Incredible photos from 2017

Law enforcement officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Moscow, Russia. Maxim Shemetov: “This picture was taken during protests in central Moscow, organised by opposition leader Alexey Navalny. I was in Pushkinskaya Square, which was flooded with people, shouting slogans and waving flags. Traffic stopped and the police started detaining people. I saw police officers holding a protester by his arms and legs. He was shouting, and his head was just between their boots. I shot some frames almost from ground level while running beside them. I didn’t look into my camera. I was just thinking: “Let my picture be sharp! Let it be sharp!” The next day it was on the front page of the New York Times.” (Image: Reuters)
Residents wade through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Houston, Texas. Jonathan Bachman: “It was my first day covering Hurricane Harvey. I only made it 500 yards into Houston when I came across a staging area where ordinary people were conducting water rescues in the Beaumont Place neighbourhood of Houston, Texax. In addition to the rescues, residents were able to walk against the current down a long road which is seen in the image. At first I went out on a boat with a couple from Louisiana to help and document several rescues. When we got back, I looked down the road and saw an almost perfect line of residents making the long walk to the staging area. I intentionally moved to a position so I could photograph them in a way that would convey the magnitude of this storm. I wanted to communicate that it was a never-ending line of residents struggling to get to safety and it would go on for days. Harvey was a very difficult and emotionally taxing assignment. My first instinct was to put down the camera and help. It is always hard to come to the realisation that I am most helpful when I am taking pictures. As an observer of suffering you have to believe that your images can make a difference.” (Image: Reuters)
Palestinians react following tear gas that was shot by Israeli forces after Friday prayer on a street outside Jerusalem’s Old city. Ammar Awad: “One Friday, Muslim elders called for a Palestinian “Day of Rage” to protest Israeli security measures at Jerusalem’s holiest site. I’m a native of Jerusalem and have covered the city for Reuters for 17 years, so I knew that Ras al-Amud, directly across the valley from the walled Old City, would be my best vantage point because the al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock dominate the landscape. I arrived at the scene and the first thing I heard was an Israeli officer giving orders to his forces to disperse the crowd the moment Friday prayers ended. Seconds later, sound bombs erupted and many of the Muslim worshippers who had been praying started to run. Others were just finishing their prayers as the scene turned to chaos. It’s hard to describe the sound bombs. They are so loud it is as though the whole area must have been destroyed. I took 20 frames as an Israeli tear gas canister was unleashed on the crowd. The light from the exploding projectile lit up the scene, highlighting the colours in an unnatural way. Scores of men cowered instinctively from the deafening boom. I delivered the photo directly from my camera to the desk knowing that it told the unfolding story. I had a feeling that it would be the photo of the day.” (Image: Reuters)
Migrants try to stay afloat after falling off their rubber dinghy during a rescue operation by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ship in the central Mediterranean in international waters some 15 nautical miles off the coast of Zawiya in Libya. All 134 sub-Saharan migrants survived and were rescued by MOAS. Darrin Zammit Lupi: “I spent five weeks with the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) on their ship, Phoenix, covering search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. At the start of the Easter weekend we were on a routine rescue around 15 nautical miles off the Libyan coast. I was on the MOAS fast rubber boat with crew members handing out life jackets to a group of 134 Sub-Saharan migrants on a flimsy dinghy before we would transfer them to the Phoenix. I had one camera up to my eye to shoot some wide angle frames. Suddenly, one migrant balancing on the rim of a dinghy slipped sideways and like dominos several of his colleagues lost their balance and fell into the sea. I captured the whole sequence by keeping my finger on the shutter button. It was chaos. I kept shooting as the rescuers leapt into action, helping several of the migrants pull themselves onto our boat. I was grabbing hold of people with one hand and shooting with the other. Then, through my viewfinder, a few metres away, I noticed one man struggling more than the others, stretching out his arm towards us. I screamed to alert our specialist rescue swimmer that one man was going under. He reacted instantly, jumped in, and pulled the man to safety. Afterwards, I did a lot of soul searching. Should I have put down my cameras altogether and just grabbed hold of whoever I could? That evening I discussed it with the rescuers, who felt I’d done the right thing. Their job was to rescue lives. Mine was to document the harsh reality of what’s happening. Everyone survived that day.” (Image: Reuters)
A woman assists an injured person after an incident on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain, March 22, 2017. Toby Melville: “I was on the footpath below the southeast end of the bridge, shooting pictures for the on-going Brexit story. I saw in my peripheral vision a large dark shape around 3-5 metres away come over the parapet and hit the ground approximately 10 metres below. I thought it was a terrible but isolated accident. I immediately called for an ambulance and ran to the top of the steps to try to get help at St Thomas’s, the nearby hospital. While on the phone, I saw a couple more people lying on the pavement amongst debris, covered in blood or unconscious. There were other people scattered along the bridge and pavement in various states of injury and distress. I realised this was not an accident but something premeditated. As the emergency services were on the scene now, I started taking photos along the bridge. I was unsure if danger was still present. I didn’t know a car had been driven into these people. I hadn’t heard any screams, loud engine noises or the gunshots of the armed police shooting and killing the perpetrator of the attack, Khalid Masood. I thought the injured or dead might also have been shot and a gunman might still be on the loose. Armed police arrived and cleared the bridge. I called the office and started filing photographs from the back of the camera, transmitting most of the frames I had shot for the office to choose, edit and crop. A week later I walked back over the bridge, everything was ‘back to normal’, in a way. But the sight of the first victim falling and the sickening thud as he hit the pavement still goes through my mind. I wonder whether I should have transmitted all the frames I shot. The sequence of pictures is hard to look at. I remind myself I was lucky. I had walked over the bridge about a minute before the attack. Others weren’t so fortunate.” (Image: Reuters)
SPLA-IO (SPLA-In Opposition) rebels carry an injured rebel after an assault on government SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) soldiers, on the road between Kaya and Yondu, South Sudan. Goran Tomasevic: “This picture shows how the rebels lacked supplies to treat their wounded. They didn’t even have a stretcher or bandages. This wounded rebel was in severe pain and I had to give him painkillers from my own supply. When rebels attacked the town of Kaya they distributed the few items they had to their men: a ragged strip of red cloth to serve as identification, a packet of biscuits and two ammunition clips per fighter. They ran out of bullets in 40 minutes and government forces counter-attacked, killing several people including American journalist Christopher Allen. Working in South Sudan requires commitment. On that trip, my colleague Siegfried and I crossed several rivers on foot. We worried about falling and getting our equipment wet. To minimise the risk, I distributed two cameras to two rebels and carried the third myself. It was unlikely all three of us would fall into the water. On our way back to the Ugandan border we traveled by motorbike. It rained heavily and the small streams became rivers. The drivers carried the motorbikes on their heads, balancing on underwater ‘bridges’ that were actually fallen trees. We carried our gear at head height to prevent them getting wet. Water came up to our chests. I also worried about crocodiles but thankfully I didn’t see any. One night, we walked in single file through elephant grass in complete darkness. The grass rose above our heads. When we lay down on the ground to rest, it was so cold I started shaking. On the way back, we ran out of water and I couldn’t find my chlorine tablets. We had to drink from swamps, streams and boreholes. Thankfully, nobody got too sick.” (Image: Reuters)
Rescue workers and Mexican soldiers take part in a rescue operation at a collapsed building after an earthquake at the Obrera neighbourhood in Mexico City, Mexico. Carlos Jasso: “I took this photo of rescue workers, soldiers, volunteers and residents trying to retrieve a corpse from the rubble the day after the Sept. 20 earthquake in Mexico City. The atmosphere was extremely emotional as everyone was shocked by their own experiences of the earthquake but desperate to help find people. Everyone was focused on the rescue – removing rubble, moving tractors, making silent gestures in case they could hear voices, bringing food and handing out water. Within the chaos there seemed to be organisation. I got to the front of the rescue scene by accident, I started walking into the chaos and seemed to pass all security, police and army. The feeling I had when I was taking this photo was hope that they would find someone in the rubble alive. My responsibility as a photographer is to portray what is happening and I feel this image portrays the effort, hope, sadness and pain within a community after a natural disaster. When the earthquake happened I was on one of the main streets of downtown Mexico City. I was totally shocked when the ground shook so violently. On the one hand I wanted to continue taking photos and on the other I desperately wanted to get through to my wife on the phone and see my daughter. So I tried to do both – take photos while making my way to my daughter’s school. It was mayhem; buildings had collapsed, cars were abandoned on the street, people were wandering injured and shocked, there were screams about gas leaks… children from the nursery were lined up in cots on the street. Finally I was united with my daughter and wife and then I was able to carry on working.” (Image: Reuters)

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The most complete mammoth head ever found

The Little Prince