Simon Townsley

The Telegraph

There’s a stillness and poignancy to the photojournalist Simon Townsley’s work that belies the underlying heartbreak. The effect has much to do with light and contrasts. In one example, a father holding his young daughter stands by the grave of his wife, dead to Covid. They are caught in a cold sunlight that also silvers the serried ranks of headstones and the undersides of the lowering clouds, in a shot that conveys grief, loss and a future that might have been. 

In another photo, the monochrome devastation of the Kahramanmaraş earthquake in Turkey – grey, twisted wire, rubble and a column of seemingly stunned, black-clothed people – is relieved only by a blue body bag in the bucket of a yellow mechanical digger, and the dried-blood-red of an emergency vehicle.  

The quiet desperation of people in a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo, pressed against a wire fence with their arms outstretched towards the sacks of scarce food arriving on aid workers’ backs, is evident in a shot whose colours seem as faded as their hopes.

Judges praised Townsley’s “beautiful set of images, which bear witness to some of the biggest news stories of the year, and show a photographer at the top of his game.”