The Most Powerful Press Photos Of The Year Just Announced


  1. 21 Contemporary Issues, Singles, 2nd Prize, "Male Rape" By Mary F. Calvert

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    Former US marine Ethan Hanson bathes at home in Austin, Minnesota, USA, after a sexual trauma experienced during his military service left him unable to take showers. During a boot camp, Ethan and fellow recruits were ordered to walk naked through a communal shower while pressed together. Ethan reported the incident, but was harassed by the other men for doing so. Nightmares and panic attacks later forced him to resign. Recent Defense Department figures show sexual assault in the military to be on the increase. Servicemen are less likely than women to report sexual trauma, fearing retaliation or stigma.

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  2. 22 Portraits, Stories, 3rd Prize, "Falleras" By Luisa Dörr

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    Women and girls wear fallera dresses for the Fallas de Valencia festival in Valencia, Spain. Inspired by clothes worn centuries ago by women working in rice fields around the city, the dresses have changed over time and are now elaborate creations that can cost in excess of €1,000. Made mainly of lace and silk, fallera dresses are worn by anyone who wants to take part in what is one of Spain’s biggest street festivals. To complement the gown, falleras set their hair in a traditional three-bun style adorned with ornate combs and jewellery, often handed down through generations. Different parts of the city each have a fallera mayor (and maybe also a young fallera mayor infantil)—a woman who represents her falla (neighborhood group) at the festivities. It is an honor to be chosen, and can mean even greater expense being lavished on the outfit.

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  3. 23 General News, Singles, 2nd Prize, "Still Life Volcano" By Daniele Volpe

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    The living-room of an abandoned home in San Miguel Los Lotes, Guatemala, lies covered in ash after the eruption of Volcán de Fuego on 3 June. Fuego, around 40 km southwest of the capital Guatemala City, is one of Latin America’s most active volcanoes, and has been erupting periodically since 2002. It is monitored by volcanologists, but this eruption came without warning. People living around the volcano, many at Sunday lunch, were surprised by the suddenness of the event, as Fuego spewed red-hot lava, ash, poisonous gases and flaming debris onto villages below. The eruption was one of the deadliest in Guatemala for over a century. Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences reported the recovery of 318 bodies, over a third of them unidentified.

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  4. 24 Long-Term Projects, Stories, 2nd Prize, "The House That Bleeds" By Yael Martínez

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    Across Mexico, more than 37,400 people have been categorized as ‘missing’ by official sources. The vast majority of those are believed to be dead—victims of ongoing violence that has claimed more than 250,000 lives since 2006. These disappearances are the source of lasting psychological trauma for families left behind. The violence has its roots in the war on Mexico’s powerful drugs cartels instigated by President Felipe Calderón during his 2006–2012 term of office, and continued by his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto. The ensuing violence has led to a catastrophic rise in murder rates and in the number of unsolved disappearances, which is aided by corruption and impunity. President Nieto promised an end to violence, but although homicides declined, authorities seemed unable to restore the rule of law or make much progress in the struggle against cartels. Among the states most affected are Sinaloa and Guerrero, which was included in a list of no-travel zones by the US government in 2018. In 2013, one of the photographer’s brothers-in-law was killed and another two disappeared. This led him to begin documenting the resultant psychological and emotional fracture in his own family and in the families of other missing people, to give a personal account of the despair and sense of absence that accrues over time.

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  5. 25 Nature, Stories, 3rd Prize, "Wild Pumas Of Patagonia" By Ingo Arndt

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    Pumas, also known as mountain lions or cougars, are found from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes, the widest range of any large wild mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They can survive in a variety of habitats, from deserts and prairies to forests and snowy mountains, but are generally shy and elusive to humans. The Torres del Paine region in Chilean Patagonia is thought to contain higher concentrations of pumas than anywhere else in the world. Pumas are ambush predators, stalking their prey from a distance for an hour or more before attacking. In Torres del Paine, pumas feed mainly on guanacos, which are closely related to llamas.

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  6. 26 Contemporary Issues, Stories, 3rd Prize, "Faces Of An Epidemic" By Philip Montgomery

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    The body of Brian Malmsbury is taken away after he overdosed on heroin in the basement of his family’s home, Miamisburg, Ohio, USA. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people a day in the US die after overdosing on opioids. President Donald Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency. The crisis has its roots in the 1990s, when pharmaceutical companies assured doctors that opioid pain relievers were not addictive. The firm Purdue Pharma, in particular, has been accused of aggressive marketing even when the effects of opioids were known. Increased prescription of opioids such as Oxycontin led to widespread misuse. Some people switched to heroin, which was cheaper, and later to synthetic opioids, which are more potent and more likely to lead to a fatal overdose.

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  7. 27 Spot News, Stories, 1st Prize, "The Migrant Caravan" By Pieter Ten Hoopen

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    During October and November, thousands of Central American migrants joined a caravan heading to the United States border. The caravan, assembled through a grassroots social media campaign, left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on 12 October, and as word spread drew people from Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. They were a mix of those facing political repression and violence, and those fleeing harsh economic conditions in the hope of a better life. Traveling in a caravan offered a degree of safety on a route where migrants have previously disappeared or been kidnapped, and was an alternative to paying high rates to people smugglers. Migrant caravans travel to the US border at different times each year, but this was the largest in recent memory with as many as 7,000 travelers, including at least 2,300 children, according to UN agencies. Conditions along the way were grueling, with people walking around 30 km a day, often in temperatures above 30°C. The caravan usually set off at around 4am each day to avoid the heat. Like others, the caravan drew condemnation from US president Donald Trump, who made it a focal point of rallies and used it to reiterate his call for tough immigration policies and the building of a border wall.

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  8. 28 Portraits, Stories, 2nd Prize, "Northwest Passages" By Jessica Dimmock

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    Transgender individuals around the world are still exposed to widespread social stigma and abuse. For many transgender women, coming to terms with their female selves is an ongoing process. Some find resourceful ways in which to express their identities in private. Senior transgender women in northwestern USA are pictured in the places where they hid their female identities for decades.

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  9. 29 Long-Term Projects, Stories, 1st Prize, "Beckon Us From Home" By Sarah Blesener

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    Patriotic education, often with a military subtext, forms the mainspring of many youth programs in both Russia and the United States. In America, the dual messages of ‘America first’ and ‘Americanism’ can be found not only as a driving force behind adult political movements, but around the country in camps and clubs where young people are taught what it means to be an American. In Russia, patriotic clubs and camps are encouraged by government. In 2015, President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a Russian students’ movement whose aim was to help form the characters of young people through instruction in ideology, religion and preparedness for war. The ‘Patriotic Education of Russian Citizens in 2016–2020’ program called for an 8 percent increase in patriotism among youth, and a 10 percent increase in recruits to the armed forces. The photographer visited ten youth programs in the US, as well as schools and military summer camps in Russia. The aim of the series is to use these young people and their lives as the focal point in an open dialogue around the ideas instilled in future generations, and examine how young people are responding to contemporary society.

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  10. 30 Nature, Stories, 1st Prize, "Falcons And The Arab Influence" By Brent Stirton

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    The millennia-old practice of falconry is experiencing an international resurgence, especially as a result of efforts in the Arab world. UNESCO now recognises falconry as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (ICH), a status enjoyed by no other hunting sport. Falcons bred in captivity have helped diminish the trade in captured wild birds, including some species that are listed as endangered. But some falcons in the wild continue to be at risk from capture and other anthropogenic factors such as electrocution on badly designed powerlines, habitat degradation and agrochemicals. Similarly, although the breeding of birds such as houbara bustards for prey has made hunting a more sustainable practice, the British Ornithologists’ Union reported that the wild houbara population continued to decline

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