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Interviews

Capturing <br class="br_visual" />a decisive moment

Capturing
a decisive moment

© Yannis Kolesidis/EPA

March 2017

Photojournalist Yannis Kolesidis is the winner of this year’s Editor’s Choice Contest. The 44-year-old Greek photographer recalls to CPN Editor David Corfield the story behind his award-winning image and how he feels to have won such a closely fought competition...

Yannis Kolesidis is one of many photographers to have documented the ongoing refugee crisis in his native Greece. But it’s perhaps this award-winning image that he took just over a year ago – and which features in a recently-published book called ‘The Itinerary – Tracing Refugee Routes’ – that best captures the desperation and the determination of refugees to survive one of the biggest humanitarian issues of the modern age.

Yannis recalls the story behind his iconic image, shot with an EOS 5D Mark III and an EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. “It was taken in March 2016. I was at a refugee camp at Idomeni, on the border of Greece and [Former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia covering the crisis and I stayed there for five days. I remember every day I spent many hours in the refugee camp covering the distribution of food and the daily life of the refugees. On this particular day I remember there were loud screams and so I followed the sound and saw a van arrive with volunteers, and they were throwing food into the air including eggs, bread and various parcels. The refugees were so many in number [the camp at its peak totalled over 8,000 displaced people - including hundreds of children - mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq] that they completely swamped the van. There were many photographers and it was frustrating to cover because many people tried to get the food and so pushed us photographers out of the way. It was a crazy situation. This lasted about 20-30 minutes and I took a lot of pictures but this one stood out.”

© Yannis Kolesidis/EPA
© Yannis Kolesidis/EPA

Another image from Yannis Kolesidis’ coverage of the refugee crisis in Northern Greece. Migrants cross a river on an alternative route, attempting to pass the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) near Idomeni, Northern Greece, 14 March, 2016.

He continues: “I tried to compose an image that showed many arms outstretched in the air, as for me that was the defining shot to show the crisis, but I didn’t expect to capture the egg like that. I was lucky to get it in such a perfect position! And I don't know what happened to the egg, either. I think it was caught but many were broken in the madness.”

“I am really happy to win this competition and I didn’t know I had won until Jon Jones called with the great news. It is really an honour for me, because my work has been judged by the experts and of course by Canon. So for both of these things, I am very grateful.”

Biography: Yannis Kolesidis

Yannis Kolesidis

Yannis Kolesidis was born in Athens, Greece, in 1973. He graduated from the School of Study and Practice of Photography (EMEF) in Athens and has been working as a photojournalist since 1994. From 2004 until 2013 he worked for Reuters and covered many events including the Athens Olympics and Paralympic Games. Since 2014 he has been working as a freelancer for the European Press Agency (EPA) as well as the VICE digital media and broadcasting company. His photographs have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world such as The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, Time magazine, Stern and Paris Match. He has won several notable awards in important contests such as World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International (POYi) and Prix de la Photografie, Paris.