December 9, 2014 4:00 AM EST

In 2014, TIME’s commitment to photojournalism remained as strong as ever, as the magazine assigned photographers to stories all across the U.S. and in Afghanistan, Brazil, Burma, Central African Republic, Finland, Gaza, Hong Kong, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, the Phillipines, Syria and Ukraine among many other countries.

From the gruesome civil war in Central African Republic to the geopolitical conflict in Ukraine, the devastation in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis in Syria, TIME’s photographers were on the front lines of a particularly violent year, bringing back some of the most compelling images produced over the past 12 months.

There were lighter moments, though, when TIME sent Magnum photographer Alex Majoli on the set of Mad Men, or when Christopher Morris documented this year’s U.S. mid-term elections. And there were moments of hope, as well, when Elinor Carucci of Institute followed the difficult and emotional first days of a premature infant.

2014 also marked James Nachtwey’s 30th anniversary as a contract photographer for TIME. This year, the celebrated photographer recorded the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan and of Rohingya Muslims in Burma. He also witnessed the incredible resilience of protesters in Hong Kong, and the unwavering strength of injured U.S. soldiers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland — proving once more that he remains one of today’s best photojournalists.

No one knows what 2015 will bring — many of this year’s conflicts remain unresolved — but there’s no doubt that these talented photographers and many others like them, will be reporting back.

Read next: TIME Picks the Top 10 Photos of 2014

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