© Ami Vitale
Seen by few, but beloved by billions, the giant panda is one of the most recognized animals on the planet. It’s hard to imagine, but these animals, who roamed the earth for eight million years, were only discovered in the last century. Unknown, and hidden from the western world for millions of years, even today they are seen by few but known by most everyone. Found only in central China, the entire species came dangerously close to extinction. Scientists considered the giant panda a relic species; shy, and difficult to breed in captivity. But now there is a glimmer of hope, as years of research are finally paying off. In a region where bad environmental news is common, China cracked the code and is on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador. The giant panda was recently taken off the endangered species list! A cub gets weighed at Bifengxia. In the wild, once they’ve grown to adulthood, female pandas may weigh up to 220 pounds and males up to 250 pounds, and they’ll range from four to six feet long. © Ami Vitale

The world’s largest photography competition has announced the shortlist of photographs for the 2017 competition. In its tenth year, the Sony World Photography Awards received 227,596 entries from 183 countries.

The overall winners will be announced on April 20, 2017. Check out some of our favorite shortlisted images from the Professional category below.

© Ioana Moldovan
Dr. Ciupitu doing a house call to consult on an infant. The child had otitis due to improper bathing. According to Eurostat data, with an infant mortality rate of 8.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014, Romania ranks first among European countries (the EU rate is 3.7). Gangiova, Romania, Aug. 18, 2016. “Good day, doctor! Good evening, doctor”, voices of people of all ages greet her kindly as Floarea Ciupitu walks around the village. At 61 she has been a family doctor serving Gangiova, a village in south-west Romania for the past three decades. Ciupitu oversees roughly 1700 registered patients. On week days she sleeps above her practice in a tiny room, on an old hospital bed. At night, a tiny flashlight guides her way one store up to her modest accommodation, no electricity on the staircase. Romania has a population of almost 20 million. Doctors in rural areas are outnumbered by peers in cities two to one, while half of the population lives in the countryside. The healthcare sector is overrun with crises and never ending problems. In 27 years since the anticommunist revolution of 1989 the country has had at least 25 health ministers take office. Doctors, especially younger ones, are fleeing the country in search of better work conditions and career opportunities. The Romanian Health Ministry states there is a severe doctors shortage. While things may look a little better in the city, Romania’s villages are plagued with a lack of access to healthcare. Family doctors are often overworked having to care for a larger number of patients than the recommended average. Ciupitu is living proof that, despite all the difficulties and the problems in a flawed system, there still are doctors who commit to their patients. She stands to help remember that being a doctor is a calling. © Ioana Moldovan
© Asger Ladefoged

6. x på Lejrtur

What happens, when 28 schoolchildren meet the controversial Danish therapist Carl-Mar Møller and are encouraged to play freely without rules? A sixth grade class from Øster Farimagsgade, a School in Copenhagen has done it twice. They went from the posh part of central Copenhagen to muddy wildness in Kokkedal, Denmark. There is only one rule at Carl-Mar Møllers place: No shoes inside. So nobody interfered with the pillowfight in the dormitory. Everything was in play and all involved left the fight exhausted and smiling.
© Frederik Buyckx

Doda’s Castle

There is a peculiar transformation of nature when winter comes, when snow and ice start to dominate the landscape and when humans and animals have to deal with the extreme weather. The series investigates this struggle against disappearance. The struggle against a whiteout. These photos were made in the Balkans, Scandinavia and Central Asia; remote areas where people often live in isolation and in close contact with nature. A harsh existence, fighting against superhuman forces.
© Dino Kuznik
I found the parking lot at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Visitor Center way more interesting than the actual Monument Valley. © Dino Kuznik
© Yuan Peng
This series was taken in a sports school in Jining, in Shandong province, China. Liu Bingqing and Liu Yujie are twin sisters, who have liked gymnastics since their childhood. They have studied, trained and grown up here. © Yuan Peng
© Eduard Korniyenko
In the Soviet era, the sport of bodybuilding was not welcomed by official institutions, as opposed to weight lifting, which was judged acceptable and included in the Olympic program. But people everywhere, from small towns in the far North-East to Siberia, Moscow and even the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, persisted in going to the “sweat box” gyms in cellars, to “build a body.” Western magazines crammed with images of unrealistically muscled male and female bodies passed from hand to hand and an additional impetus to this semi-legal sport came with the growth of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popularity. Today, with the ban lifted, bodybuilding’s popularity has not diminished. The only difference is that some of the clubs have moved from their old basements into modern fitness centres, although the basement scene remains. A couple of times a year the participants climb the podium during various amateur and even professional tournaments. Here you can meet anyone; tax inspectors and businessmen, housewives and popular TV presenters. Regardless of social status, or whether you live in a small town in the centre of Siberia, or in a big city, the only important thing for these people is making their bodies look perfect, and being admired by others. © Eduard Korniyenko
© Mahesh Shantaram
Anywhere in the world, it takes a black person to tell us what racism really feels like. On January 31st, 2016, India woke up to yet another news of a shocking mob attack against a Tanzanian student. This particular one was appalling enough to earn international press and force the nation into a period of soul-searching. Since the incident, I’ve been traveling across the country to meet Africans and learn about their experiences. I make portraits as a personal response to give them recognition. Hamza came all the way from Nigeria to study human rights in India. This I found surprising. I didn’t know one could study that subject here except perhaps to study its spectacular absence. Hamza is by far the most sensitive guy I’ve ever met on this tour of Africans in India. When I asked to photograph him in his wallpapered dwelling, he requested that he be joined by his love, Shukura, a student of nursing. He says of this relationship, “Thank you for being patient with me. Together we can prove those bitches wrong.” © Mahesh Shantaram
© Dario Mitidieri


March 2017 will mark the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Syria. More than 470,000 people have died since. In all, 11.5% of the country’s population have either been killed or injured. 45% of the population have been displaced, 6.36 million internally and 4.8 million abroad. This is the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.  Lost Family Portraits aims to tell the story of those who have lost family members in the Syrian war, and who have made their way to the refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. The empty chairs or spaces in the photographs symbolize the missing family members. Lost Families Portraits is a reminder of the of the destructive power that war has over families. It is also a testimony to the 1.5 million refugees who are left behind in Lebanon, who cannot afford to buy their way into Europe and who have nothing to go back to. OWAYED’S FAMILY – “I was forced to leave my 4 sons behind. I was getting WhatsApp messages from them, but one day they stopped.”
© Christian Vizl
Mexico, Baja California, Sea of Cortez. A big school of Jacks forming a ceiling found at the protected marine area of Cabo Pulmo. © Christian Vizl
© Tommaso Rada
Natural History Museum, Porto, Portugal. Stuffed deers have been covered with plastic during the construction works inside the Natural History Museum of Porto. During the renovation of the museum the equilibrium and the magic of the Museum changed: the animals and the objects gained a new and bizarre life. Displaced from their defined position and out from the staged environment created for the display, they became strange objects, weird creatures inhabiting the space abandoned by the guards of the buildings. The image has been scanned from negative. © Tommaso Rada
© Ami Vitale
Seen by few, but beloved by billions, the giant panda is one of the most recognized animals on the planet. It’s hard to imagine, but these animals, who roamed the earth for eight million years, were only discovered in the last century. Unknown, and hidden from the western world for millions of years, even today they are seen by few but known by most everyone. Found only in central China, the entire species came dangerously close to extinction. Scientists considered the giant panda a relic species; shy, and difficult to breed in captivity. But now there is a glimmer of hope, as years of research are finally paying off. In a region where bad environmental news is common, China cracked the code and is on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador. The giant panda was recently taken off the endangered species list! A cub gets weighed at Bifengxia. In the wild, once they’ve grown to adulthood, female pandas may weigh up to 220 pounds and males up to 250 pounds, and they’ll range from four to six feet long. © Ami Vitale
© Grant Hegedus
This series shows what happens when you take the names of meals in a literal sense. It shows you what happens when you begin to look at the language surrounding food in a comedic way, therefore transforming what the names of the meals and foods are in to what they literally describe and making them come alive as a physical form. Above is Bangers and Mash. © Grant Hegedus
© Dongni
A variety of urban form and minimalist architecture breaks the old structure, splitting it into triangles, squares and diamond shapes, refracting a new living style on extant spatial structures. Demonstrating a free use of the language of visual forms, it appears like a game, similar to Goldbach’s conjecture; the destruction of the ossified template of the city, a visual exploration of breaking the rules. In a spatial context, when we ignore the aesthetics of the city, ignore the rules and celebrate the deconstruction and reconstruction of the urban space, the space itself gives us more control and adds more joy to the city. © Dongni
© Diego Mayon
Prostitution is legal in Greece and the authorities decided to stipulate that all brothels must have permits. There are different kind of brothels, the upper class ones are called Studio. The difference from the normal brothels are the buildings, more discreet, the attitude of the prostitutes, more polite, and the price, obviously higher. A person welcomes the clients and once inside there is a waiting room where the girls available come out to show themselves. At this point the clients decide whether to stay or to leave. These brothels are recognizable by a pink light sign with the word Studio. © Diego Mayon
© Lorenzo Maccotta
Bucharest, Romania, April 2016: A 33-year-old cam model after his day shift in a room at Studio N2. The adult webcam industry is worth $1 billion annually, and is growing fast as the technology becomes better and cheaper.  Collectively, the sites are estimated to be visited daily by some 5 percent of the web’s global users and the number of models performing live online shows from private apartments or from specialized studios is increasing worldwide. Romania, a country with one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the EU, is now the undisputed world capital of studio-based cam operations, thanks to widespread wireless broadband access. The industry has grown substantially since 2001, and most major Romanian cities now count hundreds of facilities offering English-speaking male and female models—most in their twenties—fast internet connections, high definition webcams and decorated rooms where they can turn into the virtual best friends and cybersex partners of paying clients, mostly from North America, but also from European and Asian countries. In exchange for the workspace, the studios take a percentage of the models’ pay—which can reach $48,000 per month. The models are paid by platforms like Luxembourg-based LiveJasmine, one of the leading providers, ranking as the 103rd most popular site in the world and, with 25 million unique visitors monthly, the 80th most visited site in the USA. © Lorenzo Maccotta
© Tasneem Alsultan
“I married my dental college classmate. Sharing two children and a happy marriage, we finally decided to buy our dream house. Two days before signing the lease, he died in a motorcycle accident. Then, my father died. I was legally required to have a male guardian. I now wait for my son to turn 16 to take that role. Until then, my step brother decides on my behalf.” Whilst Saudi Arabia is an international symbol of Islam, many Saudis would agree that there’s a strong disconnect between the Qur’an and local traditions. I wanted to answer question that many shared: Do we need marriage to signify that we have love? Do you need a husband to have a significant life? I started the project thinking I only had my personal story to share. I was married at the age of 17, and living separately as a single parent for the last six years of an unhappy 10 year marriage. Many family members commented on how foolish I was to ask for a divorce. Only later, I realized that there were many Saudi women who had similar experiences, beyond my expectations of a typical Saudi housewife. With each story, I found more women sharing complex marriage theories and experiences. I followed the stories of widows, happily married, and divorced women. I explored the concept of love, photographing my young daughter and grandmother. Utilizing imagery (with permission from those weddings I photographed) I interlaced the construction and expectation of marriage through often elaborate wedding ceremony imagery and rituals. A common realization with every woman I photographed, was that they all managed to overcome the many hurdles that was put by society or/ and state. © Tasneem Alsultan
© Li Song
In November 2016, Li Hang, an eleven-year-old boy from Harbin, arrived at Changchun weight loss centre determined to lose weight. He had been diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome when he was 3 years old, and on admission, his weight had reached 155 kilograms. Prader-Willi Syndrome is a disease related to an abnormality in chromosome 15, and in around 70% of patients is inherited from their father. It occurs in 1 in 15000 people. Li Hang was being treated with traditional Chinese medicine every day, including massage, acupuncture, fire treatment and cupping therapy. Fire treatment is a weight loss treatment. Ingredients are applied to the body’s meridian system, with the fire process unblocking meridian points that hinder the speed of the body’s metabolic processes, all with the aim of transforming fat into energy that can be eliminated from the body. From his initial fear to this point, Li Hang has been greatly tormented, but he is supported by his faith in doing what is necessary to live a normal person’s life and to look after his mother. © Li Song
© Amber Bracken
Oceti Sakowin, or the Seven Council Fires, is the true name of the great Sioux nation and refers to the coming together of the different factions of the tribe. Oglala, Cheyenne, Ut, Cree, Hopi and non-indigenous all are among the 200+ tribes represented in the camps and on the front lines. The last time there was a similar gathering was before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, 1876. For nearly ten months, members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies have been camped in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing their land and water. The estimated $3.78 bill project is nearly complete, crossing almost 1,172 miles. But the resistance has stalled development at the Missouri River. Although on it’s face, the issue is the pipeline, the conflict runs much deeper and is steeped in generations of violent history. These are the people of the Battle of Little Big Horn and of Wounded Knee, who were driven to starvation by the loss of the buffalo and away from their sacred Black Hills. Police treatment of water protectors hasn’t been out of step with this history. In military vehicles and body armor, police have indiscriminately used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, percussion grenades and water canons in sub-zero temperature. Despite all of this, the pipeline is still unresolved and water protectors are still on the land. But wether the pipeline is completed or not, the groundswell created for this resistance will certainly have reverberations for industry and indigenous people alike. I spent a month and a half, over three trips with the people in the camps. © Amber Bracken
© Alessio Romenzi
Sirte, Libya, November 26, 2016: A fighter of the Libyan forces affiliated with the Tripoli government gets some rest whilst outside, clashes with ISIS continue in the Al Jiza neighborhood. © Alessio Romenzi
© Joe Raedle

Torrential Rains Bring Historic Floods To Southern Louisiana

A historic flood, caused by a massive rainstorm, hit parts of Louisiana and overwhelmed local communities, causing thirteen deaths and damaging thousands of homes with flood waters. A person is seen on the front porch of a home as it is surrounded by flood waters in Port Vincent, Louisiana.
© Ivor Prickett

Iraq. Recently displaced Iraqis reach safety

Iraqi civilians displaced by fighting in the village of Shora, 25km South of Mosul, reach an Iraqi army checkpoint on the Northern outskirts of Qayyarah. Over 800,000 people are still trapped in Mosul, according to estimates from the United Nations. Tens of thousands are sheltering in neighborhoods declared liberated by Iraqi forces and many more remain in parts of the city under ISIS control. Humanitarian organizations continue to fear mass displacement and civilian casualties. Many have already made the harrowing decision to flee their homes, in some cases leaving behind the bodies of loved ones who died as the fighting came to their area and had to be buried in front gardens.
© Yulia Grigoryants
Lusine with her children in their tiny apartment in Gyumri, sleeping all 6 in the only room, that serves also as kitchen and playroom for the family. In 1988, a 7.0 Richter-scale earthquake struck northern Armenia. The quake killed at least 25,000 people in the region. Thousands more were maimed and hundreds of thousands left homeless. Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city bore much of the damage. Large-scale war by the early 1990s, the collapse of the Soviet Union, an energy shortage, and a blockade that left landlocked Armenia with just two open borders contributed to exacerbating the region’s already prevalent social and economic problems. A quarter of a century later, Gyumri has the country’s highest poverty rate at 47.7%. The city has lost nearly half of its population since 1988, due in part to the migration of the labor force. A few thousand families are still living in makeshift shelters, waiting for help. Many of them are not eligible for new housing, since they are not considered to be direct victims of the earthquake. 25 years later, they are still waiting for urgently needed improvements to their dwellings. During the Soviet era, these huge twin dormitory buildings on the outskirts of Gyumri accommodated around 60 families each. Today there are just four families living here, among decaying walls and corridors. © Yulia Grigoryants
© Sandra Hoyn
Kajol with her 6-month-old baby Mehedi and a customer on her bed. Two weeks after birth of Mehedi she was forced to have sex again with customers. Because of the baby her business is not good. The Kandapara brothel in the district of Tangail is the oldest and one of the largest in Bangladesh – it has existed for some 200 years. It was demolished in 2014 but has been re-established with the help of local NGOs. The brothel district is surrounded by a two-meter wall, and in the narrow streets within, there are food stalls, tea shops and street vendors. More than 700 sex workers live and work here with their children and their madams. Many of the women were either trafficked or born inside the brothel’s walls and in this way their livelihood is secure. Their customers are policemen, politicians, farmers, fishermen, factory workers and groups of teenage boys. © Sandra Hoyn
© Michael Tummings
Hidden captures man’s engagement with nature through a close examination of the practice of hunting. Hunting lies at the foundation of human survival. These unflinching photographs capture the human element in the ritualized killing of animals. Their focus is on authentic, observed moments that have been shaped by tradition, and which are still practiced in the modern world. Increasingly, our access to nature is designated as a cultural activity. Nature functions as construct of the imagination, where it is romanticized as pure and harmonious. But nature itself is marked by decay and violence. While hunting posits man as an external source of violence, the culling of animals maintains the balance and diversity of the landscape – even as it domesticates the landscape into an elaborate garden. These photographs reference the classic European tradition of paintings depicting the hunt, in addition to 20th century photographic portraiture. The rituals and divisions of class are inherent to the images in Hidden, as are both the modernization and preservation of tradition. Employing 5 x 4 analogue photography, the series uses a detached camera eye to observe the social dynamics of the group, its rituals, and the ways in which they are infused with meaning. © Michael Tummings
© Nader Saadallah
Quarries’ Men is a portfolio about white limestone quarries craft in Minya, Egypt and how are the workers can make and shape these Stone from the white mountain. There are four phases. The first is the equalization of mountain with a big winches and spikes. The second phase is the shaping, there’s a machine which called “El fasalah” which cut and partition the mountain to stone blocks ” 13*26 cm” . The third phase is the extracting, there’s a machine which called “El hashasha ” which extract the final result of the stones as a free blocks that ready to use, The fourth and final one is the filling, after that the workers are filling it into the vehicles to be ready for trading in the market. © Nader Saadallah