Best of AP — First Winner


Up close to Iceland’s volcanic eruption, AP dominates with awe-inspiring visuals

People look at the volcano erupting, north of Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Iceland’s Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. AP PHOTO / MARCO DI MARCO


When tremors struck in the early hours of Thursday morning, AP stringer Marco di Marco knew he didn’t have long to reach the scene of Iceland’s latest volcanic eruption before access would be limited by rescuers. His swiftness put the AP ahead of competitors with stunning photos and video coverage that amazed global audiences.

A volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted for the third time since December and sent jets of lava into the sky. The eruption triggered an evacuation of the Blue Lagoon spa, which is one of the island nation’s biggest tourist attractions. Several communities on the Reykjanes Peninsula were cut off from heat and hot water as a river of lava engulfed a supply pipe.

Iceland-based visual journalist Marco di Marco, a specialist in volcano photography and videography, has developed strong relationships with scientists, rescuers and local officials in his work with the AP. He was en route as soon as the eruption occurred, immediately alerting Stockholm-based journalist David Keyton, who put in place all-formats coverage including much-used live video feeds.

Di Marco’s knowledge of the terrain and relationship with local law enforcement enabled him to quickly position himself near where the lava flow would breach a key road, providing unique coverage of the fast-moving event. On site, he filed compressed photos to the global photo desk, edited from his phone amid extremely limited network coverage. That enabled the AP to provide clients with strong visuals just as the world was waking up to news of the eruption. Throughout the day, he provided stunning photography and videography, including aerial perspectives, while also updating AP colleagues on the developing situation on the ground.

AP clients were clamoring for visuals as soon as news of the eruption appeared, and Di Marco delivered faster and better than the competition — even better than local reporters. Di Marco’s photo of the moment lava flow engulfed a road was the top digital photo download and was printed on the front page of the Financial Times. Several other global newspapers featured Di Marco’s images and client usage of his video content was phenomenal.

For being the driving force behind our stunning coverage of this volcanic eruption, Marco di Marco wins Best of AP — First Winner.

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