Last year was a great one for Agence France-Presse photographer Bulent Kilic. For this work in 2014, he was named Wire Photographer of the Year by TIME and by The Guardian, he won First Place in the Pictures of the Year International competition, and has now bagged the first and third prizes in the Spot News Singles category at World Press Photo, the most prestigious photojournalism contest.
Kilic’s winning image was the moody and powerful portrait of a girl wounded during clashes between riot police and protestors in Istanbul in March 2014. Just days before he shot that image, Kilic had come back from two months of reporting in Ukraine. He had planned to take a few days off to rest. That’s when a 15-year-old Turkish boy, Berkin Elvan, who had been in a coma after being hit by a gas canister during street protests in June of 2013, died. “I felt that I needed to shoot this situation,” Kilic told TIME. “It was my responsibility, and I didn’t ask for any time off and just went to photograph the boy’s funeral.”
Those photos helped defined the 35-year-old photographer as one of the best wire photographers of 2014 – a distinction only made stronger in October when he captured, in a series of four photos, an airstrike on Islamic State militants on the Tilsehir hill in Syria near the Turkish border. One of these frames won Kilic Third Prize in the Spot News Singles category at this year’s World Press Photo.
“A lot of people ask me if it was easy to see these people killed in front of me. They ask me if I felt something,” Kilic told TIME. “It wasn’t easy. But this is war, and these people are also killing other people. Sometimes, you can’t really feel anything. Sometimes, you don’t want to talk about it.”