Silver / 2016 / Press / Political

Human Tide

  • Prize
    Silver in Press/Political
  • Photographer
    Michael S. Honegger

The island of Lesvos, Greece is normally an idyllic escape from the turmoil of the world with stunning scenery, romantic hillside castles and a dreamy languor. During the spring of 2015, however, this tranquil oasis was confronted with a dramatic increase in the arrival of a human tide of refugees crossing the short distance of roughly ten kilometers between Turkey and Lesvos. During the first half of 2015, over 100,000 refugees fleeing the wars and societal turmoil in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have landed on the shores of Lesvos in small rubber rafts holding 40-50 men, women and children. This series is an attempt to capture the initial triumph of reaching European shores by individuals who have faced astounding hardship. Their initial emotions are captured in these images as they first set foot in a land that is not threatened by guns, grenades and chaos.

I have spent most of my career working around the globe in international development projects. During that time, I was inspired to photograph the world that many in the United States fail to see. I am fascinated by the masks that hide the individual whether psychological, social or by the face with which they were born.