A Pulitzer picture first day on the job


Two Syrian rebels take sniper positions at the heavily contested neighborhood of Karmal Jabl in central Aleppo on October 18, 2012.
AFP Photo/Javier Manzano

The photograph above, taken by Javier Manzano in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo on October 18, won the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography on Monday. Here is Javier's account of the circumstances surrounding the picture, published last year in a blog post. Below, AFP Middle East and North Africa Deputy Photo Director Hassan Mroue recalls fielding the photo, among the first that Javier did for AFP.


Hasan Mroue


Javier Manzano took this masterpiece of a rebel sniper in Aleppo, Syria, along with three other stunning images we moved on AFP’s photo wire, on his first day working with the agency. Another colleague was with me when we chose them, and we both could see that this was winning material of superior artistic skill besides its news worthiness and the courage it takes to be in such a dangerous spot.

It was October 18, and we had given instructions to the desk that we should be very selective as to what we chose from freelancers in Syria. We had already used a lot of pictures that day from Fabio Bucciarelli and AFP photographers Bulent Kilic and Tauseef Mustafa in Aleppo, along with Maaret al-Noman.

When fellow editor and Tehran photographer Behrouz Mehri, helping out on the desk in Nicosia, called me at home to tell me that we had a strong photo of a sniper, I was at first reluctant. But he insisted that this one was exceptional, indeed that the whole series from Javier was impressive.

When I checked the pictures I did not hesitate for a second.

Since then, every single series of photos received from Javier covering the Syrian conflict has been of such high caliber that we felt privileged to have them on our wire. The quality of his work has been acknowledged and appreciated by every member of the team, and it has been a great pleasure for all of us to work with Javier during his mission in Syria.


A selection of photos from Syria by Javier Manzano


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AFP Photo/Javier Manzano

A Syrian woman, injured along with her mother and her infant when their vehicle was hit by shrapnel on October 18, 2012 during an airstrike on the road they were traveling on north of Aleppo, waits to be transferred to a hospital after receiving treatment at a clinic in the centre of the northern Syrian city. The woman lost her baby and was seriously injured in her right eye in the attack.



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AFP Photo/Javier Manzano

A Syrian man reacts in pain after being shot by a sniper for a second time as he waits to be rescued by members of the Al-Baraa Bin Malek Batallion, part of the Free Syria Army's Al-Fatah brigade, in the Bustan al-Basha district of the northern city of Aleppo on October 20, 2012. Due to the risk of being shot by the sniper, no one was able to rescue the man who eventually ran towards rebels, only to be shot by the sniper a second time. Rebels then pulled him and rushed him to a hospital, though it is not known if he survived. Javier's series of photos of this grim episode were features last year on Correspondent.



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AFP Photo/Javier Manzano

Kamal, the father of an eight-year-old girl who was fatally wounded along with his son Hamed (sitting at left on background), cries while being treated in a local hospital in a rebel-controlled area of Aleppo, on October 31, 2012. The family was wounded by fire from a Syrian government forces' jet at the Karm Al-Aser neighborhood of eastern Aleppo.



SYRIA-CONFLICT
AFP Photo/Javier Manzano

A member of Liwa (Brigade) Salahadin, a Kurdish military unit fighting along side rebel fighters, aims at a regime fighter in the besieged district of Karmel al-Jabl in eastern Aleppo, on December 6, 2012.



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AFP Photo/Javier Manzano

Syrian children gather around a fire outside a bakery in the Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo on December 5, 2012.



SYRIA-CONFLICT
AFP Photo/Javier Manzano

A member of Liwa (Brigade) Salahadin, a Kurdish military unit fighting along side rebel fighters, monitors the area in the besieged district of Karmel al-Jabl in eastern Aleppo, on December 6, 2012.



Javier Manzano is a photojournalist and filmmaker based in Istanbul, Turkey. Born in Mexico, Manzano left for the United States at the age of eighteen.

photo of Javier Manzano
www.pulitzer.org

To a large extent, his work has focused on the many cross-border issues that bind these two nations together - as estranged neighbors, vital partners and at times feeble associates.

His career started in the newspaper industry as a photo- and video-journalist, and later expanded into television and electronic media.

The Rocky Mountain News, Manzano's last employer, closed its doors in February of 2009. Since then, Javier has worked as a freelance photographer covering the wars in Mexico, Afghanistan and Syria.

Javier -- who found out that he won the Pulitzer via Facebook -- is currently on assignment for AFP in Syria.