Halifax photographer wins international prize for series on athlete

The World Press Photo Contest has recognized Darren Calabrese's work on Halifax rugby player and CrossFit athlete Lindsay Hilton.

Published on February 14, 2017

n this image released Monday Feb. 13, 2017, by World Press Photo titled "Adaptive Athlete" by photographer Darren Calabrese, which won third prize in the Sports, Series, category of the World Press Photo contest shows Lindsay Hilton, born without hands or feet, wrapping around a competitor's leg to make a tackle during a rugby club tournament in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on July 23, 2016.

©Darren Calabrese, World Press Photo via AP

While he may be the one who landed a prize in an international photo contest, Halifax photographer Darren Calabrese hopes the subject of his photo is the one who gets the recognition.

It was announced on Monday morning that Calabrese had won third prize in the sports stories category in the World Press Photo Contest.

Calabrese’s winning photo collection told the story of Lindsay Hilton, a Halifax CrossFit and rugby athlete who was born without arms or legs.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Calabrese said of the award. “It felt really great for Lindsay’s story to be recognized this way.”

Calabrese first heard about Hilton when her workout videos went viral in early 2016. He approached Hilton with the idea of a photo essay shortly after, hoping that his images might tell a more complete story of her life.

“I hope people understand her as a person and not just her as an athlete,” he said.

The photo collection follows Hilton as she cycles through her time at the gym, the rugby field, and at home with her partner, Matt Melanson. It was originally published by ESPN in January.

Hilton praised Calabrese, calling him a great guy with a humble personality.

“It’s one of the first stories that’s been published about me that really shows who I am that isn’t one of those quick inspiration pieces,” she said. “I think it’s really great that he’s getting the recognition he deserves.”

As for Calabrese, he hopes the prize will help create new opportunities to tell stories like Hilton’s that explore the deeper narratives in sports.

Despite the most recent accolade, he said it is business as usual.

“I’m celebrating by shooting blizzard features,” he said, “and I’m going to watch a movie with my three-year-old later.”

“I don’t think things are going to change that much.”

The jury gave prizes in eight categories to 45 photographers from 24 countries. Jurors selected winners from a group of more than 5,000 photographers from 125 countries who entered the contest.