“The End of the Caliphate”


Getty Images




Feature/ Photographic Essay

After months of fighting, the Kurdish-led and American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces declared, on March 23 2019, the “100 per cent territorial defeat” of the self-styled Islamic State. The group once held vast areas across Syria and Iraq, controlling a population of up to 12 million in a “caliphate” that drew tens of thousands of foreign nationals to join its ranks.

Chris McGrath’s images show masterly use of composition, natural light and range of angles. His photographic essay is of stunning quality, edited to explore how daily life continues amid the devastation of the conflict. Alongside brutal images of death and destruction are glimpses of everyday lives: kids selling cigarettes, a brass band looking miserable, women and children fleeing.

Judges’ comments:

“An extremely strong body of work; raw and emotive. Chris McGrath captures the scale of war, and the different groups of people affected, with painterly use of natural light. The composition is artistic and the details are human and memorable.”