Nilüfer Demir

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Nilüfer Demir
Born1986 (age 33–34)
OccupationPhotographer, photojournalist

Nilüfer Demir (born 1986) is a Turkish photojournalist and photographer based in Bodrum, Turkey. She worked with Doğan News Agency[1] since she was a teenager.[2] She covered the European migrant crisis during the summer of 2015 and her photographs of Alan Kurdi became world news on 2 September 2015. She came across the body of Kurdi on the beach and took a number of photos.[2]

Photo of dead toddler[edit]

Press photo that was re-tweeted by journalists on 2 September 2015[3]

She said that she felt "petrified" upon seeing the corpse of the toddler. Then she took the pictures to share her feelings.[4][5]

Demir's photograph of Kurdi has been compared with iconic photos that changed the world.[6] Her photograph accompanied by hashtag "KiyiyaVuranInsanlik" (English: humanity washed ashore) became the top trending topic on Twitter.[7] In March 2016 her photograph was the subject of a Dutch documentary about iconic photos, and specifically why this photo was not selected for the World Press Photo, though it had resulted in many different reactions across Europe that changed the attitude of many people about the European migrant crisis.[8] The winning World Press photo of 2015 showed a child migrant that successfully crossed into Europe and thus communicated hope rather than despair.[8]

Other photos by Demir of the dead toddler[edit]

Demir took a series of photos, though it was the one initially retweeted on Twitter that is considered to have had the most international impact.[9] This is also the image chosen by Dutch newspaper Trouw for their front page on 3 September 2015 after a female journalist published it on their website in the evening of 2 September 2015.[10] Though the initially retweeted image carried the highest emotional impact, the one most commonly chosen became a photo of the toddler seen from the side, with an aid worker approaching from the right.[9]

Photo of Alan Kurdi seen from the side[edit]

Detail of Demir's photo seen from the side with an aid worker approaching from the right, used as graffiti on a curved wall along the Main river in Frankfurt,[11]

Time Magazine selected this image also for its "Top 100 Photos of 2015".[12] Time published an update on Demir's photo of the boy seen from the side in a one-year anniversary update on their choice of this aid-worker photo, mentioning that it was also shared on social media "by thousands of people"[13]

Photo of Alan Kurdi in the arms of an aid worker[edit]

Other news agencies decided to select other photos of the same dead toddler with a rescue worker in the image, such as one with the lifeless corpse in the arms of an aid worker.[14]

Art inspired by Demir's photos[edit]

The photo of Alan Kurdi seen from the side, which partially shows the child's face, was re-used later on 6 January 2016 for a comic by Charlie Hebdo referring to the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany for their anniversary edition commemorating the Charlie Hebdo shooting, which sparked a "racism debate".[15][16] Later that month Chinese artist Ai Weiwei posed on the beach in a recreation of the position of the toddler's corpse at the time of the photographs.[17] In March 2016 graffiti artists in Germany made an artistic political statement across from the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) titled "Europa tot – Der Tod und das Geld", following these political artworks in January.[18]

In 2018, the fourth novel by Khaled Hosseini, Sea Prayer, was published. Hosseini said that the idea of the novel was inspired by photographs by Demir.[19]



  1. ^ van Ast, Maarten (3 September 2015). "Fotografe over peuter Aylan: Ik versteende helemaal". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b Giggs, Brandon (3 September 2015). "Photographer describes 'scream' of migrant boy's 'silent body'". CNN. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  3. ^ (re-)Tweet by Twitter user Liz Sly on 2 September 2015
  4. ^ "Photographer of the world-shaking picture of drowned Syrian toddler: 'I was petrified at that moment'". Hürriyet Daily News. 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ Andrew Katz (3 September 2015). "Photographer who found Syrian toddler dead on Turkish beach: ‘I was petrified’". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ McMah, Lauren (14 September 2015). "Stories behind iconic photos that changed the world".
  7. ^ Troubling image of drowned boy captivates, horrifies on Reuters, 2 September 2015
  8. ^ a b Een Zee van Beelden (English: A Sea of Images), 09 maart 2016, by Misja Pekel and Maud van de Reijt, Argos TV – Medialogica
  9. ^ a b Analysis of the viral impact of the photo of Aylan Kurdi on Social Media by researchers led by Dr Farida Vis of University of Sheffield's Visual Social Media Lab, 14 December 2015 (retrieved 13 March 2016)
  10. ^ De aangespoelde peuter die de wereld schokte website article by Nienke Schipper, 2 September 2015, Trouw
  11. ^ Remembering Aylan, Reuters article which credits only the graffiti artists "COR" (Justus Becker) and "Bobby Borderline" (Oguz Sen)
  12. ^ TIME Picks the Top 100 Photos of 2015, Slide number 90 in unranked slide show of 100 photos from the magazine's 2015 edition, 7 December 2015 (retrieved 9 July 2016)
  13. ^ 2 September 2016 anniversary update on the choice for this photo
  14. ^ Remember toddler Aylan Kurdi, UNICEF chief says ahead of refugee summits 7 September 2016 article in the Times quoting Anthony Lake's comments on the eve of UN summit
  15. ^ Charlie Hebdo comic on Twitter posted with translation of caption by journalist Sunny Hundal, 13 January 2016
  16. ^ Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting drowned child Alan Kurdi sparks racism debate, article in The Guardian 14 January 2016 in reaction to Sunny Hundal's tweet
  17. ^ Ai Weiwei poses as drowned Syrian infant refugee in 'haunting' photo, 1 February 2016, The Guardian (retrieved 9 July 2016)
  18. ^ Riesen-Graffiti zeigt toten Flüchtlingsjungen,, 10 March 2016 (retrieved 9 July 2016)
  19. ^ "HBKU Press Publishes Khalid Hosseini's Fourth Book, Sea Prayer, in Arabic". HBKU Press.
  20. ^ "Doğan News Agency nets two photo awards". Hürriyet Daily News. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  21. ^ Cankligil, Razi (9 November 2016). "Turkish photojournalist of world-shaking picture of drowned Syrian toddler to receive UNCA award". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  22. ^ The Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize 2016 on UNCA website

External links[edit]