100 Of The Year’s Most Compelling Press Photos

The biggest news stories of the year, visualised. (Contains graphic material.)

The World Press Photo exhibition, which opens next month in London, highlights the best photojournalism of the year, celebrating photographers whose award-winning work has brought the world’s biggest stories to life. Across 15 categories, the following images capture the drama and emotion at the heart of the refugee crisis, armed conflicts, natural disasters, and the backlash against police brutality – as well as sport, the natural world, and daily lives lived in different countries and cultures.

Spot News Singles

Hope for a New Life

A baby is handed through a hole in a razor-wire barrier, to a Syrian refugee who has already managed to cross the border from Serbia into Hungary, near Röszke. Warren Richardson, Australia

March Against Terrorism in Paris

People demonstrate their solidarity with victims of terrorist attacks, and voice support for freedom of speech, at the end of a rally at the Place de la Nation in Paris. Corentin Fohlen / Divergence

Gang-related Violence

A man lies dead after a gang shoot-out in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He was the fourth victim on the same street of an ambush by members of the 18th Street gang on their rivals MS13. Niclas Hammarstrom, Sweden

Spot News Stories

Broken Border

People cross into Turkey through a broken fence, near the official border crossing. Bulent Kilic / AFP

Broken Border

People cross into Turkey through a broken fence, near the official border crossing at Akçakale. Akçakale and the Syrian town of Tel Abyad are directly adjacent to each other, with the border running through the middle. Bulent Kilic / AFP

Broken Border

People run from water cannon, fired by Turkish soldiers to keep them away from border fences. Bulent Kilic / AFP

Aftermath of Airstrikes in Syria

Smoke billows from a building in Douma, Syria. Sameer Al-doumy / AFP

Aftermath of Airstrikes in Syria

Men carry the wounded after airstrikes. Sameer Al-doumy / AFP

Aftermath of Airstrikes in Syria

A man pushes his bicycle past debris following airstrikes in Hamouria, Syria. Sameer Al-doumy / AFP

A street in Douma following an airstrike. The SOHR put the death toll at 28, though other estimates were higher. Sameer Al-doumy / AFP

Avalanche

A wall of rock, snow, and debris roars toward Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Roberto Schmidt / AFP

Avalanche

Rescuers using a makeshift stretcher carry an injured person, moments after the avalanche. Roberto Schmidt / AFP

General News Singles

IS Fighter Treated at Kurdish Hospital

A doctor rubs ointment on the burns of a 16-year-old Islamic State fighter named Jacob in front of a poster of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, at a YPG hospital compound on the outskirts of Hasaka, Syria. Mauricio Lima / The New York Times

Under the Cover of Darkness

Volunteers assist refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing by boat from Turkey under cover of darkness. Paul Hansen / Dagens Nyheter

Tianjin Explosion

A large pit, wrecked vehicles, and damaged buildings remain in the aftermath of explosions in the container storage station of a logistics company in the Port of Tianjin, northeastern China. Chen Jie / Beijing News

General News Stories

Reporting Europe’s Refugee Crisis

Refugees arrive by boat near the village of Skala on Lesbos, Greece. Sergey Ponomarev / The New York Times

Reporting Europe’s Refugee Crisis

A man carries his child as Hungarian police use tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons against people trying to cross into the country from Serbia, the day after Hungary closed its border with Serbia. Sergey Ponomarev / The New York Times

Reporting Europe’s Refugee Crisis

A Slovenian police officer on horseback escorts refugees after they crossed from Croatia. Sergey Ponomarev / The New York Times

Douma’s Children

A man cradles the body of his daughter, killed in an air raid. Abd Doumany / AFP

Douma’s Children

A wounded boy awaits treatment, following airstrikes on a market and a hospital, which, according to the SOHR, were carried out by government forces. Abd Doumany / AFP

Douma’s Children

An injured girl stands in a makeshift hospital following shelling and airstrikes. Abd Doumany / AFP

An Earthquake’s Aftermath

Nepalese villagers watch a helicopter picking up a medical team, dropping aid at the edge of a makeshift landing zone in Gumda, Nepal. Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times

An Earthquake’s Aftermath

A woman cries as the body of her daughter is recovered from the rubble of her destroyed home. Gumda, Nepal. Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times

An Earthquake’s Aftermath

Residents forage through their destroyed homes, gathering salvageable belongings. Bhaktapur, Nepal. Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times

An Earthquake’s Aftermath

Flames rise from burning funeral pyres during the cremation of earthquake victims at the Pashupatinath Temple on the banks of Bagmati River, Kathmandu, Nepal. Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times

Sports Singles

FIS World Championships

Czech skier Ondrej Bank crashes during the downhill portion of the alpine combined contest, at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Bank stumbled and lost control just before the final jump. He was hospitalized with concussion and facial injuries. Gepa Pictures / GEPA pictures

2015 NCAA Tournament

Ron Baker (31) shoots over Nick Zeisloft (2), as Hanner Mosquera-Perea (12) and Rashard Kelly (0) battle for position under the basket, at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament game between Wichita State and Indiana, at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. The tournament, held each spring and popularly known as March Madness, is a major national competition, featuring 68 college teams. Since its creation in 1939, it has become the most popular basketball tournament in the US. Greg Nelson / Sports Illustrated

Neptun Synchro

Members of Neptun swimming club’s synchronized swimming section perform in sailboat position, during pre-Christmas Lucia festivities. Jonas Lindkvist / Dagens Nyheter

Sports Stories

The Gris-gris Wrestlers of Senegal

Superstar wrestler Omar Sakho (known as Balla Gaye 2) releases a dove for good luck, before a match with Eumeu Sène, at the Demba Diop Stadium. Christian Bobst, Switzerland

The Gris-gris Wrestlers of Senegal

A tournament in the Adrien Senghor Arena in Dakar nears its end. Christian Bobst, Switzerland

The Gris-gris Wrestlers of Senegal

People watch a match held as part of Independence Day celebrations. Christian Bobst, Switzerland

The Gris-gris Wrestlers of Senegal

An assistant prepares a sacrifice to bring luck at a wrestler’s family shrine. Christian Bobst, Switzerland

Vetluga’s Hockey

The match with Tonshaevo takes place. Vladimir Pesnya / Sputnik

Vetluga’s Hockey

HC Vetluga players get ready for a match against the town of Tonshaevo. Vladimir Pesnya /Sputnik

Vetluga’s Hockey

Michael Chukino, HC Vetluga’s goalkeeper, leaves home for a match. Vladimir Pesnya / Sputnik

Ebola Survivors Football Club

Women members of the club practise a sudden-death penalty shoot-out. Tara Todras-Whitehill / The New York Times

Ebola Survivors Football Club

Erison referees a women’s match. Tara Todras-Whitehill / The New York Times

Ebola Survivors Football Club

Bandu Turay (second row from top, fourth from right), Erison’s mother, watches him play, on a field near their house in Kenema. Bandu and Erison were the only two of their immediate family to survive the Ebola epidemic. Tara Todras-whitehill / New York Times

Ebola Survivors Football Club

Erison plays with a member of his extended family. Tara Todras-Whitehill / The New York Times

Contemporary Issues Singles

Haze in China

A cloud of smog hangs over Tianjin, in northeastern China. Tianjin, the fourth-most populous city in China, is an industrial and logistics hub. Its port forms a gateway to the national capital, Beijing. Hazardous smog blanketing China’s northeast triggered red alerts in a number of cities throughout the month, including Beijing and Tianjin. Schools were advised to stop classes, and people were told to stay inside and restrict vehicle use. Zhang Lei / Tianjin Daily

The Forgotten Mountains of Sudan

Adam Abdel (7) was badly burned when a bomb dropped by a government plane landed next to his family’s home, in rebel-held territory in Darfur. Adam was blown out of the house by the force of the blast, and his clothes caught fire. Two weeks later, his burns were still healing. Treatment was hard to obtain, because the government continued to deny NGOs and relief workers access to rebel-held territory. Adriane Ohanesian, USA

March Against Police Violence

Lamon Reccord stares down a police sergeant during a march against police racial violence. Protests had taken place almost daily after the release of a police car dashcam video showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot by a Chicago police officer. McDonald, who was armed with a knife, was shot 16 times by the officer, who said he feared for his life. The protest was one of a number that occurred throughout the year, following episodes elsewhere in the country where police were accused of using excessive force against black men, often involving fatal shootings. John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune

Contemporary Issues Stories

Talibes, Modern-day Slaves

Talibes, boys who live at Islamic schools known as Daaras in Senegal. Under the pretext of receiving a Quranic education, they are forced to beg in the streets while their religious guardians, or Marabout, collect their daily earnings. They often live in squalor and are abused and beaten. Mario Cruz, Portugal

Talibes, Modern-day Slaves

Mario Cruz, Portugal

Talibes, Modern-day Slaves

Mario Cruz, Portugal

In the Same Boat

Libyan migrants being rescued by the international medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders in the Mediterranean Sea. An overcrowded rubber dinghy sailing from Libya to Italy. Francesco Zizola / NOOR

In the Same Boat

Migrants climb on board a Doctors without Borders rescue ship to escape their sinking rubber dinghy. Francesco Zizola / NOOR

In the Same Boat

Migrants wrapped in emergency blankets two days after being rescued catch sight of the Italian coast for the first time. Francesco Zizola / NOOR

Emily and Kate and Eddie and Reid

Although they hadn’t planned it, Emily and Kate got pregnant within weeks of each other through artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, respectively. Their sons were born within four days of each other, and the couple embraced the challenge of raising the two babies at once. Sara Naomi Lewkowicz / Getty

Emily and Kate and Eddie and Reid

Emily holds the newborn baby to meet his new little brother. Reid and Eddie were born only four days apart, despite being due three weeks apart. Both babies had the same donor, making them biological half-brothers. “Oh my god,” Kate said, “we’re…like…a family, suddenly!”. Sara Naomi Lewkowicz / Getty

Emily and Kate and Eddie and Reid

Emily rubs sleep out of her eyes while feeding Reid, as Kate holds Eddie during a late-night feeding. Sara Naomi Lewkowicz / Getty

Daily Life Singles

China’s Coal Addiction

Chinese men pull a tricycle in a neighborhood next to a coal-fired power plant in Shanxi, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Amazon’s Munduruku Tribe

Indigenous Munduruku children play in the Tapajos river in the tribal area of Sawre Muybu, Itaituba, Brazil. Mauricio Lima / Al Jazeera America

Into the Light

Raheleh, who was born blind, stands behind the window in the morning. She likes the warmness of the sunlight on her face. Babol, Mazandaran, Iran. Zohreh Saberi / Mehr News Agency

Daily Life Stories

An Antarctic Advantage

Chilean, Chinese, and Russian research teams in Antartica seek to explore commercial opportunities that will arise once the treaties protecting the continent for scientific purposes expire Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times

An Antarctic Advantage

A member of a German research team counts the number of penguin species and pairs as part of ongoing research on bird and penguin species in Antarctica. Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times

An Antarctic Advantage

The winter expedition crew of Russian research team and a Chilean scientist drink Samagon, a homemade vodka, in a bedroom of the Bellingshausen Antarctica base. Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times

Bliss Dharma Assembly

Tibetan Buddhists take part in the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly. The last of four annual assemblies, the week-long annual gathering takes place in the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar and marks Buddha’s descent from the heavens. Prayer flags flutter above the city. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Bliss Dharma Assembly

Nuns stand after a chanting session, during the Bliss Dharma Assembly. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Bliss Dharma Assembly

A Tibetan Buddhist nomad woman prepares tea at dusk, following a chanting session. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Citizen Journalism in Brazil’s Favelas

Police shootings in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (urban shantytowns) are so common that they are seldom reported. According to Amnesty International, around 2,000 people are killed every year by Brazilian police, often in a manner that resembles a planned execution. In Complexo do Alemão, one of the largest Rio favelas, residents, frustrated by the lack of traditional media coverage, have formed Papo Reto (“straight talk”), a collective of activists who collate and distribute images and reports through social media. Sebastian Liste / NOOR

Citizen Journalism in Brazil’s Favelas

Raul, from Papo Reto, photographs the scene where mototaxi driver Diego da Costa Algavez (22) was shot by police, in Vila Cruzeiro favela. Sebastian Liste / NOOR for The New York Times

Citizen Journalism in Brazil’s Favelas

Complexo do Alemão, viewed from Papo Reto headquarters. Sebastian Liste / NOOR for The New York Times

People Singles

Waiting to Register

Refugee children covered in rain capes wait in line to be registered. Most refugees who crossed into Serbia continued their journey north, towards countries of the European Union. Matic Zorman, Slovenia

Digging the Future

Arzuma Tinado (28) leads an eight-member crew of miners at Djuga, an artisanal gold mine in northeastern Burkina Faso. Around 15,000 people work in the area, in pits hacked into the ground, some barely wider than a manhole. As the price of gold fell, people began to dig ever deeper to find enough to make a daily wage. Arzuma works some 20 meters underground. Mining under these conditions is backbreaking labor during which miners are constantly breathing in dust. The subsequent process of extracting the gold exposes them to mercury and cyanide. Matjaz Krivic, Slovenia

Lost Family Portraits

A Syrian family in a refugee camp in the Beqaa Valley stands beside a chair representing a missing family member. According to UNHCR, by the end of the year, more than 370,000 Syrian refugees were living in camps in the Beqaa Valley, close to the Syrian border. Dario Mitidieri / CAFOD

People Stories

Exposure

On 26 April 1986, a nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine, resulted in large amounts of radioactive material being released into the atmosphere. Radioactive particles — the contaminating effects of which can last for years — were carried downwind through much of the western USSR and Europe. Five months after the disaster, a girl named Mariya was born in Kiev, 100 km south of Chernobyl. She grew up suffering from chronic thyroiditis, one of the results of radiation poisoning. These images represent 30 years of her life. Kazuma Obara, Japan

Exposure

Kazuma Obara, Japan

Exposure

Kazuma Obara, Japan

La Maya Tradition

The feast of Las Mayas, in Colmenar Viejo, on the outskirts of Madrid, has its origins in pagan ritual. It is held annually at the beginning of May, to celebrate spring. Five or six groups create altars adorned with plants and flowers on the main town square and adjacent streets, and each selects a young girl between the ages of 6 and 15 to be a “Maya”. She must then sit on the altar — very still, silent and serious — wearing a white blouse and skirt, and a Manila shawl. Daniel Ochoa De Olza / AP

The Maya Tradition

Daniel Ochoa De Olza / AP

The Maya Tradition

Daniel Ochoa De Olza / AP

Where the Children Sleep

Refugee children, on their long journey to a new home, sleep where they can along the route. Ralia (7) and Rahaf (13) sleep on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon. A grenade killed their mother and brother in Damascus. They are with their father, and have been sleeping outside for a year. Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet

Where the Children Sleep

Fara (2) loves soccer. Her father tries to make balls for her by crumpling up anything he can find, but they don’t last long. Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet

Where the Children Sleep

Lamar, from Baghdad, sleeps on a blanket in a forest. After two attempts at crossing the sea from Turkey in a small dinghy, her family has come as far as Serbia to find the border with Hungary closed. Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet

Nature Singles

Storm Front on Bondi Beach

A massive shelf cloud moves towards Bondi Beach. The cloud was part of a weather front that brought violent thunderstorms, with local media reporting damaging winds, hailstones the size of golf balls, and heavy rainfall. Shelf clouds are low cloud banks often with smooth or layered surfaces, and black, turbulent bases. Rohan Kelly

Whale Whisperers

A humpback whale and her newborn calf swim near Roca Partida, the smallest island of the Revillagigedo archipelago, off the Pacific coast of Mexico. During the mating season, the island waters are home to a large population of humpback whales, and are a popular diving destination. The islands are volcanic and are themselves uninhabited, apart from a small naval presence. They were declared a biosphere reserve in 1994, and are currently under consideration as a UNESCO natural heritage site. Anuar Patjane Floriuk, Mexico

The Power of Nature

Colima Volcano erupts with rock showers, lightning, and lava flows. The volcano, which is one of the most active in Mexico, showed an increase in activity from July onwards.
Lightning in volcano eruptions is generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in the volcanic plume collide, producing static charges — just as ice particles do in clouds.
Sergio Velasco Garcia, Mexico

Nature Stories

Tough Times for Orangutans

Orangutans are found in the wild only in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Sumatran orangutans are on the IUCN Red List as a critically endangered species, with around 7,000 living out of captivity. Borneo orangutans, the world’s largest tree-dwelling animal, are listed as endangered. Numbers of both are decreasing sharply. Orangutans are facing a crisis in habitat, as logging activity, conversion to agriculture, and fires consume their forests. They are also poached for the illegal pet trade. A young male Sumatran orangutan threatens another male, in Batang Toru Forest. Male orangutans are intolerant of other males, and compete for territory and females. Tim Laman / National Geographic

Tough Times for Orangutans

A young male Bornean orangutan climbs 30 metres up to the crown of a fruiting strangler fig tree to feed, deep in the rainforest in the Gunung Palung National Park. Tim Laman / National Geographic

Tough Times for Orangutans

Orphan baby orangutans get a ride from their night cages to a patch of forest where they can play for a day, at the International Animal Rescue facility in Ketapang. Tim Laman / National Geographic

Ivory Wars

The trade in poached ivory is financing rebel armed militia across Africa, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army, Seleka rebels of the Central African Republic (CAR), the Janjaweed of Sudan, and the FDLR in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Various national armies actively trade with these groups, and centuries-old Sudanese poaching cartels participate in sending large bands of armed men across borders to kill elephants. Patrols of dedicated rangers around the continent are on the frontline of attempts to thwart the trade. Brent Stirton / Getty Images Reportage for National Geographic

Ivory Wars

Ranger Dieudonné Kumboyo Kobango stands with his son Genekpio, who escaped soon after being abducted from his village near the park by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Brent Stirton / Getty Images Reportage for National Geographic

Ivory Wars

Michael Oryem (29) poached elephants with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), operating mainly in the Garamba National Park in DRC. He says he was asked by LRA leader Joseph Kony to take ivory to him in Darfur, Sudan, and that the LRA trades the ivory to the Sudanese Army. Oryem defected from the LRA and helped take Ugandan forces through the border into the Central African Republic to retrieve a stash of ivory he had previously hidden. He is carrying two of the six tusks he hid. Brent Stirton / Getty Images Reportage for National Geographic

Ivory Wars

Margret Acino (32) was abducted from a field outside her village by the Lord’s Resistance Army, who accused her of informing on them to the Ugandan Army. She was mutilated before being released. Brent Stirton / Getty Images Reportage for National Geographic

Chameleon Under Pressure

Chameleons are an ancient group of lizards, with more than 170 described species, living in habitats that range from rainforests to deserts, and from sub-tropical coastlines to 4,000-metre-high mountains. According to the Species Survival Commission’s Chameleon Specialist Group, over a third of the world’s chameleon species are threatened with extinction. Christian Ziegler / National Giographic

Chameleon Under Pressure

Orange panther chameleons, pictured here in captivity, fight. Originally from northern Madagascar, orange panther chameleons are very rare in the wild. Christian Ziegler / National Geographic

Chameleon Under Pressure

A dominant male of a rare turquoise form of panther chameleon displays its colours. Christian Ziegler / National Geographic

Long-term Projects

North Korea: Life in the Cult of Kim

North Korea has been one of the most isolated and least understood countries. Few outsiders have ever had a glimpse of the country and there have been very few independent photographs ever made there. This series documents urban and rural North Korea, capturing the daily life of its citizens, military events, and ceremonies. At dusk, the skyline of central Pyongyang, North Korea. David Guttenfelder / The Associated Press / National Geographic / The New York Times

North Korea: Life in the Cult of Kim

A man checks his bicycle next to a painted exclamation point on a propaganda billboard in Kaesong, North Korea. David Guttenfelder / The Associated Press / National Geographic / The New York Times

North Korea: Life in the Cult of Kim

A soldier, working as a guide, walks through a forest that is said to be a former camp site of the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. David Guttenfelder / The Associated Press / National Geographic / The New York Times

North Korea: Life in the Cult of Kim

A stage curtain slowly rises as a group of North Korean singers prepare to entertain visiting VIPs at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea. David Guttenfelder / The Associated Press / National Geographic / The New York Times

A Life in Death

A daughter photographs her own parents who were in parallel treatment for stage-four cancer, side by side. The project looks at love, life, and living, in the face of death. It honours their memory by focusing on their strength and love, both individually and together, and shares the story of their final chapters, within a year of each other. Howie sits beside his wife Laurel in what he calls their “his and hers” chairs as they get their weekly chemotherapy treatments. Nancy Borowick, USA

A Life in Death

Howie and Laurel Borowick sit next to the bathroom telephone as they hear the most recent news from their oncologist — good scans for both of them. Nancy Borowick, USA

A Life in Death

Howie Borowick dances in the kitchen to make his wife smile. They often turn to humor to lighten the heavy mood at home. Nancy Borowick, USA

A Life in Death

Laurel Borowick, Howie’s wife, smiles at him as they spend their last moment together before the casket is closed and the funeral begins. Nancy Borowick, USA

Sexual Assault in America’s Military

The incidence of sexual assault on women by their colleagues in the US Armed Forces is high. Many women see reporting attacks to their commands as difficult or futile. Very few sexual assaults are reported and only a fraction of those get to court. The trauma of a sexual assault, and the ensuing emotional distress, may lead to long-term personal issues. The effects of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) include drug and alcohol dependence, homelessness, and an increased risk of suicide. Challenges for women veterans are not always met by existing vet programs. Women veterans form the fastest growing segment of the homeless population of the US, and are four times more likely to be homeless as other women. Gary Noling stands in his daughter Carrie’s bedroom, on the anniversary of her suicide. She drank herself to death following severe retaliation after reporting her rape to superiors. Mary F. Calvert / ZUMA PRESS

Sexual Assault in America’s Military

Melissa Bania hangs a banner inscribed with the story of her rape on a footbridge across from Naval Station San Diego, in California. MST survivors had gathered in San Diego to bring attention to rape in the US military. Mary F. Calvert / ZUMA PRESS

Sexual Assault in America’s Military

Melissa A. Ramon moves with her 13-year-old son Sam into a motel she calls “The Jungle”. Melissa spent nine years in the Air Force, and suffers from MST and PTSD after sexual abuse from her training instructor and fellow airmen. Since her discharge, she has sought help from the VA and several veteran NGOs, but feels they keep denying her claims, and putting up obstacles. Melissa has frequently been homeless, and has trouble finding shelter because women’s refuges don’t allow boys over 12. She moves with Sam from one unsuitable motel to another. Mary F. Calvert / Zuma Press

Sexual Assault in America’s Military

Melissa A. Ramon cries in the waiting room of an event held to offer safe retreat for homeless veterans. Melissa spent nine years in the Air Force, and suffers from MST and PTSD after sexual abuse from her training instructor and fellow airmen. Since her discharge, she has sought help from the VA and several veteran NGOs, but feels they keep denying her claims, and putting up obstacles. Melissa has frequently been homeless, and has trouble finding shelter because women’s refuges don’t allow boys over 12, and she has a 13-year-old son. She moves with her son, Sam, from one unsuitable motel to another. Mary F. Calvert, USA

The 2016 World Press Photo Exhibition opens on 4 November at Southbank Centre, London. More information on its website.





















































































































































































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Laura Gallant is a staff photographer at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.