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Greece’s Yannis Behrakis is ‘Guardian Photographer of the Year 2015’

Guardian photographer of the year 2015: Yannis Behrakis. © Yannis Behrakis

© Yannis Behrakis

This year The Guardian picture desk has chosen Greek photographer Yannis Behrakis of Reuters as its agency photographer of the year.

Guardian photographer of the year 2015: Yannis Behrakis. © Yannis Behrakis

© Yannis Behrakis

Mr Behrakis documented astonishing moments in two of the biggest stories of 2015 — the refugee crisis and the financial implosion in his home country Greece.

“I have been covering refugees and migrants for over 25 years, but this year has been different: migrants are arriving in my homeland”, the Greek photographer told The Guardian.

“Last year, I was in Suruc on the Turkish-Syrian border documenting the thousands of Kurdish refugees fleeing the town of Kobani. This year on Lesbos, a man I met in Suruc recognised me. ‘I made it, man! I made it,’ he said.”

While covering the refugee influx, Mr Behrakis would begin work at 6:30am and finish at 11pm or midnight. He would stop to file pictures then start again.

In one shot, while photographing a raft Mr Behrakis noticed movement in the water and captured a dolphin jumping in front of the raft (photo below). “It was a truly magical moment. It was as if the dolphin was showing the way and welcoming the people.”

Guardian photographer of the year 2015: Yannis Behrakis. © Yannis Behrakis

© Yannis Behrakis

The experience is ‘devastating’

Guardian photographer of the year 2015: Yannis Behrakis. © Yannis Behrakis

© Yannis Behrakis

Mr Behrakis says that the emotional impact of covering the refugee crisis is devastating.

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“I have suffered from insomnia and nightmares, and felt guilty many times for not being able to do more. I have refugee blood myself – and I am a father.”

To see Mr Behrakis’ coverage on the refugee crisis and economic situation in Greece, press here.


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