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Remembering Yannis Behrakis Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

5 March 2019

Greek photojournalist and Reuters senior editor Yannis Behrakis passed away March 2 after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

"My mission is to tell you the story and then you decide what you want to do," he told a panel discussing Reuters Pulitzer Prize-winning photo series on the European migrant crisis. "My mission is to make sure that nobody can say: 'I didn't know.'"

Born in Athens, he chanced across a Time-Life photo book that inspired him to study photography in Athens and than at Middlesex University in the U.K.

He worked in a photo studio in the mid-1980s but was bored. When he saw the 1983 movie Under Fire about reporters covering Nicaragua before the 1979 revolution, he decided to pursue a career in photojournalism.

'My mission is to make sure that nobody can say: "I didn't know."'

He began working for Reuters as a freelancer in 1987 in his mid-twenties.

His first foreign assignment was to cover Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya in 1989. He managed to sneak in next to Gaddafi and get a few wide-angle shots that were published the next day on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

He went on to cover Ayatollah Khomeini's funeral in Iran; Eastern Europe and the Balkans after the collapse of the Soviet empire; conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon; both Gulf wars in Iraq; the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia; the civil war in Ukraine; and the NATO bombing of ISIS in Syria.

He covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for years, moving to Jerusalem to become Returers' chief photographer for the region. He moved to Greece to cover the 2010 financial crisis and the 2015 refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

He also covered four Summer Olympics, the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. and many other international sports events.

He won the Bayeux-Calvados Awards for war correspondents three times and took First Prize in the General News Stories category at World Press Photo in 2000 for his work on Kosovo. He received multiple awards in the China International Press Photo Contest and was named Photographer of Year by The Guardian in 2015. His Thomson Reuters team won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for their work on the European refugee crisis.

A selection of his images can be seen on his Instagram page.

He is survived by his wife Elisavet and their daughter Rebecca and his son Dimitri.

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