By Donald R. Winslow
© 2008 News Photographer magazine
NEW YORK, NY – Tonight senior staff photojournalist John B. Moore of Getty Images is being presented with the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal award from the Overseas Press Club of America at the organization's sixty-ninth annual awards dinner in Manhattan.
The Capa award is given by the OPC in recognition of the "best published photographic reporting from abroad, requiring exceptional courage and enterprise." It honors the legacy of the great war photographer Robert Capa of Magnum Photos.
"In a year when I have been fortunate enough to win numerous honors, this Capa award is the highlight," Moore told News Photographer magazine today from Manhattan.
His photographs from Iraq and Afghanistan, and his exclusive coverage of the assassination of Pakistan's former prime minister Benazir Bhutto as she was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi, have frequently put Moore – a 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winner while with the Associated Press – in photojournalism's spotlight this year.
"When you look at the list of photojournalists who have received the Capa award in the past, I feel humbled and truly honored to be part of that group," he said today while touring New York "doing tourist things" with his parents and family.
"I have spent much of the last six years covering the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which makes this award even more meaningful. Historically, it is very rare for the United States to be fighting in two wars simultaneously, so I feel it is important to keep covering these wars," Moore said.
"I should like to welcome John Moore into the circle of those inspired by Robert Capa, whose work seems to take on fresh significance every day," John G. Morris said today from Paris.
Morris was Robert Capa's picture editor on D-Day on June 6, 1944 for Life magazine, and later Morris was the executive director of Magnum Photos where he worked with his friend Capa.
"Only last Friday at the International Center of Photography in New York I was privileged to see the negatives of Capa, Chim, and Gerda Taro of the Spanish Civil War, which recently surfaced in Mexico and now form part of ICP’s great archive," Morris said. "The following day I lunched with Bob’s 'kid brother,' Cornell Capa, who has just celebrated his 90th birthday — sadly in silence for he is unable to speak.
"Were Bob alive today, I am sure he would only share my disappointment that photojournalism has not brought peace to the world. But that is no reason not to continue to try."
Moore has been covering the Middle East and the war from his base in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he lives with his wife Gretchen Peters – who works for ABC News as a producer and correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan – and their daughters Isabella, 2, and Sophia, 8 months.
"The heritage of the Robert Capa Gold Medal is without peer in our industry, and we here at Getty Images are profoundly proud of John being bestowed with such an honor," Getty's director of photography/news Pancho Bernasconi said today.
"John's coverage of the assassination was proof positive of his caliber as a photojournalist. His coverage of Bhutto, and his wider portfolio, is very much representative of the kind of work we try and enable our entire staff of news photographers to go out and capture," Bernasconi said.
"He was in the right place at the right time and not only survived a situation like that, but documented it for all to see. He shows the strength of character and conviction to continue to document the unfolding carnage and drama that ensued after the initial shots and bomb blast."
In March, Moore was picked as the National Press Photographers Association's 2008 Best Of Photojournalism Photojournalist of the Year (Larger Markets) for a stunning portfolio that included a picture story and single images from the Bhutto assassination and a heartbreaking single image of widow Mary McHugh stretched prone on the ground on the grave of her slain fiance, Sgt. James Regan, at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Moore's photographs of the Bhutto assassination also won first place in Spot News this year in World Press Photo, as well as first place in the News Picture Story category in the University of Missouri School of Journalism's Pictures of the Year International contest. At the end of the POYi judging, Moore was named the contest's Magazine Photographer of the Year. His photograph of McHugh at Arlington National Cemetery also won an award of excellent in the POYi competition.
It's been a season of recognition for Moore and his news photography. He was awarded the Society of Professional Journalists' top photography award for Spot News for his Bhutto assassination coverage, and first place in the War & Disaster Singles and in the News Stories categories in the 4th China International Press Photo contest, and second place in that same contest in the Daily Life Singles category for his Arlington National Cemetery photograph. Moore also won second place recognition for his Bhutto photographs in the 2008 Days Japan International Photojournalism competition.
The photographer started his career in photojournalism as a high school student in Irving, TX. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in Radio-Television-Film and while in school he had internships at The Idaho Statesman, The Pittsburgh Press, the Sacramento Bee, and The Albuquerque Tribune.
After college he was offered a job in Nicaragua working for the Associated Press, and he later covered India, South Africa, Mexico, and Egypt for AP during his 14 years with the news service. He left AP in 2005 to join Getty Images and has been based in Islamabad covering the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.
Moore believes in giving back to the people and places that helped him in his career. The weekend before coming to New York to receive the Capa award, Moore worked with high school students in Texas at the journalism institute where he got his start as a youth, and then spent Monday speaking to University of Texas at Austin radio-television-film students and photojournalism students at UT's School of Communications.
In 2005 he was a member of the AP photography team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for their coverage of the war in Iraq. During 2004 he traveled to Iraq five times from his AP base in Cairo to cover the fighting.
A writer as well as a photographer, Moore authors a Blog on the Getty Images Web site and his first-person account of covering – and surviving – the Bhutto assassination is online here.
Tonight the OPC will also present the Olivier Rebbot Award for best photographic reporting from abroad in magazines and books to Cedric Gerbehaye of Agence Vu, shooting for Newsweek, for "Congo in Limbo"; the John Faber Award for best photographic reporting abroad in newspapers and wire services to Paula Bronstein of Getty Images for "Death in Karachi"; and the Feature Photography Award for the best feature published in any medium on an international theme to Brent Stirton of Getty Images, shooting for Newsweek, for "Slaughter in the Jungle."
The Robert Capa Gold Medal award was won last year by Paolo Pellegrin of Magnum Photos for his coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
In 2006 the Capa award was won by Chris Hondros of Getty Images for his images, "One Night in Tal Afar," which documented U.S. soldiers shooting and killing members of an Iraqi family when they unwittingly drove their car toward troops who were on patrol.
In 2005 it was won by Ashley Gilbertson for his coverage of "The Battle For Fallujah." Gilbertson was shooting for Aurora and The New York Times.
Carolyn Cole of the Los Angeles Times won the Capa award back to back in 2003 and 2004, first for her coverage of the siege at the Church of the Nativity, and then again the next year for her essay "Covering Conflict: Iraq and Liberia."
Other past winners of the Capa Award include Luc Delahaye, Chris Anderson, John Stanmeyer, James Nachtwey, Horst Faas, Tim Page, Corrine Dufka, Anthony Suau, Eddie Adams, Dirck Halstead, David Burnett, and W. Eugene Smith.
Nachtwey has won the Capa Award an unprecedented five times (in 1998, 1994, 1986, 1984, and 1983).
The first Capa award winner was Howard Sochurek of Magnum Photos on assignment for Life magazine, in 1955.