The winners of the 59th annual World Press Photo Contest were recently announced, and this year’s collection of stunning entries showcases an amazing variety of humanity across the globe. Each year, the World Press Photo Foundation collects the most powerful images that summarize some of the global events that dominated the news over the past 12 months. With 82,951 entries submitted by 5,775 photographers from 128 different countries the array of imagery is staggering, each photograph a breathtaking example of the ability that photography has to communicate moments of humanity.
The overall winning image this year was captured by Australian freelance photojournalist Warren Richardson. His haunting photograph highlights the extent of the humanitarian crisis that has dominated our recent history and remains one of the most pressing stories of 2015. Below is a collection of the winning images in a variety of categories, including Daily Life, General News, Contemporary Issues, People, Sports, Long-Term Projects, Nature, and Spot News. Check out some of the amazing images that visually explain this year.
Above: World Press Photo of the Year, and winner of First Prize in the Spot News category
Hope for a New Life by Warren Richardson
A man passes a baby through the fence at the Hungarian-Serbian border. Although multiple entries in this year’s World Press Photo competition covered the migrant crisis from multiple angles, and this haunting image stood out for the jury. Richardson: “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. 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.” Taken in Rszke, Hungary, on August 28, 2015.
People, Second Prize Winner, Stories
La Maya Tradition by Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP
A ‘Maya’ girl sits in an altar during the traditional celebration of ‘Las Mayas’ on the streets of the small village of Colmenar Viejo. Young girls between the age of 7 and 11 are chosen every year as ‘Maya’ for the ‘Las Mayas,’ a festival derived from pagan rites celebrating the arrival of spring, in the town of Colmenar Viejo, Spain. The girls are required to sit still for a couple of hours in a decorated altar. Taken near Madrid, Spain, on May 2, 2015.
Nature, Third Prize Winner, Singles
by Sergio Velasco Garcia
Colima Volcano in Mexico shows a powerful night explosion with lightning and some incandescent rockfalls. Photo taken 12.5 kilometers away from the crater near a lagoon named Carrizalillos on Comala Municipality. This particular bolt of lightning is more than 600 meters tall, lighting details of the south portion of volcano in this 8 second exposure. December 13, 2015.
Daily Life, Third Prize Winner, Singles
Into the Light by Zohreh Saberi / Mehrnews Agency
Raheleh, who was born blind, stands behind a window in the morning. She likes the warmness of the sunlight on her face. Photograph taken just north of Tehran, Iran, on November 12, 2015.
Contemporary Issues, First Prize Winner, Singles
Haze in China by Zhang Lei / Tianjin Daily
A city in northern China shrouded in haze. Taken in Tianjin, China, on December 10, 2015.
Contemporary Issues, Third Prize Winner, Singles
By John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune
Lamon Reccord stares down a police sergeant during a protest following the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by police in Chicago, Illinois. Taken on November 25, 2015.
Sports, First Prize Winner, Singles
By GEPA pictures / Christian Walgram
Czech Republic’s Ondrej Bank crashes during the downhill race of the Alpine Combined at the FIS World Championships. Taken on February 8, 2015 in on Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Long-Term Projects, First Prize Winner, Stories
Sexual Assault in America’s Military by Mary F. Calvert / Zuma Press
U.S. Army Specialist Natasha Schuette, 21, was pressured not to report being assaulted by her drill sergeant during basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Though she was hazed by her assailant’s fellow drill instructors, she refused to back down and Staff Sgt. Louis Corral is now serving four years in prison for assaulting her and four other female trainees. The U.S. Army rewarded Natasha for her courage to report her assault and the Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response & Prevention office distributed a training video featuring her story. She is now stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Taken on March 21st 2015.
Daily Life, Second Prize Winner, Stories
Bliss Dharma Assembly by Kevin Frayer / Getty
Tibetan prayer flags, known as Lung-ta, on a hillside in the Larung Valley of Sertar County, Sichuan Province, China. 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. Taken on October 30, 2015.
Daily Life, Third Prize Winner, Stories
Citizen Journalism in Brazil’s Favelas by Sebastian Liste / NOOR
The leader of the Papo Reto collective receives an image of a 22-year-old taxi driver who was shot dead by a police officer. A group of friends from Alemo, a slum in Rio de Janeiro, formed a media collective called Papo Reto, or “straight talk”. Social media allow them to report stories from their community otherwise ignored by traditional media. Taken on February 8, 2015.
Daily Life, Second Prize Winner, Stories
Bliss Dharma Assembly by Kevin Frayer / Getty
Tibetan Buddhist nomads listen during the annual Bliss Dharma Assembly. Taken on October 31, 2015 in Sertar county.
Nature, First Prize Winner, Singles
Storm Front on Bondi Beach by Rohan Kelly / Daily Telegraph
A massive ‘cloud tsunami’ looms over Sydney as a sunbather reads, oblivious to the approaching cloud on Bondi Beach, Taken on November 6, 2015 in Australia.
People, Third Prize Winner, Singles
Lost Family Portraits by Dario Mitidieri
A portrait of a Syrian refugee family in a camp in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. The empty chair in the photograph represents a family member who has either died in the war or whose whereabouts are unknown. Taken on December 15, 2015.
Nature, Second Prize Winner, Singles
Whale Whisperers by Anuar Patjane Floriuk
Divers observe and surround a humpback whale and her newborn calf while they swim around Roca Partida in the Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico. Taken on January 28, 2015.
Sports, Second Prize Winner, Stories
The Gris-gris Wrestlers of Senegal by Christian Bobst
BB Bisma Ndoye defeats the wrestler Maraka Dji in the Demba Diop stadium in Dakar, Sierra Leone. These tournaments resemble a festival including dance performances, music, and wrestling shows. Taken on on April 5, 2015.
People, First Prize Winner, Singles
Waiting to Register by Matic Zorman
A child is covered with a raincoat while she waits in line to register at a refugee camp. Taken on October 7, 2015 in Preevo, Serbia.
General News, Third Prize Winner, Singles
Tianjin Explosion by Chen Jie
Aerial view of the destruction after the explosion in Tianjin, China. Taken on August 15, 2015.
Daily Life, First Prize Winner, Singles
China’s Coal Addiction by Kevin Frayer / Getty
Chinese men pull a tricycle in a neighborhood next to a coal-fired power plant in Shanxi, China. A history of heavy dependence on burning coal for energy has made China the source of nearly a third of the world’s total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the toxic pollutants widely cited by scientists and environmentalists as the primary cause of global warming. Taken on November 26, 2015.
Contemporary Issues, First Prize Winner, Stories
Talibes, Modern-day Slaves by Mario Cruz
Talibes sleep together inside a daara in Saint Louis. The daara with over 30 children has no clean water and barely any electricity. Children sleep on the concrete floor without any protection. The series portrays the plight of 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. Taken north of Senegal on May 21, 2015.
Spot News, Second Prize Winner, Singles
March Against Terrorism in Paris by Corentin Fohlen / Divergence
Demonstration against terrorism in Paris, after a series of five attacks occurred across the le-de-France region, beginning at the headquarters for satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Taken on January 11, 2015.
Long-Term Projects, Third Prize Winner, Stories
North Korea: Life in the Cult of Kim by David Guttenfelder / AP
At dusk, the skyline of central Pyongyang, North Korea. 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. Taken on April 12, 2011.
Contemporary Issues, Third Prize Winner, Stories
Emily and Kate and Eddie and Reid by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz
Emily and Kate brush their teeth together before going to bed. 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. Taken on December 6, 2015.
Nature, First Prize Winner, Stories
Tough Times for Orangutans by Tim Laman
A Sumatran orangutan threatens another nearby male in the Batang Toru Forest, North Sumatra Province, Indonesia. The project covers the lives of wild orangutans, as threats from fires, the illegal animal trade and loss of habitat due to deforestation have resulted in many orphan orangutans ending up at rehabilitation centers. Taken on March 17, 2014.
Contemporary Issues, Second Prize Winner, Stories
In the Same Boat by Francesco Zizola / NOOR
Migrants climb on board of a rescue ship by Doctors without Borders to escape their sinking rubber dinghy. The series covers Libyan migrants being rescued by the international medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders in the Mediterranean Sea. Taken on August 21, 2015.
Nature, Second Prize Winner, Stories
Ivory Wars by Brent Stirton / Getty Images for National Geographic
A Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighter holds two ivory tusks. Ivory is a means of financing the LRA and is used for both food and weapon supplies. Series portraying the armed groups that profit most from the illegal ivory trade and the people at the frontline of the war against them, as well as others affected. In the case of the specific armed groups, the sale of ivory benefits the Lord’s Resistance Army, The Seleka Rebels of Central African Republic, the Janjaweed of Sudan and the F.D.L.R rebels who base themselves inside Virunga National Park in the DRC. Taken on November 17, 2014.
General News, First Prize Winner, Stories
Reporting Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Sergey Ponomarev / New York Times
Refugees arrive by boat near the village of Skala on Lesbos, Greece.Taken on November 16, 2015.
All images and explanations via World Press Photo Foundation.