POY RJI | Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

Category: Portrait

First Place

Josh Estey / Freelance

Second Place

Fulvio Bugani / Freelance

Third Place

Maddie McGarvey / Freelance
“Girl Power”

Award of Excellence

Paula Bronstein / Freelance
“Ukraine's War: Lives Frozen By Conflict: The Elderly”

Award of Excellence

Dougal Brownlie / Colorado Springs Gazette

First Place: Josh Estey / Freelance

First Place


Elima, 10, stood out from among the group with highly distinct tribal scaring. Made by cutting the skin and rubbing charcoal in the wound, each body modification heals uniquely. On my first visit to Niger nearly 20-years ago tribal scaring was common and nearly every villager of a certain age defined themselves through this form tribal body modification. It has slowly fallen out of favor but in remote villages can still be found.

I have heard many reasons for doing it, to identify children if lost, to defining yourself publicly belonging to a tribe.

Elima's scars are more well defined than most making her all the more intriguing to photograph. I also loved her fish earrings, for a girl living on the edge of a desert where water is scarce.