2023 Eyes of History Still Contest: Picture Story – Feature

A series of pictures that depicts a feature story line or single feature theme. 12 photos maximum per story. A picture story depicting the President of the United States, other U.S. politicians, or U.S. politics is NOT eligible in this category.

First Place

Carol Guzy, For NPR/Zuma Press
Borodianka, Ukraine.Sunday April 17, 2022.

SUMMARY: What Remains…

Eerie still life paintings in shades of Burnt Sienna. Remnants of everyday life, frozen in a macabre stillness the moment time stopped when Russian bombs rained down on Ukraine’s residential dwellings in the liberated towns of Irpin, Borodianka and Kharkiv, Ukraine. Exquisite light kisses the scorched palette.

Baby cribs and wheelchairs. Charred cameras that once held tender family photos. A coffee cup sits on a table near a recliner, singed and flaking. A kitchen table still holds food left uneaten. What were they cooking that last day of normal?

Lives led, now put on hold. Or extinguished. Precious mementoes reduced to ash. Twisted metal, empty chairs, melted microwaves. Too painful to ponder what the power of these weapons of destruction does to human flesh at the point of impact.

Civilian things. Not the stuff of combatants. Humanity’s hopes, dreams, loves – in war, merely termed ‘collateral damage’.

The scorched buildings hold ethereal scenes reminiscent of fine art. Abstract, impressionistic patterns.

A popular cat café is in ruins, once the scene of camaraderie and conversations over cappuccinos.

Broken glass becomes a metaphor for shattered lives. Survivors visit in bittersweet homecomings to pick through the pieces of their former reality, saved from the bombardment by fickle destiny.

Others will never return.

Second Place

Jim Watson, AFP
The Leading Man: Testy at times, rambling and poetic at others, Johnny Depp embraced a familiar role at his defamation trial against his former wife Amber Heard; the leading man.

Female court bailiffs and others look out the second story window waiting for the arrival of US actor Johnny Depp during the Depp v. Heard trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on Friday, May 27, 2022. Actor Johnny Depp is suing ex-wife Amber Heard for libel after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Third Place

Carolyn Kaster, The Associated Press
Joint Service Drill-Off: Summary: Joint Service Drill Exhibition at the National Mall in Washington DC, Oct. 19, 2022, marked the first “Drill Off” in ten years. Teams were judged in uniform inspection, a full drill, and a solo drill. Guest judges, members of the United States Capitol Police Honor Guard, selected the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon as the winner.

Award of Excellence

Matt McClain, The Washington Post
Choppa Community Gun Range: Choppa Community gun range has become a place for African American gun owners and others to assemble to learn gun safety, self-defense and have a place to target practice. Many are from nearby Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD and have been affected by gun violence. The rates of gun related crimes in large metropolitan cities across the United States has been on the rise. This has caused many people to obtain guns as a means of personal protection.

Award of Excellence

Carol Guzy, For NPR
FOR BETTER OR WORSE, A Ukrainian Love Story: Sgt. Misha Varvarych, 28, an 80th Assault Brigade commander and his fiancé Ira Botvynska, 19, awake to a new day at Truskavets City Hospital in western Ukraine on Saturday November 12, 2022. They navigate an altered destiny after he lost both legs fighting during the Russian invasion amid a growing number of war wounded amputees. Their unflinching romance speaks not of life interrupted but rather adapted and embraced.

In an age-old adage, love transcends adversity. At a tender age, Ira was forced to mature quickly. She plays footsie with his prosthetic leg and stands by her man, even when he can’t. ‘I was in love with his legs, especially his tattoos,’ says Ira wistfully. They said: Face your fear. Accept your war.

In a country with a shattered economy, it’s a challenge for hospitals, also under attack and understaffed, to provide adequate care.

Misha displays not an ounce of self-pity. His ammunition is humor. When asked his weight and height he quips, ‘With or without legs?’

He faces a new profound battle - to walk again. But freed from the confines of a wheelchair they swim together fluidly as one body.

They both believe marriage itself is more important than a big wedding, but someday will get that piece of paper. For all intents and purposes, they feel married, even wearing the rings after a mutual decision to spend their lives together rather than a proposal. ‘It’s a good thing,’ jokes Misha. ‘I can’t get down on one knee now.

They explain how most couples would get on each other’s nerves while living in such a small space for over 6 months, 24/7. ‘You should see us fight. Like cats and dogs,’ laughs Misha. Then Ira clarifies, ‘I love everything about him but sometimes I want to choke him.’

Conversation turns serious when Putin’s name comes up. Misha, the warrior, talks with benevolence. His demure bride says she wants to murder the Russian leader.

He will receive state-of-the-art prosthetics in the US.

‘God has plans for me’, states Misha confidently. ‘I need bionic legs to be able to lift my child off the ground in the future.’