Images that tell powerful stories about homelessness, immigration and gun laws captured the top INN Impact Prizes for Nonprofit News Photos honoring photographers for their work in 2017. Winners were selected by a panel of three professional news photographers and photo editors based on the editorial and visual impact of the photos.
First Place: Gema Galiana, Economic Hardship Reporting Project
JANELLE BIXLER-MAUCH, 56
She died on a bench in front of a Lake Forest laundromat; this photo shows the markings where the outside bench presumably stood before it was removed. Her cause of death was a blood clot. In an online tribute, a friend, Julie Glasser wrote that Bixler-Mauch worked as a property manager for 20 years, had children and grandchildren, and possessed a feisty, lively nature as well as a love for her Catholic faith, her Chihuahua and many interests, including crafts and tattoos. Glasser lamented her friend’s loss but said, “If I remove all the selfish thoughts I can say that I am happy that God had a better plan for you…You won’t suffer another day.”
This winning image was part of series "What the Final Moments of Homeless People Can Teach Us" conceived and reported by writer Amy DePaul. Galiana made the photo under a grant from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and the series was co-published with Capital & Main and the OC Weekly.
Contest judges praised the “subtle image of humanity not doing well.”
“This single image brings attention to the realities of the homeless, the gritty and filthy reality. This is not an easy image to look at and that’s the whole point,” wrote judge Blake Sell.
“Of all the images submitted to the contest, this is the one that takes the boldest risk by trying to depict heavily photographed issues such as homelessness differently, and it pays off,” said judge Annabelle Marcovici. “ It speaks to how photographers can show the grit and the sadness and the environment of homelessness without turning homeless people into props.”
“No frustrations yelled, no fists in the air looking for justice, no multitudes of folks advocating. In these days of bold colors, over the top action images, folks showing off for the cameras at gatherings … death is still quiet,” said judge Sharon Farmer. “This is not the usual photo of death.”
Second Place: Kathryn Gamble, The Trace
Iowa State Representative Ras Smith appears for a portrait in his work suit, and in the hoodie he wore on the House floor to protest a proposal to expand "Stand Your Ground," a gun law proposal authorizing residents to use lethal means to protect themselves when confronting a perceived threat.
"It’s got style and has a clear aesthetic vision," said judge Annabelle Marcovici.
"When done well, photojournalism's job is to bring issues to focus and to evoke, and this image does both beautifully," wrote judge Blake Sell.
Third Place: Bonnie Arbittier, Rivard Report
San Antonio, Texas — Juana Arellano and Casandra de Leon hold one another while listening to speakers protest the Trump administration's decision to end DACA. They were among more than 150 people who listened outside the John H. Wood Federal Courthouse in September 2017 following the Trump administration’s announcement it would end DACA, a program that granted two-year, renewable work permits to more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and protected them from deportation
Judge Blake Sell wrote, "The crowed on the right provides context that these two people are part of a protest of some kind, but the eye remains on the emotions of these two people who seem to be in their own light in the photo visually. This is a strong photo that personalizes a big issue."
"Tenderness, I don't see enough pictures of this," said judge Sharon Farmer. Pictures of immigration speak to the fear people have. Fear is easily seen here, and love, as one touches the other in the fearful times that would send immigrants out of the U.S."
Honorable Mention: James Whitlow Delano, Pulitzer Center
Payatas, Philippines — Remy Fernandez, 84, holds two of the seven grandchildren she is raising because her son, Constantino de Juan, a methamphetamine user, was killed and the mother is in prison due to a drug arrest. The baby, RJ was born in prison. Constantino de Juan, upon seeing the masked assassins, knew he was about to be killed and instructed CJ — five years old and wearing the red tank top — to take care of his siblings.
Honorable Mention: Bonnie Arbittier, Rivard Report
San Antonio, Texas — Jamar McCracken dresses his horse as a pegasus for the PRIDE Bigger Than Texas Parade in July 2017.
Honorable Mention: Joseph Rodriguez, Economic Hardship Reporting Project
Puerto Rico October 2017 — Jose Alexis Carrasquillo, 62 years old, went to a shelter after Hurricane Maria, but it was too crowded and didn’t have water. Here he sits in his destroyed house. He is a contractor and was expanding his house just before the hurricane. He said, “I can rebuild, I just need electricity. The power infrastructure was badly damaged and will take months to get it repaired." He had not seen FEMA or the mayor, only local volunteers giving food and water. "We feel abandoned.” It would cost him $35,000 to rebuild and $80,000-90,000 to hire a contractor.
Honorable Mention: Christopher Tyree, Orb Media
Dagupan, Philippinesn — A young boy climbs over plastic debris in a 50-year-old dump overlooking the ocean in this seaside town. Most of the biodegradable items have long since rotted, leaving a mountain of multicolored plastics that float out to sea on the coastal winds.
Honorable Mention: Paul Ingram, Tucson Sentinel
Nogales, Arizona — A teenage boy runs from the border wall that separates the U.S. and Mexico in just after illegally climbing over the wall with a ladder from the sister city of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico