Arbittier was honored for a photograph depicting two women, Juana Arellano and Casandra de Leon, holding each other during a protest following President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September 2017.
“I am honored to share the stories of San Antonians through imagery,” Arbittier said upon receiving the news. “The most rewarding part of my daily work is facilitating the sharing of voices when they may not otherwise have a chance to be heard. Coming to Texas from Pennsylvania, I am intrigued and moved by issues such as immigration … I am humbled to be recognized for my work, but the real heroes are Juana Arellano and Casandra de Leon and everyone in my daily work who lets me take his or her photograph.”
Arbittier also received honorable mention for her photograph of Jamar McCracken and his horse dressed as Pegasus for San Antonio’s annual Pride Parade in July 2017.
“To make impactful work as a photojournalist, you must put in the time and energy to make the images like the two represented here,” Rivard Report Photo Editor Scott Ball said. “It’s not the click of the shutter, but the ability to understand and build relationships with the community. Bonnie does this day in and day out.”
Rivard Report Editor-in-Chief Beth Frerking praised Arbittier’s creativity, her ability to nail the telling image, and her technical proficiency. “We are so fortunate to benefit every day from Bonnie’s talent and commitment. With photos like the ones honored in this contest, she illustrates the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words – and then some, in Bonnie’s case.”
The Institute for Nonprofit News, of which the Rivard Report is a member, is a network of more than 100 nonprofit newsrooms across the nation dedicated to providing support services to its members and sharing best practices on delivering news to serve the public interest. The single-category Impact award recognizes “the best of 2017” in photography published by INN members.
“This was one of the first contests the Rivard Report has entered, so it’s very rewarding to see our work honored as we anticipate participating in more journalism awards in the coming year,” said Robert Rivard, the Rivard Report‘s founder and publisher. “Bonnie joined us more than a year ago from her hometown in Philadelphia, and she’s an example of the creative and talented young professionals who are moving to San Antonio making a real difference.”
Winners were selected by a three-judge panel comprising professional news photographers and photo editors based on the photographs’ editorial and visual impact.
First place went to Gema Galiana for a photo in the series published by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project titled What the Final Moments of Homeless People Can Teach Us. Second place went to Kathryn Gamble of The Trace for her work illustrating a story about black politicians fighting a resurgence of “stand your ground” gun laws.
Sharon Farmer, a 40-year veteran of photojournalism with publications including The Washington Post, said Arbittier’s DACA photo captured the fear undocumented people have about their futures and the tenderness between two women in a group of protesters.
“Pictures of immigration speak to the fear people have,” Farmer said. “Fear is easily seen here… and love, as one touches the other in the fearful times that would send immigrants out of the U.S.”
Annabelle Marcovici, an independent photojournalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times Lens Blog, The Washington Post, and Wired magazine, said: “The tenderness and raw emotion in this image is tangible. To me, it brings viewers face-to- face with some of the deeper human impact of immigration policy.”