South African photographer, Justin Sullivan, has won first prize in the Top News category in the prestigious Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest.
His winning photograph, titled “Stand Off”, depicts a police officer pointing his gun at three occupants hiding under a table mere moments after a 14-year-old boy was shot in the mouth at close range.
“I believe it was a woman, a younger girl and a 14-year-old boy who were under the table. In the absolute chaos of everything, when the police opened fire at the people both under the table and myself and another photographer who was beside me were shot at with rubber bullets,” Sullivan said. “This was the moment just after that boy had been shot in the mouth at close range, so that is quite an iconic image and I hope this image can sort of create further dialogue not only for South Africa but the international sphere on how we handle these kinds of situations.”
Following this incident, which took place in September of 2017, protests over fishing quotas turned violent, leading to three days of unrest in Hout Bay.
The Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest was launched by Rossiya Segodnya, as part of the Russian Commission for Unesco. Its main goal is to support young photographers and draw attention to the challenges modern photojournalists face while on the job.
“All too often we are left out of the global sphere, especially when it comes to photojournalism and reporting, and there are some really incredible stories being told here in our country. I’m also just excited to go to Moscow to the awards ceremony.”
Sullivan also won the online poll of the Andrei Stennin Photo Contest this year, for his documentary series titled “Walking with Fire: Going Beyond”.
“The ‘Wild Fire’ images have been part of an ongoing project over the past three years and it brings me unimaginable joy to see South African firefighters from various agencies featured on an international platform,” Sullivan said.
He is well-known for his fire photography, and started his career in 2014. He is fascinated by the emotion that goes with photographing fires in the Western Cape, and has also worked with Western Cape Government to create a documentary on how fire alarms could save the lives of those living in informal settlements.
Pictures: Justin Sullivan