By: Demetris Nellas – Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Yannis Behrakis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, has died. He was 58.
His death Saturday was confirmed by his employers, Reuters, where he had worked since 1987. Behrakis had long been ill with cancer.
Born in Athens in 1960, Behrakis studied photography at a private school and worked at a studio before fulfilling his lifelong dream to become a photojournalist. Since early 1989, he had been on assignments across Europe, the Mideast, Asia and Africa, often in conflict zones.
In 2000, he was ambushed in Sierra Leone, likely by rebels, and barely escaped along with Reuters’ co-worker Mark Chisholm. Their Reuters colleague Kurt Schork, Behrakis’ close friend, and AP cameraman Miguel Gil Moreno were killed.
Behrakis led a team of Reuters photographers to the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, covering the refugee crisis.
One of his photos from that assignment, a Syrian carrying his young daughter in his arms during a storm and kissing her, was one of his favorites. He used it as a background on his Twitter account.
His colleagues were generous in praising his work, but also his willingness to share advice with the competition.
“Yannis was the best photojournalist of his generation … the sole reason I became (one),” said Istanbul-based AP photographer Lefteris Pitarakis, who noted that Behrakis “cared deeply about the people he had the privilege to photograph in their most extreme situations.”
“I was lucky to have him as my teacher and mentor,” Pitarakis added.
Thanassis Stavrakis, an Athens-based AP photographer, said that “we all looked up to him and were grateful for the time he took to help colleagues with edits and advice.
“He influenced a generation of photographers,” he said.