February 14, 2014


Photo by John Stanmeyer / VII for National Geographic

African migrants on the shore of Djibouti city at night, raising their phones in an attempt to capture an inexpensive signal from neighboring Somalia - a tenuous link to relatives abroad. Djibouti is a common stop-off point for migrants in transit from such countries as Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, seeking a better life in Europe and the Middle East.
VII Photo is absolutely honored to announce that John Stanmeyer, a founding member of the agency, has been awarded the World Press Photo of the Year 2013. The winning photo, announced in Amsterdam today, depicts African migrants on the shore of Djibouti city at night, raising their phones in an attempt to capture an inexpensive signal from neighboring Somalia.

The image — chosen from among more than 98,000 photos by an international jury of 19 professionals — was also awarded first prize in the category Contemporary Issues in this year's contest. It was shot for National Geographic in February 2013 and published in December 2013 as part of the feature story "Out of Eden." Click here to read more on National Geographic's website.

"This image represents me, you, all of us, trying to reconnect back home to our loved amidst this perpetual movement of global migration we are facing. In this case, it's connected to poverty and migrants' need for opportunity and hope," said Stanmeyer.

Two other VII photographers — Marcus Bleasdale and Maciek Nabrdalik — were also awarded World Press Photo prizes in this year's contest. Marcus won 3rd Prize, Stories, Contemporary Issues for his whaling series 'Last of the Vikings.' Maciek won 2nd Prize, Singles, Contemporary Issues for a single image titled 'Nicolette at the Orphanage.' Their winning images can be seen below.

"John is one of the most passionate and detail-oriented photographers that I know," said Nick Papadopoulos, VII's interim CEO. "His commitment to stories, to important issues that need to be told, is absolutely unparalleled and is one of the leading traits of the VII photographers. I am personally honored to be working with such inspiring and passionate photographers, who have collectively won hundreds of top awards, and continue to lead the pack."


Jillian Edelstein, jury member from the UK/South Africa said: "It's a photo that is connected to so many other stories—it opens up discussions about technology, globalization, migration, poverty, desperation, alienation, humanity. It's a very sophisticated, powerfully nuanced image. It is so subtly done, so poetic, yet instilled with meaning, conveying issues of great gravity and concern in the world today."

Susan Linfield, jury member from the USA said: "What we're looking for in the winning image is the same quality you would look for in a great film or in literature—the impression that it exists on more than one level, that it makes you think about things you haven't thought about. You begin to explore the layers not only of what's there, but of what isn't there. So many pictures of migrants show them as bedraggled and pathetic…but this photo is not so much romantic, as dignified."

David Guttenfelder, jury member from the USA said: "The photo is like a message in a bottle, it is one that will last for all of us. People will bring their own life experiences to it as they stand in front of it."

Click image below to view.


John Stanmeyer, born in Illinois, is a founder member of the VII photo agency.

Over the last decade, Stanmeyer has worked nearly exclusively with National Geographic, producing more than 12 stories for the magazine. Between 1998 and 2008, John was a contract photographer for Time magazine, during which time he photographed the war in Afghanistan, the fight for independence in East Timor, the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, and other significant world news events. His years with Time resulted in 18 covers of the magazine.

Stanmeyer has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the prestigious Robert Capa award (Overseas Press Club), Magazine Photographer of the Year (POYi), and numerous World Press, Picture of the Year and NPPA awards. In 2008, his National Geographic cover story on global malaria received a National Magazine Award, and in 2012 he was nominated for an Emmy with the VII documentary film series, 'Starved for Attention'.

Stanmeyer lives with this wife, Anastasia Stanmeyer (editor of Berkshire Magazine), and their three children on a farm in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.



3rd Prize, Stories, Contemporary Issues

2nd Prize, Singles, Contemporary Issues

Photo by Marcus Bleasdale / VII

Photo by Maciek Nabrdalik / VII
To see a complete list of winners, visit the World Press Photo website »


VII Photo Agency is the world's preeminent agency representing contemporary photojournalists. Created in 2001 by seven leading photojournalists, VII today represents 20 award-winning visual storytellers.

VII exists to support its photographers in producing visual content of journalistic integrity that informs the world about significant social, political and cultural issues, and encourages positive change in societies. The diversity of the founding photographers, and the addition of new photographers, has brought to the agency a broad range of photographic perspectives through still photography and, in recent years, though short multimedia pieces and feature-length films. Recognized by American Photo as one of the top three "100 Most Important People in Photography", the agency has worked with top tier publications since its inception including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Stern, The Sunday Times Magazine, GEO Germany, Paris Match, among many others. For the work documenting the changing nature of our world, the photographers have received hundreds of awards including numerous World Press Photo awards, and the Robert Capa Gold Medal.

VII has also been recognized by various film institutions including the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Emmy Awards), POYi (multimedia and documentary category), World Press Photo (multimedia), and has had a strong presence at various film festivals. Clients include PBS, MTV, HBO, and Showtime.

VII's cultural position has been cemented by many exhibitions in leading museums, including the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art (New York) and the Louvre (Paris), and headline appearances at major festivals including Les Rencontres D'Arles, PhotoEspaña and Visa pour l'image. VII has over 70 books produced by its photographers and has been the subject of numerous broadcast documentaries in USA, Europe, Japan and elsewhere.

VII has partnered with organizations including UNFPA, Doctors Without Borders and the Open Society Foundation on a broad scope of projects and assignments. The result has been the creation of compelling stories that ensure lasting impact through reporting, photography and film. These successful collaborations have furthered our ability to create and deliver powerful imagery to wide-ranging audiences across multiple platforms.

Current members are Lynsey Addario, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, Marcus Bleasdale, the Estate of Alexandra Boulat, Stefano De Luigi, Jessica Dimmock, Ashley Gilbertson, Ron Haviv, Ed Kashi, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, Joachim Ladefoged, Davide Monteleone, Christopher Morris, Maciek Nabrdalik, Franco Pagetti, Stephanie Sinclair, John Stanmeyer, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, Tomas van Houtryve and Donald Weber.

For more information, please visit our website at, or contact Nick Papadopoulos, interim CEO, at +33.1.4013.9561 or

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