John Stanmeyer was walking along the beach in Djibouti City when he spotted a handful of men raising their phones to the full moon. He turned to his translator and asked what they were doing. These are Somalian refugees, his translator explained, with Somalian SIM cards, trying to catch a signal from back home. Stanmeyer was entranced by this ultra-modern example of refugee homesickness, and quickly snapped this World Press Photo of the Year:
The image was taken as part of author Paul Salopek’s epic seven-year journey from Ethiopia across the Middle East and Asia to the southern tip of Chile, called Out of Eden, in connection with National Geographic. Stanmeyer joined Salopek through the horn of Africa with his Canon 5D Mark III, which for this shot he set to ISO 10,000 with a 1.4 f-stop to capture as much of the milky light as possible.
You can listen to Stanmeyer tell the quick two-minute story behind this photo himself as part of ThinkTank Photo’s “About a Photo” series:
“This is a perfect example of modern-day migration, and the issues related to modern-day migration, with our ability and desire to reconnect with our loved ones back home… That natural desire of needing to connect is universal in all of us. It’s a photograph of hope.” – John Stanmeyer