World Press Photo Winner 2015: Intimate, Cinematic Image by Mads Nissen

Contest highlights the year's best photojournalism from around the world

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World Press Photo of the Year 2014 First Prize Contemporary Issues, Singles St. Petersburg, Russia Caption: Jon and Alex, a gay couple, during an intimate moment. Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia. Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination, harassment, and even violent hate-crime attacks from conservative religious and nationalistic groups.© Mads Nissen—Scanpix/Panos Pictures
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Second Prize Nature Category, Singles Lewa Downs, Northern Kenya Caption: A group of young Samburu warriors encounter a rhino for the first time in their lives. Most people in Kenya never get the opportunity to see the wildlife that exists literally in their own backyard.© Ami Vitale—National Geographic
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Ebola Virus for National Geographic Magazine

First Prize General News Category, Stories Freetown, Sierra Leone Caption: Medical staff at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center work to escort a man in the throes of Ebola-induced delirium back into the isolation ward from which he escaped. In a state of confusion, he emerged from the isolation ward and attempted to escape over the back wall of the complex before collapsing in a convulsive state. A complete breakdown of mental facilities is a common stage of advanced Ebola. The man pictured here died shortly after this picture was taken.© Pete Muller—Prime for National Geographic/The Washington Post
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Operation Mare Nostrum

Second Prize General News Category, Single Off the coast of Libya Caption: Shipwrecked people are rescued aboard a boat 20 miles north of Libya by a frigate of the Italian navy. After hundreds of men, women and children had drowned in 2013 off the coast of Sicily and Malta, the Italian government put its navy to work under a campaign called “Mare Nostrum” rescuing refugees at sea. Only in 2014, 170,081 people were rescued and taken to Italy.© Massimo Sestini
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First Prize Spot News Category, Singles Istanbul, Turkey Caption: A young girl is pictured after she was wounded during clashes between riot-police and protestors after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during last year's anti-government protests. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at protestors in the capital Ankara, while in Istanbul, crowds shouting anti-government slogans lit a huge fire as they made their way to a cemetery for the burial of Berkin Elvan.© Bulent Kilic—AFP
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Clashes in Maidan square- kiev

Second Prize Spot News Category, Stories Kiev, Ukraine Caption: A protester calls for medical aid for a comrade shot dead. After several months of violence, anti-government protesters remained mobilized by holding barricades in Kiev’s Independence Square, known simply as the Maidan. On Saturday, Feb. 20, 2014, unidentified snipers opened fire on unarmed protesters as they were advancing on Instituska Street. According to an official source, 70 protesters were shot dead. Ukrainian riot police claimed that several police officers were wounded or shot dead by snipers as well. An unofficial source said that snipers opened fire on the police and protesters at the same time in order to provoke both camps. February 20 was the bloodiest day of the Maidan protests, and two days after, President Viktor Yanukovych left the country.© Jérôme Sessini—Magnum for De Standaard
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Second Prize General News Category, Stories Abuja, Nigeria Caption: School uniforms belonging to three of the missing girls. In her school notebook, Hauwa Nkeki wrote a letter to her brother: "Dear Brother Nkeki, Million of greetings goes to you thousand to your friend zero to your enemies." Hauwa is one of the nearly 300 girls who were kidnapped by the Islamic militants Boko Haram on April 14, 2014 from their school dormitory in Chibok, a remote village in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram’s name translates roughly to “Western Education is Sinful.” The group believes that girls shouldn’t be in school and boys should only learn the Koran.© Glenna Gordon
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First Prize Portraits Category, Singles Moree, New South Wales, Australia Caption: Laurinda waits in her purple dress for the bus that will take her to Sunday School. She is among the many socially isolated young women in disadvantaged communities in Australia facing entrenched poverty, racism, trans-generational trauma, violence, addiction, and a range of other barriers to health and well-being.© Raphaela Rosella—Oculi
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In Drones We Trust

Third Prize Contemporary Issues Category, Stories El Dorado County, California, United States Caption: Students in a schoolyard. Several thousand people have been killed by covert U.S. drone strikes since 2004. The photographer bought his own drone, mounted a camera and traveled across the US looking for similar situations as mentioned in strike reports from Pakistan and Yemen, including weddings, funerals, and groups of people praying or exercising. He also flew his camera over settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as prisons, oil fields and the U.S.-Mexico border.© Tomas van Houtryve—VII for Harper’s Magazine
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Crisis in Ukraine

First Prize General News Category, Singles Donetsk, Ukraine Caption: Damaged goods lie in a kitchen in downtown Donetsk. Ordinary workers, miners, teachers, pensioners, children, and elderly women and men are in the midst of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Artillery fire killed three people and wounded 10 on Aug. 26, 2014.© Sergei Ilnitsky—EPA
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First Prize Nature Category, Singles Suzhou, Anhui Province, China Caption: A monkey being trained for circus cowers as its trainer approaches. With more than 300 roupes, Suzhou is known as the home of the Chinese circus.© Yongzhi Chu
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Cadet in the Koninklijke Militaire Academie, Breda.

Third Prize Portraits Category, Stories Breda, The Netherlands Cation: Cadet in the Koninklijke Militaire Academie. From a series of portraits of cadets from the most important military academies of Europe.© Paolo Verzone—Agence Vu
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Second Prize Daily Life Category, Singles Baroncea, Moldova Caption: Twin brothers Igor and Arthur hand out chocolates to their classmates to celebrate their ninth birthday. When they were two years old, their mother traveled to Moscow to work in the construction field and later died. They have no father. They are among thousands of children growing up without their parents in the Moldovan countryside. Young people have fled the country, leaving a dwindling elderly population and young children.© Åsa Sjöström—Moment Agency/INSTITUTE for Socionomen/UNICEF
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Second Prize Daily Life Category, Stories Caption: John wears his grandson’s bowler hat. It was in the afternoon. I was sitting on my grandpa’s couch. The door was slightly open, and I saw light coming through, washed out between the white door and white walls. All of a sudden it all started making sense. I could relate what I was seeing with what I felt. John and Prova, my grandparents. Growing up, I found much love and care from them. They were young and strong. As time went by, it shaped everything in its own way. Bodies took different forms and relations went distant. Grandma’s hair turned gray, the walls started peeling off and the objects were all that remained. Everything was contained into one single room. They always love the fact that I take pictures of them because then I spend more time with them, and they don’t feel lonely anymore. After Prova passed away, I try to visit more so John can talk. He tells me stories of their early life, and how they met. There are so many stories. Here, life is silent, suspended. Everything is on a wait; A wait for something that I don’t completely understand.© Sarker Protick
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Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants

Second Prize Sports Category, Singles East Rutherford, New Jersey Odell Beckham (#13) of the New York Giants makes a one-handed touchdown catch in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.© Al Bello—Getty Images
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Second Prize Contemporary Issues Category, Singles Yiwu, China Caption: Wei, a 19-year-old Chinese worker, wearing a face mask and a Santa hat, stands next to Christmas decorations being dried in a factory as red powder used for coloring hovers in the air. He wears six masks a day and the hat protects his hair from the red dust, which covers workers from head to toe like soot after several hours of work.© Ronghui Chen—City Express
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Mindsuckers

First Prize Nature Category, Stories Caption: When spores of the fungus land on an ant, they penetrate its exoskeleton and enter its brain, compelling the host to leave its normal habitat on the forest floor and scale a nearby tree. Filled to bursting with fungus, the dying ant fastens itself to a leaf or another surface. Fungal stalks burst from the ant's husk and rain spores onto ants below to begin the process again.© Anand Varma—National Geographic
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First Prize Sports Category, Singles Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Caption: Argentina player Lionel Messi comes to face the World Cup trophy during the final celebrations at Maracana Stadium. His team lost to Germany 1-0, after a goal by Mario Götze in extra time.© Bao Tailiang—Chengdu Economic Daily
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First Prize Long-Term Projects Family Love 1993-2014 – The Julie Project San Francisco, California, USA Caption: I first met Julie on Jan. 28, 1993. Julie, 18, stood in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel, barefoot, pants unzipped, and an 8 day-old infant in her arms. She lived in San Francisco's SRO district, a neighborhood of soup kitchens and cheap rooms. Her room was piled with clothes, overfull ashtrays and trash. She lived with Jack, father of her first baby Rachel, and who had given her AIDS. Her first memory of her mother is getting drunk with her at 6 and then being sexually abused by her stepfather. She ran away at 14 and became drug addict at 15. Living in alleys, crack dens, and bunked with more dirty old men than she cared to count. "Rachel," Julie said, "has given me a reason to live." For the next 21 years I photographed Julie Baird and her family's complex story of poverty, AIDS, drugs, multiple homes, relationships, births, deaths, loss and reunion.© Darcy Padilla—Agence Vu

Danish photographer Mads Nissen, represented by the Panos picture agency, has been selected winner of the World Press Photo 2015 Contest for his photograph of Jon and Alex, a gay couple in St. Petersburg, Russia, during an intimate moment. The image was part of a series called "Homophobia in Russia," which was also awarded 1st Prize in the Contemporary Issues category. It is a quiet, subtle, cinematic image, closer in tone (and perhaps toning) to John Stanmeyer's winning submission last year, than to many of the photos selected throughout the contest's history. It speaks to the wave of anti-LGBT legistation and subsequet violence that has taken hold in Russia over the last 12 months.

Winners of the 58th annual contest also include Pete Muller for his coverage of Ebola in Sierra Leone (First Prize General News Category, Stories), Ami Vitale for her work on wildlife in Kenya (Second Prize Nature Category, Singles), Bulent Kilic for his work from protests in Istanbul (First Prize Spot News Category, Singles), Tomas Van Houtryve for his drone photos of the U.S. (Third Prize Contemporary Issues, Stories) and Glenna Gordon for her coverage of kidnapped victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria (Second Prize General News Category, Stories), among others.

In total, there were 5,692 photographers PDF list who submitted 97,912 pictures this year. The World Press Photo Foundation, which is based in the Netherlands, has confirmed that upwards of 20% of the finalists were disqualified for excessive post-processing, an issue incited by the recent controversy over Paul Hansen's winning "Gaza Burial" image made in 2013.

“It seems some photographers can’t resist the temptation to aesthetically enhance their images during post-processing,” World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering says, “either by removing small details to ‘clean up’ an image, or sometimes by excessive toning that constitutes a material change to the image. Both types of retouching clearly compromise the integrity of the image.”

The group of 17 judges was chaired by Michele McNally, director of photography and assistant managing editor of The New York Times, who discussed the winning entries with the photographer Donald Weber in the video below.

The winning images will be present in a traveling exhibition in over 100 cities and 45 countries, starting with Amsterdam at De Nieuwe Kerk from April 18, 2015.

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