Spanish photojournalist César Dezfuli was named the winner of the 2017 Taylor Wessing prize, for his photographic portrait of Amadou Sumaila, at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery in London on November 14. The twenty-six-year-old photographer will receive a prize of nearly $20,000.
Sumaila, a sixteen-year-old migrant originally from Mali, was one of hundreds of people who were found twenty-three miles from the shores of Libya and rescued from the sea in 2016. Dezfuli photographed him while on board an NGO vessel documenting migrants escaping war-torn countries. “I think Amadou’s portrait stands out because of the emotions it transmits,” Dezfuli said. “He had just been rescued by a European vessel, apparently fulfilling his dream. However, his look and his attitude show fear, mistrust and uncertainty, as well as determination and strength.”
The $4,000 second-place award was presented to Abbie Trayler-Smith for her photo of an Iraqi girl arriving at a refugee camp after she fled from Isis. Maija Tammi came in third place for her unconventional portrait of a robot named Erica that was created at the Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories in Osaka.