Australian photographer Warren Richardson has won the World Press Photo of the Year award for capturing a photo of an asylum seeker helping a baby pass through the Hungary-Serbia border via a barbed wire fence.

Despite being a freelance photo journalist in Eastern Europe, Richardson has beaten 5,000 other photographers considered to be eligible for the award. There were 80,000 images submitted for consideration by these photographers with the goal of claiming the 10,000-euro (AU$15,630) prize money declared as the prize for the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year.

The World Press Photo of the Year is one of the most prestigious photography prizes that honours the visual creativity and abilities of the photographers that he/she applies to the picture captured. The contest chooses a picture that becomes the best photograph from a journalistic point of view in the past year. “This is an incredible image from the refugee crisis of 2015,” one of the judges, Vaughn Wallace, said in a statement. “It’s incredibly powerful visually, but it’s also very nuanced.”

Huang Wen, another judge, called Richardson’s photograph as “haunting.” “It’s subtle, and shows the emotion and the real feeling from the deep heart of a father just trying to hand over his baby to the world he was longing to be in,” Wen said as quoted by the ABC.

Richardson said that he stayed for five days, camping on the Hungary-Serbia border in August 2015, where he got an opportunity to click one of the most important pictures of his career. Around 200 people arrived in a group and moved under the tree. “I camped with the refugees for five days on the border. A group of about 200 people arrived, and they moved under the trees along the fence line. They sent women and children, then fathers and elderly men first,” he said.

“I must have been with this crew for about five hours and we played cat and mouse with the police the whole night. I was exhausted by the time I took the picture. It was around three o’clock in the morning and you can’t use a flash while the police are trying to find these people, because I would just give them away. So I had to use the moonlight alone,” explained Richardson on his award-winning work.