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Pictures of Europe’s refugee crisis scoop photo award

24 January 20170 comments

A London-based photographer is taking on the anti-immigration media landscape with a series of compelling images showing the plight of refugees in Europe.

Daniel Castro Garcia’s images won him the British Journal of Photography’s International Photography Award (IPA) with his work to be exhibited at London’s TJ Boulting Gallery in March.

Castro Garcia began photographing the European refugee crisis in 2015, spending weeks getting to know his subjects and following the refugee trails from Lampedusa in Italy through Sicily and on to Calais, and from Lesbos in Greece.

“I really have a strong belief that it’s a collaboration,” Mr Castro Garcia said.

“Without engaging with the individuals and conveying what you’re trying to do with them, it’s worthless,” he said.

In collaboration with childhood friend and graphic designer Thomas Saxby, Castro Garcia then self-published a book of the images called Foreigner: Migration into Europe 2015-2016, working on tight six-week deadline in order to launch it before the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote in 2016.

This was because the duo, under their collective pseudonym John Radcliffe Studio, said that Foreigner offered an alternative look at the refugee crisis in Europe.

“It is a response to the imagery used in the media to discuss the issue of migration, which we felt was sensationalist, alarmist and was not giving people the time and consideration they deserved,” the duo said.

The March exhibition at the TJ Boulting Gallery in London will be Mr Castro Garcia’s first major photography exhibition.

The exhibition will tackle what Castro Garcia describes as “compassion fatigue” and the way people interact with news stories.

“It’s really important for a show like this to have zero gimmicks,” Mr Castro Garcia said,

“…this subject needs sobriety. It can’t always be about emotions, the same way it can’t be about facts and figures,” he said.

“I think it’s about trying to present the work in a way that when people walk into the room you can go up to any photograph and engage with it and really look that person in the eye and consider: ‘What is the differences between this individual and the viewer? Are they different?’”, Mr Castro Garcia said.

IPA judging panellist and director of the TJ Boulting Gallery Hannah Watson said the Foreigner series stood out amongst the other candidates.

“The whole project… reaches out beyond the realms of photography to a very timely issue that we felt should be highlighted,” Ms Watson said.

Mr Castro Garcia said he plans to get back out into the field soon and produce more work, firstly to the port town of Catania where he will work in an unaccompanied minors’ centre.

“I just want to keep moving with it now, I’ve got a thirst for it,” he said.

See the photographs here.