Portraits, first prize singles
Laurinda, a young Kamilaroi girl, plays with her dress as she waits for the bus that will take her to Sunday school. Many disadvantaged communities in Australia face entrenched poverty, racism, trans-generational trauma, violence, addiction, and a range of other barriers to health and wellbeing.
Monkey Training for a Circus
Nature, first prize singles
A rhesus macaque cowers as its trainer approaches, while training for a circus act, in Suzhou, eastern China.
Performing animals in circuses and zoos are enormously popular in China. After years of pressure from animal-welfare groups, the Chinese government has banned animal circuses, and implemented regulations to stop abuse at state-owned zoos, but many trainers say they have not heard of the ban, nor have any intention of stopping. Authorities in Suzhou, which with its 300 troupes is known as the hometown of circus in China, have announced plans for developing alternative circus entertainment, without performing animals.
General News, second prize singles
Refugees crowd on board a boat some 25 kilometers from the Libyan coast, prior to being rescued by an Italian naval frigate working as part of Operation Mare Nostrum (OMN). The search-and-rescue operation was put in place by the Italian government, in response to the drowning of hundreds of migrants off the island of Lampedusa at the end of 2013. The numbers of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea rose sharply in 2014, as a result of conflicts or persecution in Syria, the Horn of Africa, and other sub-Saharan countries.
OMN involved the Italian Red Cross, Save the Children, and other NGOs in an effort not only to rescue lives, but to provide medical help, counseling, and cultural support. Naval officers were also empowered to arrest human traffickers and seize their ships. In its one year of operation, OMN brought 330 smugglers to justice, and saved more than 150,000 people, at least a quarter of which were refugees from Syria. The operation was disbanded in October, and replaced by Triton, an operation conducted by the EU border agency Frontex, focusing more on surveillance than rescue
Contemporary Issues, second prize singles
Wei works in a factory in Yiwu, eastern China, coating polystyrene snowflakes with red powder. He wears a Christmas hat to protect his hair, and goes through at least six face masks a day.
According to the Chinese government press agency, 600 factories in Yiwu produce around 60 percent of the world’s Christmas decorations. The factories are staffed largely by migrant laborers, who work 12-hour days for between 270 and 400 euros a month. Wei, who comes from rural Guizhou, 1,500 kilometers away, is not entirely sure what Christmas is, but thinks that it is a foreigners’ form of Chinese New Year.
Blue Sky Days
Contemporary Issues, second prize stories
Students in a courtyard in El Dorado County, California, viewed from a drone. In 2006, a drone strike on a religious school in the village of Chenegai, Pakistan, reportedly killed up to 69 children. Since 2002, the US has used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) to collect intelligence and carry out airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The aircraft are guided via satellite by distant operators. The attacks have resulted in a large number of fatalities, including hundreds of civilians. The photographer bought a small drone, fitted it with a camera, and flew it in the US over the sorts of gatherings that have become habitual targets for airstrikes abroad—weddings, funerals, groups of people praying or exercising. He also used it to photograph settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as oil fields, prisons, and the US-Mexico border.
Tomas van Houtryve
VII for Harper's Magazine
Mothers of Patience
Contemporary Issues, Honorable Mention prize stories
Mothers and families of missing soldiers gather around the coffins of ‘unknown martyrs’—unidentified bodies that have recently been discovered near the Iraq-Iran border. The Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th century. More than 10,000 Iranians were reported missing in action in Iraq. Casualty figures are highly uncertain, though the numbers of dead on both sides ran into the hundreds of thousands. In Iran, people who were killed in the conflict were declared martyrs for their country, and therefore for Islam. Over 10,000 Iranian soldiers were reported missing in action, without a corpse being identified. Bodies are still being discovered and repatriated. Many mothers of missing soldiers live in hope of seeing their sons again, or finally having a body that they may bury.
Ebola in Sierra Leone
General News, first prize stories
Residents of the town of Kailahun gather along a river at dusk. At the time, Kailahun district, in eastern Sierra Leone, was the most heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak, which originated across the nearby border with Guinea. The first cases of a new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone were reported in May. There is no cure for Ebola, and the fatality rate can be as high as 90 percent. The virus causes high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as internal and external bleeding. It is highly contagious, being passed on by sweat, blood and other bodily fluids. Extreme care has to be taken to avoid infection while treating patients, and in burying victims. The healthcare system in Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries, was not equipped to cope with the disease, and assistance from foreign NGOs became crucial. By the end of the year, 2,758 people had died of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The disease also ravaged neighboring Guinea and Liberia, with 7,880 deaths reported across the three countries overall in 2014.
Prime for National Geographic / The Washington Post
General News, third prize stories
Women grieve on the stairs of an apartment block, during the funeral of a young Islamic fighter, Abdalla Ismail al Buheisi, on 22 July. After weeks of rising tension following the killing of three Israeli teenagers, Israel launched a major offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Hamas had fired rockets into Israel on 7 July, after a series of Israeli air strikes in which several Hamas members had been killed. On 8 July, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, aimed at stopping the rocket attacks, and destroying Hamas capabilities, in particular the smuggling tunnels that had been built between Gaza and Egypt. The offensive lasted seven weeks, during which more than 2,100 people were killed in Gaza, 69 percent of which, according to the UN, were civilians. In Israel, six civilians and 67 soldiers were killed. Amnesty International published a report that criticized Israel’s ‘grossly disproportionate’ responses, but suggested violations of international law on both sides.
The New York Times
Development and Pollution
Long-Term Projects, third prize stories
Due to the vast exploitation of coal mines, Holingol’s meadows have been destroyed, now bereft of cattle and sheep. To improve the city’s image, the local government placed in the Horqin Grassland over 120 sculptures of sheep, as well as cattle, horses and camels. China is now the world’s second-largest economy. Its economic development has consumed lots of energy and generated plenty of pollution. A habit of directly discharging unprocessed industrial sewage, exhaust gas and waste material has led to pollution of farmlands, grasslands and drinking water as well as the ocean and the air. Over the past ten years, factories have been moved from the country’s east to its central and western parts, thus greatly expanding the polluted area and increasing the severity of the the situation. Although the environmental protection administration has shut down many small enterprises with serious pollution emission, some still continue to discharge contaminants illegally. Some have adopted covert operations, such as releasing the smoke and gas waste at night. The sewage channel is embedded into the river and ocean for discharging pollution. Western factories have large evaporation ponds to store sewage, but the sewage sinks into the ground, thus polluting the water source. Minerals, such as coal and iron, are expanded to large-scale predatory strip mine exploitation from the original underground mining. Grassland has been turned into desert. Fertile farmland has given way to barren mountains. Herdsmen no longer have grassland. Farmers have lost their farms, their own homelands destroyed, thus causing the villagers to become displaced. Winds carry the exposed coal dust and sand, causing smog. Smog, in turn, forces middle and primary schools to close. Flights get delayed. The highway gets shut down. The number of hospital patients with respiratory disease goes up. Food and drinking water is polluted, which leads to cancer, so common China has seen the emergence of ‘cancer villages’. China’s environmental pollution has already exerted great threats to the people’s life and security.
for Greenpeace International
Long-Term Projects, second prize stories
54°33’47.37”N 18°13’42.22”E Kacper Kowalski is a pilot and a photographer. 'Side Effects' is a documentary project about the complex relationship between humans and nature. The photos were shot either from a paraglider or a gyroplane, some 150 meters above the ground, mainly in the area around Gdynia, in Poland, where Kowalski lives. In this work, Kowalski explores answers to questions that deeply interest him: What is the natural environment for humans? Is it an untouched, virgin landscape? Or is it a landscape that has changed, adapted to human needs? Kowalski sees his work as offering a graphic and sometimes abstract portrait of how civilization came into being. For Kowalski, the content of the photo is less important than the reactions, reflections, and ideas that arise when looking at it. He would like the project to be a starting point for discussion about what is good or bad, necessary or optional, in the relationship between humans and nature. The camera is never connected to a remote control, and Kowalski never uses a drone. He wants to be up there, camera in hand. And he flies alone. That means he doesn’t have to explain anything, or rely on another person’s spatial imagination. It means he can fly precisely. Side Effects is more a method of visual storytelling than a concrete set of pictures. It is an ongoing project that will continue to be modified.
Portraits, second prize singles
A woman suspected of being a sex worker is held for questioning, at a police station in Chongqing, southwest China. Local residents had complained about sex-workers’ cards and leaflets being pushed under their doors. Prostitution is illegal in China.
Portraits, third prize singles
Amorie West, dressed as a disco girl, adjusts her gloves before a Halloween party at her housing complex.
San Antonio Express-News
Portraits, first prize stories
Richard plays basketball at Miracle Village.
Miracle Village, on the southeast corner of Lake Okeechobee in South Florida, in the midst of sugarcane fields and five miles from the nearest town, houses a community of 100 sex offenders. It was set up by an evangelical pastor, Dick Witherow, as a sanctuary for people he terms ‘modern-day lepers’—subject to lifelong restrictions on their movements, which often leave them few options of where to live. Residents of Miracle Village include people sentenced for offences such as the possession of child pornography, and a man who at the age of 18 had sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. Many are tagged with ankle monitors, must obey a nighttime curfew, and cannot own a laptop or mobile phone.
Portraits, second prize stories
Russian women are portrayed in the interiors of their own homes, in the moments just before or after posing for a photograph that would be used for a dating website.
Spot News, first prize singles
A young girl, wounded during clashes near Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey.
Violence broke out between riot police and people attending the funeral procession of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan. He had been hit on the head by a teargas canister while out buying bread, during anti-government demonstrations the previous June, and died following a nine-month coma. The June protests had begun over plans to develop the city’s Gezi Park into a mosque and shopping center, and had escalated into national expressions of opposition to what was seen as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism. Elvan’s death triggered further anti-government protests across the country. Despite such opposition, Erdogan was elected as president of Turkey five months later.
Portraits, third prize stories
Hellenic Naval Academy, Piraeus, Greece Portraits of cadets in some of Europe’s most prestigious military academies. For centuries, military academies across Europe have upheld traditions of soldierly honor and discipline. Young officers-to-be are schooled not only in matters of combat, but are instilled with a sense of their heritage. Even though these academies are deeply tied to the ideas of nation and homeland, in today’s Europe they also provide bridges across borders.