Accolades season has come and gone, so this seemed like a good time to look at some of the in-depth photo essays about migration that were honored this winter.

Photo District News: 30 under 30

For starters, it’s really great to see that PDN’s 30 under 30 portfolio highlighted three photographers whose work has been intimately informed by their own immigrant or refugee experience. Just how unusual this appears shows how far we have yet to come as a field to be fully representative and supportive of diverse perspectives.

Xyza Cruz Bacani

Originally known for a street photography style that portrays human isolation and alienation in Hong Kong in…


James Whitlow Delano’s panoramas from 2016 track the current U.S.-Mexico border wall through California, from the Pacific Ocean to the Sonora desert near the border with Arizona. The landscapes are part of a retrospective online collection of 30 plus years of work, including many potent visual reminders of how recent some of the changes are that have led us to associate the United States’ southern border with the idea of a “wall” or heavily fortified and guarded divide.

The border fortifications separating the United States from Mexico have been the topic of news stories and a profusion of photo essays ever since now-president Trump first began to home in on curtailing migration as one of his campaign touchstones a year ago. It remains to be seen exactly how these plans for increased border control measures will play out in reality, and in the long term, once the shockwaves of the new administration’s first weeks have subsided. …


Following the story over time: Childhood mental health on the Balkan Route. A Syrian family torn apart by resettlement. Military translators facing a difficult transition to life in the U.S. Plus, “Afghan Girl” — the saga continues.

The one year “anniversary” of Europe’s refugee summer & fall of 2015, in combination with the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September, brought its share of photo stories. Among the follow-up reports on refugee families settling into new lives, three publications stood out for attempting to profile a specific angle or issue, rather than taking a purely chronological approach.

Ankommen (Die Zeit, Aug 24, 2016)

Ashley Gilbertson’s longterm commitment to the Raslan family began when he encountered the parents and three young children halfway on a journey that originated in Homs, Syria. Throughout, in both text and imagery…


One in every 113 people who inhabit our shared world is forced to live uprooted from their homes. Internally displaced populations, asylum seekers, and refugees comprised an estimated total of 65 million people according to UNHCR’s latest report — the largest global displacement since World War II. About half of those displaced are children.

And the numbers are rising steadily. Four times as many people are displaced now than were just a decade ago. A staggering 24 people per minute are escaping war and armed conflict, ethnic cleansing and genocide, endemic violence and human rights violations. Or, another way to…

Katja Heinemann

Visual Journalist, Berlin/Brooklyn: @katjaheinemann EverydayMigration: @EDMigration &The Graying of AIDS: @GrayingofAIDS. @OSFellows 2016

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