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.’”
“This image documents a transcendental fact in the life of the person portrayed: Amadou had just been rescued from the sea by a European vessel,” says Dezfuli. “Apparently his dream is fulfilled. However, fear, mistrust and uncertainty are present, as well as determination and strength.” For his series, Passengers, photographer Cesar Dezfuli took a sequence of 118 photographs in 120 minutes as a boat load of refugees were rescued just off the coast of Libya. These people had journeyed from different countries looking for a better future in Europe.
Refugees and robots feature in the shortlisted images for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, which is organised by the National Portrait Gallery.
In 2011, Chatelin, a successful photojournalist and author of the photobook Israel Borderline (2008), was sent to Libya to cover the uprising at the beginning of the war. After a few months he became frustrated with the work he was producing and decided to head in a different direction. Switching to a large format camera, he travelled to the Egyptian desert and began looking at the impact of shifting economies on the landscape and territories surrounding the nucleus of action. This work has also seen explorations to Detroit, western China and Siberia, which, like Egypt and Libya, are places with diverse histories and contrasting geographies but which are fixed in outside perceptions with a single vision.