Here are the highlights from World Press Photo, an annual showcase of the best in visual journalism. The travelling exhibit is held at Toronto’s Brookfield Place, Sept. 30 – Oct. 21, 2014 . I love this location because it is a public thoroughfare and as such presents is an opportunity for the work to garner a wide and, at times, unlikely audience. The images range from poignant moments that pass quietly under the radar to stories ripped straight from the headlines, and some come with a ‘graphic content’ warning.
KACHIN FIGHTERS, Julius Schrank. Laiza, Kachin, Burma.
Soldiers of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) drink and sing together at a funeral for one of their commanders, in the city of Laiza, in Kachin State, northern Burma (Myanmar). The city was under siege by the Burmese military. The Kachin rebellion was one of a number of ethnic uprisings that surfaced after the military junta, which had ruled the country for more than 40 years, began to ease its grip and make moves towards democracy. Kachin State had been given semi-autonomous status soon after Burma regained its independence in 1948. In the 1960s the Kachin launched an insurgency against the central government of Myanmar, demanding greater independence. A ceasefire was brokered in 1994, but the KIA refused to give up arms entirely, and maintained some bases in the jungle. Conflict broke out again in 2011.
HEALING BOBBY, Peter Van Agtmael. Humble, Texas, USA.
Bobby Henline (42) was the sole survivor when the humvee in which he was traveling was blown up, during his fourth tour to Iraq, on 7 April 2007. Bones in his face fractured, burns covered close to 40 percent of his body, and his left hand later had to be amputated. During the recovery process, he kept up the spirits of other wounded soldiers by telling jokes, and his therapist encouraged him to take up stand-up comedy. He now makes a living as a comedian, with a routine that focuses on his own injuries.
LAST OF THE VIKINGS, Marcus Bleasdale. Røst, Lofoten, Norway.
The fishing community on the Lofoten islands of northwestern Norway is slowly diminishing, as their way of life is dying out. A traditional economy based on small-scale, sustainable whaling, and fishing from family-owned boats, is no longer viable. Whaling—which the islanders practice legally under an international dispensation, as an historically and culturally important industry—is a physically demanding and at times dangerous occupation. Costs are high and financial returns low, as there is no export demand for whale meat, and many Norwegians consider it Depression-era or eco-unfriendly food. Other fishing activity is being taken over by larger companies using trawlers, rather than small, family-owned boats. The younger generation is opting for safer, salaried work, away from the islands, often in the oil industry or tourism.
ESCAPE, Danila Tkachenko. Russia.
A man who has opted to withdraw from conventional society and live as a hermit in isolated natural surrounds.
TYPHOON HAIYAN, Chris McGrath. Leyte, Philippines.
Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Vasayas region of central Philippines, on 8 November. It was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, claiming over 6,200 lives and displacing more than four million people. The eastern islands of Leyte and Samar were the worst affected, with storm surges, high winds and torrential rain causing catastrophic damage to homes and infrastructure. The extent of the destruction meant relief work was slow.
MASSACRE AT WESTGATE MALL, Tyler Hicks. Nairobi, Kenya.
On 21 September, masked gunmen opened fire at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall. The upmarket mall was popular among expats and the Kenyan elite. In a siege that lasted four days, at least 60 people died and up to 200 were injured. The four main perpetrators of the attack were killed, and a number of other men were later tried as accomplices. The four gunmen were all of Somali origin. The Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a warning to Kenya to pull its troops out of Somalia, where they were part of an African Union peacekeeping force in conflict with the militants.
BLIND INDIAN ALBINO BOYS, Brent Stirton. West Bengal, India.
Blind albino students stand in a dorm at the Vivekananda Mission School, a boarding school for the blind. The school teaches vital skills to blind children from underprivileged backgrounds, who might otherwise have to beg for a living.
DAYS OF NIGHT – NIGHTS OF DAY, Elena Chernyshova. Norilsk, Russia.
Norilsk, in northern Russia, is (after Murmansk) the second-largest city within the Arctic Circle, with a population of over 175,300. It is also one of the ten most polluted cities in the world. Rich metal and mineral deposits make the region a primary global source of such commodities as nickel, cobalt, platinum and palladium, and Norilsk maintains the biggest metallurgical and mining complex in the world. Norilsk was founded in the 1930s as a factory-city, and until 1953 operated as a Soviet Gulag. During its years as a prison camp, some 17,000 people died in conditions of intense cold, starvation, and forced labor, on the mines and during the construction of the city itself. Norilsk endures an extremely harsh climate, with temperatures dropping below -50°C in the winter, and rising into the high 20s or 30s in the brief summer months. The city is covered in snow for 250-270 days a year, and experiences polar night from December to mid-January, when the sun does not rise above the horizon.
UTRISH, Nikita Shokhov. Utrish, Russia
Utrish national park, on the northern shores of the Black Sea, has been a favorite spot for nudists since the 1960s. Nudism was frowned upon by Soviet society, but there was a resurgence in naturist clubs and beaches after the collapse of the Soviet Union.