Born in Athens in 1960, Yannis Behrakis was inspired to take up photography after chancing across a Time-Life photobook as a young man. Going on to study photography in Athens and at Middlesex University in the UK, he starting work for Reuters in 1987, and by 1989 had been sent on his first foreign assignment – Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, where he quickly made his name.
“He quickly displayed a knack for being in the right place at the right time,” reports Reuters’ site The Wider Image. “When Gaddafi visited a hotel where journalists had been cooped up for several days, a scrum of reporters crowded around the Libyan leader to get pictures and soundbites.
‘I somehow managed to sneak next to him and get some wide-angle shots,’ Behrakis wrote. ‘The next day my picture was all over the front pages of papers around the world.’”
Born in Parma, Italy, in 1976, Marco Gualazzini began his career as a photographer in 2004, at the age of 28, for his towns local paper La Gazzetta di Parma. Since then he has covered topics such as microfinance in India, freedom of expression in Myanmar, and the discriminations of Christians in Pakistan, which have published in The New York Times, Al-jazeera, The Sunday Times, among many others.
Over the last few years he has been working extensively in Africa, documenting the desertification of what was once one of Africa’s largest lakes, and a lifeline to 40 million people on the continent. Gualazzini’s work has been double nominated for both World Press Photo of the Year and World Press Story of the Year.
“I meet people with more empathy and more care towards one another in war situations or in conflict around the world than I have ever experienced in Europe. People want to share the little they have with me because I have talked to them and shown an interest in them,” says Jan Grarup. His work has taken him to the sites of the worst conflicts – from obvious examples such as Iraq and Iran, to forgotten areas like the Central African Republic. Each place he visits, he stays to learn about the culture and customs of the people before taking their photographs. In these places of despair and destruction, Grarup often finds hope and resilience. But the Western world needs to be more active and share the responsibility to help these regions return to a peaceful existence.