When Agence France Presse photographerAris Messinis put down his camera on a beach in Lesvos to pull a refugee toddlerout of the water and carry him on his shoulder, the photographer’s instinct to capture the news was outstripped by that of coming to the aid of the stricken child.
The internationally-acclaimed photographer has been on assignment in Lesvos covering the arrival of thousands of refugees fleeing the Middle East and his camera has captured some of the most iconic images of the refugee crisis in Greece.
“When you’re at a war, there are dangers for you, too, so somehow you’re on a more equal footing with the people you’re covering. But here, there are no dangers for you. That’s why there are many times when I drop my camera and I help people. Because you need to… My worst moment of this story so far was the last big shipwreck, when I went to the port and they brought the first babies that had drowned and they were trying to bring them back to life. I cannot even think about those scenes anymore…It’s just something that you can’t accept”, he narrates.
Aris Messinis has been chief photographer for AFP in Greece since 2006. He worked in Libya and Egypt during the “Arab Spring” and has won many prestigious awards such as Days Japan 2012, Fotoweek 2011, NPPA etc. In 2012, he was awarded the Photography Prize at Bayeux-Calvados Awards for War Correspondents, considered the “Oscars” of photojournalism, for his work on the Battle of Sirte, Libya, on October 2011.