Shared human experience.
That was the driving force behind photojournalist Chris Hondros' work. Moments of humanity, brought into the light and into the consciousness of the greater public. His images — whether made within the baked-clay walls of a compound in Basra, the mold-blanketed alleys of post-Katrina New Orleans or the quiet glades of a snow-covered Central Park — reflected an innate desire to photograph the human world he saw unfolding around him. His work was deeply empathetic, a quality that allowed him to tell stories that lingered in viewers' minds long after the page was turned. And Hondros' staff position at Getty Images amplified his reach — his photos sent on the wire to thousands of publications around the world, with the potential to reach literally billions of eyes.
In April 2011, in the very midst of doing the hard, important work that he loved, Hondros' life was cut short by a mortar round.
The Chris Hondros Fund, established in his name by his fiancée Christina Piaia and close friends, aims to "continue and preserve Hondros’ distinctive abilities to bring shared human experiences into the public eye." Now in its second year, the Fund offers financial support to photographers who work in the same vein that Hondros did — with empathy, dedication and humility.
"This award recognizes and supports photojournalists who bring the news stories of our time into view," says Piaia.
Today, the fund, in conjunction with Getty Images, gave Chilean photographer Tomás Munita the $20,000 award, citing his "fierce commitment to photojournalism and endless drive to tell a story." Munita's portfolio of work, shot in a wide variety of settings and locales, reflects a strong and nuanced grasp of the human condition. His photographs of refugees in Afghanistan, prisoners in El Salvador and daily life in Cuba all demonstrate just how in touch Munita is with the currents (and undercurrents) of life.
"I would like to express my gratitude," Munita told TIME. "[This award] is not just a recognition. It is the means to keep working on personal projects, which I am definitely going to do."
Photographer Bryan Denton was selected as a finalist for the 2013 award; the committee cited Denton's "rare ability to capture both the complexities and daily life of those living in conflict and its aftermath with an unyielding commitment and intellectual curiosity."
Previously, on the first anniversary of Hondros' death after he was killed in Libya in 2011, the fund awarded $20,000 to NOOR photographer Andrea Bruce. Emerging photographer Dominic Bracco received a $5000 runner-up award.
For more information on the Chris Hondros Fund, visit ChrisHondrosFund.org.