A photographer among the first to reveal the scale of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia has won the $25,000 Photographer the Year title at the Sony World Photography Awards.

[© John Moore / Getty Images, US, L’Iris d’Or, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards]

American photographer John Moore, a senior staff photographer at Getty Images, volunteered to document the crisis which first struck Monrovia, the capital of the West African country last year.

In a joint statement, Sony World Photography Awards judges said: ‘John Moore’s photographs of this crisis show in full the brutality of people’s daily lives torn apart by this invisible enemy.

However, it is his spirit, in the face of such horror that garners praise.

‘His images are intimate and respectful, moving us with their bravery and journalistic integrity’.

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[© John Moore / Getty Images, US, L’Iris d’Or, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards]

Ebola is reported to have killed more than 10,600 people across six countries since the first confirmed case in March 2014.

A description of Moore’s entry – titled Ebola Crisis Overwhelms Liberian Capital – states: ‘With a tradition of burial rites that include the washing of the dead bodies of loved ones, Liberians became infected at alarming rates.
‘Only a decade after a long civil war, Liberia’s fragile health system was unable to cope, international agencies were slow to react and the country struggled.’

Judges added: ‘It is a fine and difficult line between images that exploit such a situation, and those that convey the same with heart, compassion and understanding, which this photographer has achieved with unerring skill.

‘Combine this with an eye for powerful composition and cogent visual narrative, and good documentary photography becomes great.’

Meanwhile, German amateur photographer Armin Appel beat nearly 80,000 entries to win Open Photographer of the Year with an image he shot while paragliding.

schoolyard

[© Armin Appel, Germany, Winner, Open Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards]

Appel, who heard the news while on holiday in Lanzarote, said it came as a total surprise. ‘I have been taking photographs seriously since 2011 and entering competitions since 2013.

‘I look very closely at a lot of pictures taken by successful photographers and am often ashamed when I see my pictures compared to theirs.

‘I think my pictures are different, they really do not fit the general trend.’

The winning image, which earned Appel a $5,000 prize, is an aerial view showing the landscape around Biberach an der Riss.

John Moore is a past winner of the Robert Capa Gold medal.

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[© John Moore / Getty Images, US, L’Iris d’Or, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards]

Suspect

[© John Moore / Getty Images, US, L’Iris d’Or, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards]