On Saturday, Oct. 26, the Siena Awards highlighted photographs from some of the world’s best photographers, including Jonathan Banks’ “A Boy in the Crowd,” awarded Photo of the Year.

Jurors selected the winning image from photographers from 1616 countries. Banks’ photograph highlights a Liberian child trying to retrieve his ball in a festival crowd guarded by armed soldiers.

Banks, an award-winning photographer and British Red Cross volunteer who often works with non-governmental organizations. His winning image was photographed in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, while working for peace-building organization International Alert.

“A Boy in the Crowd,” by Jonathan Banks

“At this particular three-day festival on the outskirts of Monrovia in 2008, the crowd was tens of thousands strong,” said Banks. “I started by photographing the soldiers, but then changed to what was more interesting in the crowd. I had been circling this particular soldier, when suddenly out of the crowd leaned this boy reaching for his precious ball scared of soldiers and their guns.

“This all happened in the blink of an eye and resulted in this picture, which seems to represent the precariousness of peace, as seen through the eyes of a young child with little understanding of the greater dynamics at play. All he knew was, he wanted his ball back, but also to stay safe.”

The awards took place in the historic Theater Rinnovati in Siena, Italy, and drew more than 300 photographers and guests from around the globe.

“A few years ago, we started this adventure in order to bind a uniquely beautiful and historic city like Siena with a photo festival and contest: The Siena International Photo Awards,” said Luca Venturi, Founder and Art Director. “In these five years our project has become, more and more each year, an anticipated event that is appreciated worldwide.”

American photojournalist Matt McClain was also recognized as this year’s Best Author. He had top images recognized in multiple categories, including Photojournalism for his piece titled “Memorial Day.” He was also recognized for the Fascinating Faces category, for his “Border Patrol Academy” photograph below.

“Border Patrol Academy” by Matt McClain

Other winners include:

  • Creative and Still Life: Hardijanto Budiman, “Close Your Eyes and Let it Go”
  • Photojournalism: Alessio Paduano, “Life and Death in the Mediterranean Sea”
  • Journeys and Adventures: Susana Girón, “Transhumance in Spain”
  • The Beauty of Nature: Ignacio Medem, “Natural Recycling”
  • Wildlife: William Burrard-Lucas, “Black Rhino at Night”
  • Architecture: Elizabeth Jenny Taner, “Multi Color”
  • Sports in Action: Maxim Korotchenko, “Divers”
  • Jump for Joy: Bram Paulussen
  • Storyboard: Constanza Portnoy, “Life Force: What Love Can Save”
  • Under 20: Mohit Khetrapal, “Fun Teacher”
  • Short Documentary Film: Nick Kontostavlakis, “A Journey Back to Greece”

To learn more about the Siena Awards and see the winning photographs, visit sipacontest.com.

Lead photo: “A Boy in the Crowd,” by Jonathan Banks