The World Press Photo Contest is a pretty big deal. The first contest was organized by a group of Dutch photographers in 1955 — since then, it’s grown in notoriety and is now the world’s largest press photography contest. Its aim is to “[reward] photographers for the best single exposure pictures contributing to the past year of visual journalism.”
The winning photo, announced on February 18, does just that. Taken by Australian photographer Warren Richardson, the image is of a refugee crossing the barbed-wire border from Serbia into Hungary at night, a baby in his arms. It’s utterly chilling, and perfectly encapsulates one of the biggest issues on the planet in 2015.
In a statement, Richardson explained the context behind the shot:
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.
The other winners — selected from a pool of nearly 6,000 applicants from 128 countries — are no less affecting. Check out the photos below, and prepare to relive some of last year’s biggest newsmakers, as well as some quieter moments from 2015.