanchez shrieking as her mother, Sandra Sanchez, is taken into custody by US border officials in McAllen, Texas. Refugees from Honduras, the two soon came to embody the plight of all immigrants striving to enter the United States when Moore captured their detainment on June 12th, 2018.

In an interview with TIME, Moore recounts the experience as being “tough for me. As soon as it was over, they were put into a van. I had to stop and take deep breaths. All I wanted to do was pick her up. But I couldn’t.”


Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, Moore won a prize of EUR 10,000 at the annual awards festival in Amsterdam this month. After being stationed abroad for over 15 years, Moore returned to the United States in 2008 and has focused his photojournalism on immigration and border issues. Moore’s efforts to humanise the experiences of refugees through his photography were collected in “Undocumented: Immigration and the Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border,” a photography book published last year.

See Moore in interview here, explaining the story behind his award winning photograph // image source New Straights Times

According to World Press Photo themselves, their award recognises “the best single exposure pictures contributing to the past year of visual journalism.” They can be single images that tell their story in just one frame, like Moore’s winning photograph, or they can be a part of a larger series. Ultimately, judges are attracted to photography which offers “accurate, fair, and visually compelling insights about our world.”

Smelling blood: Moore’s image was used in TIME’s iconic July 2nd 2018 cover, featuring a predatory Donald Trump // photography by Getty Images, courtesy of TIME.com


An alternative image of the “Crying Girl” with her face looking upwards, taken by Moore on that same June evening, was used by TIME magazine in a now-iconic cover image. Photoshopped against a threatening blood-red background, the cover features US President Donald Trump looming over her. At the time of the image being taken, it was still enshrined in US law that children were to be separated from parents apprehended while illegally entering the United States.

Yet public outcry surrounding Moore’s image was so vehement as to persuade President Trump to reverse the policy on June 20th, and it was this intense focus on American immigration policy that led to TIME running the image on their covers the following month.

But if you want some more upbeat news surrounding the Mexico-US border crisis, then check out our piece on Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters thinking about performing “The Wall” on Trump’s own wall.

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