Photo of Gay Russian Lovers Wins World Press Photo of the Year

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A gay couple in Russia. Life is becoming increasingly difficult in the country for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination, harassment, and hate-crime attacks. (First prize, contemporary issues.) Photo: Mads Nissen, Denmark, Scanpix/Panos Pictures.
Wei, a 19-year-old Chinese factory worker, standing next to Christmas decorations that are drying. He uses six masks a day and wears the hat to protect his hair from the red powder used for coloring the factory’s products. (Second prize, contemporary issues, singles.) Photo: Ronghui Chen, China, City Express.
Students in a schoolyard in El Dorado County, in California, are photographed from a drone. Thousands of people have been killed by American drone strikes abroad over the past decade, a fact that inspired the photographer to buy a drone and to mount a camera on it. He traveled across the United States to photograph situations similar to those that have appeared in news reports of drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, including weddings, funerals and groups of people praying or exercising. He also flew his camera over prisons, oil fields and the border with Mexico. (Third prize, contemporary issues, stories.) Photo: Tomas van Houtryve, Belgium, VII for Harper’s Magazine.
The Italian Navy rescued survivors of a shipwreck 20 miles north of Libya. After hundreds of men, women and children drowned in 2013 off the islands of Sicily and Malta, the Italian government assigned its navy to help rescue refugees at sea, in a campaign called “Mare Nostrum.” In 2014 alone, 170,081 people were rescued and taken to Italy. (Second prize, general news, single.) Photo: Massimo Sestini, Italy.
A kitchen in Donetsk, Ukraine, one of the centers of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military. (First prize, general news, singles.) Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky, Russia, European Pressphoto Agency.
A girl in Ankara, the Turkish capital, is pictured after clashes between the riot police and protesters honoring Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old who died from injuries sustained during antigovernment demonstrations. Riot police officers fired tear gas and used water cannons against the Ankara protesters. (First prize, spot news, singles.) Photo: Bulent Kilic, Turkey, AFP.
A girl called Laurinda waited in Moree, Australia, for a bus to take her to Sunday School. She is among many socially isolated young women in disadvantaged communities in the country facing entrenched poverty, racism and violence. (First prize, portraits, singles.) Photo: Raphaela Rosella, Australia, Oculi.
Antigovernment demonstrators erected barricades in Independence Square, the central area of Kiev, Ukraine, known as the Maidan. (Second prize, spot news, stories.) Photo: Jérôme Sessini, France, Magnum Photos for De Standaard.
Odell Beckham of the New York Giants makes a one-handed touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Second prize, sports singles.) Photo: All Bello, US, AP Photos/Getty Images.
Glenna Gordon. School uniforms belonging to three of the kidnapped Chibok girls.
School uniforms found in a dormitory in northern Nigeria from which hundreds of girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in April. (Second prize, general news, stories.) Photo: Glenna Gordon, US.

A portrait of a gay Russian couple embracing has won the 58th annual award for World Press Photo of the year. The dramatically lit image is the work of Danish photographer Mads Nissen, and appeared in a photo essay responding to the 2013 passage of Russia’s heavily criticized anti-gay laws.

The World Press Photo foundation was founded in Amsterdam in 1955, and offers a grand prize of  €10,000 ($11,380) and a professional Canon DSLR camera and lens, with €1,500 ($1,700) going to the first place winners in each category.

Though many of the entries capture dramatic scenes and historic moments—Nissen is a photojournalist for Denmark’s Politiken newspaper—juror Patrick Baz, an experienced war photographer, defended the winning image’s subtlety, telling the New York Times that “photographers can always find a story right across the street” and that “you don’t have to go to war [and] be elbow to elbow with a dozen photographers doing the same thing.”

Nissen’s image passed one test that many entries failed: 20 percent of finalists were disqualified for being too heavily retouched. Other winners included Ronghui Chen’s photo of a worker at a Christmas decoration factory in Yiwi, China, which came in second for contemporary issues (see Discover Yiwu, China’s Christmas Village), and Glenna Gordon‘s images of the personal effects of the Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, which took second place in general news behind Pete Muller’s photographs of West Africa’s Ebola crisis.

For more of artnet News’s coverage of photography awards see Journalism Prize for Photo of China’s President With Umbrella, Stunning Snapshots Vying for the 2015 World Photography Awards, These Award-Winning iPhone Photos Are Very Impressive, and American Michael Nichols Is Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

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