The winners of this year’s World Press Photo Contest covered a range of vital issues, including the Israel-Hamas war, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change, health care, poverty, drought and conservation.

The photographers’ images convey the weight of these issues by capturing compelling individual stories, from a family in Madagascar struggling to navigate a dementia diagnosis to migrants who fell in love en route to a new life in America.

“Each year, jurors from all over the globe review tens of thousands of photos to find a selection that is visually stunning, tells stories that matter and represents our shared world,” says Joumana El Zein Khoury, executive director of World Press Photo, in a statement. “This year’s selection includes stories of desperation, hunger, war and loss—but also of perseverance, courage, love, family, dreams and more butterflies than anyone has a right to expect.”

Founded in 1955, World Press Photo is a nonprofit that has been recognizing talented photojournalists and documentary photographers for nearly 70 years. This year’s contest was open only to professional photographers working in journalism or documentary photography. Submissions were divided into six regions worldwide, each with four categories: Singles, Stories, Long-Term Projects and Open Format.

The winning photos were chosen from 61,062 entries by 3,851 photographers in 130 countries. On April 3, World Press Photo announced 24 regional winners. From that pool, judges selected four global winners, which were revealed today.

Below, see this year’s global winners and a selection of work by the regional winners.

World Press Photo Story of the Year

Dada Paul and his granddaughter Odliatemix get ready for church. © Lee-Ann Olwage, for GEO
Fara Rafaraniriana walks to church on Sunday morning with her daughter, Odliatemix, and her father, Dada Paul. © Lee-Ann Olwage, for GEO
Fara looks on as Dada Paul cleans a fish, as he does every Sunday afternoon. © Lee-Ann Olwage, for GEO
Fara and her daughter Odliatemix lie together on the bed they share with Dada Paul. Fara is the sole provider for the family of three. © Lee-Ann Olwage, for GEO

By the time he was photographed, Paul Rakotozandriny had been showing signs of dementia for more than a decade—but for most of those years, nobody knew what was happening to him.

It was his daughter Fara who realized Rakotozandriny (known as “Dada Paul”) might be suffering from a diagnosable medical condition, though she was unfamiliar with words like “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s.” All she knew was that her father was a retired chauffeur who could no longer make his way home.

The family was eventually routed to Masoandro Mody, the only group that supports dementia patients and their families in Madagascar, where the condition is not widely understood. Meanwhile, “as life expectancy rises, dementia is becoming an issue globally,” writes World Press Photo.

Photographer Lee-Ann Olwage’s award-winning photo story is called Valim-babena, a Malagasy term that refers to children’s duty to care for their parents. Her images show Rakotozandriny and his family as they navigate their new reality—getting ready to go out, resting at home, walking to church.

“This story tackles a universal health issue through the lens of family and care,” write the contest judges. “The selection of images are composed with warmth and tenderness, reminding viewers of the love and closeness necessary in a time of war and aggression worldwide. The story of Valim-babena brings to light a crucial sociological perspective that challenges the cross-cultural isolation of the elderly, instead portraying them with dignity and care.”

World Press Photo of the Year

A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece
Inas Abu Maamar, 36, cradles the body of her niece Saly, 5, who was killed, along with four other family members, when an Israeli missile struck their home. © Mohammed Salem, Palestine, Reuters

In the early weeks of the Israel-Hamas war, Inas Abu Maamar learned that a missile had hit a family member’s home in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza. She found the body of her 5-year-old niece, Saly, at the morgue.

Photographer Mohammed Salem’s A Palestinian Woman Embraces the Body of Her Niece captures this moment, though both of the subjects’ faces are hidden from view. The young girl’s mother and sister were also killed in the attack, though her 4-year-old brother, Ahmed, survived. He is now living with Inas.

“It was a powerful and a sad moment, and I felt the picture sums up the broader sense of what was happening in the Gaza Strip,” Salem tells Reuters. “People were confused, running from one place to another, anxious to know the fate of their loved ones, and this woman caught my eye as she was holding the body of the little girl and refused to let go.”

World Press Photo Long-Term Project Award

A migrant walks atop a freight train known as “The Beast.” © Alejandro Cegarra, Venezuela, The New York Times / Bloomberg
Ever Sosa (center) carries his daughter on his shoulders as they cross the Suchiate River from Guatemala to Mexico, joining a caravan of 3,000 migrants and asylum seekers attempting to get to the United States. © Alejandro Cegarra, Venezuela, The New York Times / Bloomberg
Ruben Soto (right), a migrant from Venezuela, sits with Rosa Bello, a Honduran migrant, on top of a freight train known as “The Beast.” Ruben and Rosa met in Mexico and fell in love on their way to the United States. © Alejandro Cegarra, Venezuela, The New York Times / Bloomberg

Photographer Alejandro Cegarra migrated from Venezuela to Mexico in 2017. About a year later, he started photographing migrant communities for a project called The Two Walls.

For asylum seekers who can’t afford to pay smugglers, cargo trains are another way to cross the United States border, though traveling in this manner is extremely dangerous. Some of Cegarra’s photos capture this journey, showing groups of migrants atop a freight train nicknamed “The Beast.” One of these images captures Rosa Bello, a migrant from Honduras, and Ruben Soto, a migrant from Venezuela. The couple fell in love on the way to their new life in the U.S.

“This project is an example of dynamic, world-class storytelling,” write the contest judges. “The images are at once unsparing and respectful, and convey the intimate emotions present in diverse migrant journeys. The concern of migration resonates across the region, and the jury felt that this photographer’s own positionality as a migrant afforded a sensitive, human-centered perspective that centers the agency and resilience of migrants.”

World Press Photo Open Format Award

A recruit during training © Julia Kochetova, Ukraine
A teenager with a Ukrainian flag © Julia Kochetova, Ukraine
A sunflower lies in a field. © Julia Kochetova, Ukraine

“I wish these photos never exist[ed],” writes photographer Julia Kochetova. “But war will start again and again, and we all are searching for the antidote. Why to remember something [do] we always need a scar?”

These words are featured at the top of Kochetova’s website, part of a project called War Is Personal. The site combines photos, text messages, audio clips, music, poetry, children’s drawings and more to examine the war in Ukraine, which began in early 2022. Now that the public has grown accustomed to seeing dispatches from the war, Kochetova’s diary-like format aims to personalize the conflict’s toll.

This project is the winner of World Press Photo’s Open Format category, which encourages “innovative techniques, non-traditional modes of presentation and new approaches to storytelling.”

Regional Winner: Africa, Long-Term Projects

A new generation of electronic music groups form dynamic collectives, organizing raves and providing Tunisian youth with a platform for free expression. © Zied Ben Romdhane, Magnum Photos, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, AIM LAB
A young man bounces off a fence-post in a soccer field in Gafsa, a region crucial to the Tunisian economy for its phosphate mines and marked by high youth unemployment.  © Zied Ben Romdhane, Magnum Photos, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, AIM LAB
A young man dives into the sea at Bizerte, Tunisia. © Zied Ben Romdhane, Magnum Photos, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, AIM LAB

In 2011, protesters ousted the longtime government of Tunisia—and the uprising ultimately sparked the Arab Spring. But the years that followed were marked by “political instability, persistent economic crises and social inequality,” per World Press Photo.

The Escape, a series by photographer Zied Ben Romdhane, focuses on the challenges faced by the country’s young people. The project was an attempt to capture the “general malaise” he’s noticed among this group.

“I feel that these young people are trying to escape from the harsh and challenging reality, which is why the photos convey a dreamlike or parallel Tunisia,” Ben Romdhane tells Magnum Photos. “Those who are unable to physically leave the country do so mentally or spiritually. However, there’s also a pervasive sense of uncertainty in this world, [where] illusions and mirages abound. The vacant gazes suggest that these young people are almost hypnotized, or numb to their trauma and pains, lacking reactions.”

Regional Winner: Asia, Open Format

Masaharu Taniguchi and his wife view the cherry blossoms in full bloom. © Kazuhiko Matsumura, for The Kyoto Shimbun
An ambiguous sun low in the sky near Atsushi Shimosaka’s home in Kyoto, Japan © Kazuhiko Matsumura, for The Kyoto Shimbun
Masaharu sits in his living room surrounded by photos of his wife Kimiko and caretakers. © Kazuhiko Matsumura, for The Kyoto Shimbun

Japan has one of the world’s highest dementia rates among its elderly population, according to World Press Photo. By 2025, experts predict that some seven million Japanese citizens will be experiencing symptoms of the condition.

Much like Valim-babena, Japanese photographer Kazuhiko Matsumura’s Heartstrings examines dementia’s heavy toll. The project is divided into several distinct sections, each focused on one family. It aims to portray both individual experiences and larger cultural themes.

One particularly moving image shows Masaharu Taniguchi and his wife, who was living with dementia, as they look out on cherry blossoms in full bloom. “After that day, my wife changed,” says Taniguchi, per a statement. “She showed her smile more often and talked more. We were even able to take walks around the botanical gardens and parks, and I felt the joy of living with my wife.”

Regional Winner: Europe, Stories

A volunteer rescues cats in the flooded harbor district. © Johanna Maria Fritz, Ostkreuz, for Die Zeit
An overview of a flooded area of Kherson, taken from a tower block © Johanna Maria Fritz, Ostkreuz, for Die Zeit
Volunteers Viktor and Oleksandr help evacuate Maria and her daughter Svitlana from their home. © Johanna Maria Fritz, Ostkreuz, for Die Zeit

In the summer of 2023, the Kakhovka Dam in southeastern Ukraine collapsed, with many experts ultimately concluding that Russian forces had blown it up from the inside. The disaster caused devastating flooding, killing hundreds and damaging thousands of homes.

In Kakhovka Dam: Flood in a War Zone, German photographer Johanna-Maria Fritz focuses on the human toll of the dam failure. Her images depict scenes of flooded neighborhoods. Volunteers can be seen navigating the debris in small boats as they conduct recovery efforts.

“The jury was impressed by how these images highlight the environmental impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” write the contest officials. “The project urges viewers to consider the weaponization of the landscape and man-made natural disasters.”

Regional Winner: North and Central America, Open Format

A Gay Space Agency astronaut during flight simulations © Mackenzie Calle
A staged recreation of the original Mercury Seven crew from 1960 © Mackenzie Calle
The cover of a 1950 U.S. Senate report overlaid on an image of mud pots at the Salton Sea, California © Mackenzie Calle

Sally Ride is famously the first American woman to go to space. She is also the first known LGBTQ astronaut, though she was never open about her sexuality during her lifetime.

While several astronauts came out later in life, “NASA has never selected or flown an openly LGBTQ astronaut,” writes photographer Mackenzie Calle on her website. Her project, The Gay Space Agency, imagines an alternative history in which a group of queer aspiring astronauts built their careers through a fictional astronaut program.

“The jury thoroughly enjoyed this creative and witty project, discovering new details and references each time they revisited the images,” write the contest officials. “The photographer skillfully tackles an underrepresented story, using sci-fi elements to highlight the irony of homophobia within the realm of space exploration.

Regional Winner: Southeast Asia and Oceania, Singles

Fighting, Not Sinking
Lotomau Fiafia, 72, a community elder, stands with his grandson John at the point where he remembers the shoreline used to be when he was a boy. © Eddie Jim, The Age / Sydney Morning Herald

Lotomau Fiafia was born on Kioa Island in Fiji in 1952. More than 70 years later, he was still there. The community elder could see the beach from his house, but something was different. “More sand erodes each year,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald last year. “Rain does not come in its right time.”

In Fighting, Not Sinking, photographer Eddie Jim shows Fiafia standing in the ocean with his grandson John. The water comes up to Fiafia’s chest; John, who is about a head shorter than his grandfather, is submerged up to his chin. This is where Fiafia, who died a few months after the photo was taken, said the shoreline used to be.

“I have been asked by the elder Lotomau Fiafia to tell their stories to the outside world on how global warming [is] affecting them and their community,” Jim wrote on Instagram. “I feel like I have finished a mission now, but unfortunately Lotomau is no longer with us. … I hope I am doing [his] community proud.”

Regional Winner: South America, Singles

Drought in the Amazon
A fisherman walks across the dry bed of a branch of the Amazon River. © Lalo de Almeida, for Folha de São Paulo

In 2023, parts of the Amazon experienced an extreme drought—the worst in over a century—caused by the El Niño weather pattern and warming in the North Atlantic Ocean. Communities affected by the drought lost access to drinking water, transportation and other necessities of daily life.

In photographer Lalo de Almeida’s Drought in the Amazon, a lone fisherman is seen walking across the dry bed of the Amazon River in the Tefé region of Brazil, where more than 150 villages had lost access to vital waterways, according to World Press Photo. A barren landscape sprawls out behind him.

“This image encapsulates the undeniable reality of the environmental crisis and drought in the Amazon,” writes the jury. “Organic and captured at the perfect moment, its composition powerfully conveys the gravity of the situation. Standing alone, it serves as a powerful representation of the challenges facing the Amazon and their global effects.”

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