2018—Yannis Behrakis

Photo of Yannis Behrakis
Photojournalist and Senior Editor with Reuters

Yannis Behrakis is a Pulitzer-winning photojournalist and Senior Editor with Reuters based in Athens, Greece. He has described his work as covering “mostly wars, riots, demonstrations, politics, catastrophes and sometimes sports.” During his career with Reuters since 1987, he has covered significant global events, such as the civil conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo; the wars in Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Afghanistan and Lebanon; the first and second Gulf wars; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the "Arab Spring" in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya; the war in Ukraine and the Turkish-Syrian border conflict in Kobani.

Behrakis has repeatedly risked his life to capture images that are riveting, disturbing and crucial to our understanding of the world’s hardest truths. In 2000, reporting in the jungles of Sierra Leone, he barely escaped when rebels riddled his car with bullets in an ambush that claimed the lives of two other journalists, one of them a close friend. In the years that followed, he continued to bear witness to the best and worst of human behavior, documenting the Second Intifida, the war in Afghanistan and the American invasion of Iraq.

Yannis Behrakis and his images shatter stereotypes, subvert ideology, undermine hatred and ignorance. They urge us to confront the world as it truly is, in all its joy and sorrow. Remarkably, Behrakis has emerged from those decades of blood and unthinkable loss not just with his life, but with transcendent clarity and an open spirit. Though he has lost the luxury of naivete, he has held onto his sense of hope and his commitment to the essential work of serving as a witness to history and as a voice for those who have been silenced.

Already one of journalism’s most lauded figures, Behrakis won a Pulitzer in 2016 when he and his colleagues at Reuters were honored for their coverage of the migrant and refugee crisis. In 2015, he was named photojournalist of the year by The Guardian and by Reuters. The Newseum in Washington, DC recently chose one of his Pulitzer photos for its permanent gallery celebrating the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize. Behrakis has been named Greek News Photographer of the Year by the Greek National Fuji Awards seven times and the European photojournalist of the year by Fuji three times. He has received the John Faber award from the Overseas Press Club of America in New York, an award for excellence from the National Press Photographers Association, as well as the Botsis Foundation Award, the most prestigious prize in Greek journalism. In addition, he has received the Prix de Bayeux Award twice, as well as the Robert Capa award, the highest honor reserved for war correspondents.