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Olmo Calvo

Survivors Seeking Refuge


War is one of the main reasons for the exodus of many populations, people who risk their lives to escape from bombs and the cities in ruins they leave behind. People who come from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan abandon their homes, heading towards the countries in northern Europe. Entire families who walk, or travel on inflatable boats, buses and trains, holding on tightly to their backpacks, which are their sole belongings, on a long hazardous journey leading into an uncertain future.

Survivors seeking refuge, leaving their old lives behind while yearning for a new one ahead. In the last few months newspapers and TV news all feature images of parents walking along railroads and hugging their children, families attempting to cross borders protected by antiriot police equipped with helmets, clubs and shields, or youths jumping the fences which keep them from reaching their destination. Some make it over alive, others die in the attempt. But, even if it is only recently that their stories are on the news due to the number of people that keep arriving at the European borders, these survivors have been making the same journey for a long time, following in the footsteps of those who went before them. It is just another chapter in this tragic story, which is yet to finish.


Olmo Calvo born in Santander (Cantabria, Spain) in 1982, he is currently based in Madrid.

In 2004 he was one of the founding members of the newspaper Diagonal, taking charge of coordinating photography. In 2005 he was one of the founding members of the photographers cooperative SUB in Buenos Aires (Argentina). With the SUB cooperative he won different international awards such as the 2009 Cuenca Art Biennial (Ecuador) or several awards at the 2010 and 2012 Pictures of the Year Latam. In 2012 he was awarded the first prize at the XVI International Luis Valtueña Photography Awards with a series about evictions in Madrid.

In recent years he has been documenting the crisis in Spain, doing reports such as “Fronteras Invisibles”, “Víctimas de los Desahucios”, “No Job Land” or “Los Que Se Quedan”. In 2013 he took part in the International Photojournalism Festival PhotON of Valencia as well as in the Barcelona Documentary Photography Circuit and the International Photojournalism Festival of Gijón. In 2014 he was awarded the ABC International Journalism Award “Mingote”, an Honorable Mention at the National Photojournalism Awards (Spain) and the award Desalambre for video-journalism. In 2015 he received the third prize at the Pictures of the Year Latam awards under the category “individual images of everyday life”.

He is currently working freelance for national and international media.