OVIEDO, Spain – American photojournalist James Nachtwey, who has covered wars and been a witness to humanitarian disasters, was awarded the 2016 Princess of Asturias Prize for Communication and Humanities on Thursday.
Nachtwey is known for nearly four decades of work in war zones, refugee camps and cities affected by natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
His photographs, mostly in black and white, show great clarity and harshness.
The jury said in the award letter that Nachtwey “is one of the best war photographers of the last decades.”
The jury praised the professional commitment that has led to this reporter, born in New York, to cover some 30 armed conflicts and humanitarian crises “without abdicating the ethical principles of a reporter.”
His friend, colleague and member of the jury, Emilio Morenatti, noted Nachtwey’s mastery when making visible the drama of injustice and human suffering.
Morenatti said the photographer had given voice to “the voiceless” in recent times, getting into the water to illustrate the refugee crisis on the Greek island of Lesbos.
Nachtwey is a two-time winner of the World Press Photo Prize (1992 and 1994) and winner of five Robert Capa gold medals (1992, 1993, 1998, 2001 and 2008), among other awards.
The 68-year-old Nachtwey’s first job abroad was in 1981, when he covered the conflict in Northern Ireland, focusing on the hunger strike by IRA members.
Since then, Nachtwey has covered almost all contemporary wars, conflicts and social crises.
He has worked in Lebanon, Bosnia, Romania, Chechnya, Kosovo, the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.