In 2015, TIME sent photographers to Chechnya, Croatia, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, France, Gaza, Germany, Greece, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Syria, Turkey and Vietnam, as well as across the U.S. to cover the world’s biggest stories. Those photographers brought back an impressive array of heart-wrenching, surprising and emotional images.
From the continuing conflict in parts of Ukraine to the devastating Nepalese earthquake, and from diamond mining in Congo to the terror attacks in Paris, TIME photographers highlighted, once again, the importance of photography in these trying times.
For example, contract photographer James Nachtwey crisscrossed the world to report on tragic humanitarian crises in Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal and parts of Europe, producing stunning and poignant images that are sure to become iconic in the months and years to come.
In Iran, Newsha Tavakolian captured the subtle dynamics of her home country, which is now at a crossroads following its landmark nuclear deal with the U.S. and the rest of the world.
And, in September, TIME sent six photographers across Europe to document the unprecedented refugee and migrant crisis as more than 900,000 people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other countries, reached European shores in hope of finding better lives.
As 2015 comes to an end, we take a look back at these photographers’ stellar work.
A Donald Trump rally in Sarasota, Fla., on Nov. 28, 2015.From "Person of the Year." December 21, 2015 issue. Landon Nordeman for TIME An asylum seeker prays on the floor of a shelter in Prenzlauer Berg, a locality in northeastern Berlin. Some 200 refugees were housed in less than two hours by German volunteers.From "Person of the Year." December 21, 2015 issue. Yuri Kozyrev for TIME Used by the Nazis and once one of the world's largest buildings, today Berlin's Tempelhof airport is being used as a major shelter for asylum seekers.From "Person of the Year." December 21, 2015 issue. Harf Zimmermann for TIME Parisians congregate at a makeshift memorial at Place de la Republique to mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks that stroke France capital city on the night of November 13, 2015. Paris, Nov. 16, 2015.From "See the Heartbreaking Portraits of Parisians in Mourning" William Daniels—Panos Pictures Armed police take aim in Paris' Place de la République during a false alarm on Nov. 15 after terrorist attacks struck the capital city on the night of November 13, 2015. From "See the Heartbreaking Portraits of Parisians in Mourning" William Daniels—Panos Pictures An Iranian woman walks through a haze of smoke caused by the burning of the herb esfand. According to popular belief, this ritual drives away the evil eye.From "See Iran Coming Out of the Shadows" Newsha Tavakolian—Magnum for TIME Iranian paramilitary Baseej forces reenact the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) in the south of Tehran. From "See Iran Coming Out of the Shadows" Newsha Tavakolian—Magnum for TIME Michl Binderbauer, Tri Alpha Energy's CTO, near the core of his firm's fusion reactor in Foothill Ranch, California, October 18, 2015.From "A Star Is Born." November 2, 2015 issue. Vincent Fournier for TIME General Fusion's fusion compression system appears in their Burnaby, Canada laboratory, October 19, 2015.From "A Star Is Born." November 2, 2015 issue. Vincent Fournier for TIME The Ferry-Dusika-Hallenstadion is an indoor arena in Vienna. This is one of the many venues used as temporary shelter for many refugees on their way to Germany.From "These Photos Show the Long Waits Endured by Refugees in Europe"
Massimo Vitali for TIME A migrant walks towards shore in Lesbos, Greece after swimming from the inflatable boat he had taken in the crossing from Turkey, Sept. 27, 2015.From "James Nachtwey: The Journey of Hope
" James Nachtwey for TIME A man walks with his son behind him as they make their way to the train station in Tovarnik, Croatia, on the border with Serbia. In the Balkans, many migrants began traveling by foot, echoing more ancient journeys, Sept. 17, 2015.From "James Nachtwey: The Journey of Hope
" James Nachtwey for TIME A police officer screams at refugees as they attempt to board a train in Tovarnik, Croatia, Sept. 17, 2015.From "James Nachtwey: The Journey of Hope
" James Nachtwey for TIME Refugees plead with police officers to let members of their families board the train in Tovarnik, Croatia, Sept. 17, 2015.From "James Nachtwey: The Journey of Hope
" James Nachtwey for TIME Pope Francis blesses an unidentified child in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Sept, 24, 2015.From "Photographing the Pope From a Different Vantage Point" Tobias Hutzler for TIME A crowd gathers on the the South Lawn of the White House during the arrival ceremony of Pope Francis. Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2015.From "Photographing the Pope From a Different Vantage Point"
Tobias Hutzler—Tobias Hutzler for TIME The arrival of Pope Francis at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 22, 2015.From "Photographing the Pope From a Different Vantage Point" Tobias Hutzler for TIME A boat full of migrants is illuminated by the flashlights of Greek coast guards who have come to rescue them from the waters near the Greek-Turkish border. Sept. 6, 2015.From "One Night on Migrant Patrol With the Greek Coast Guard" Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME A beach on the Greek island of Lesbos is festooned with orange life jackets and deflated rafts abandoned by migrants who are coming ashore near the village of Skala Sikamineas after navigating the 6-mile crossing from Turkey on inflatable rafts. Between 2,000 and 3,500 migrants now reach the island daily, riding on about 100 inflatable rafts. Sept., 2015.From "Witness the Resilience of Thousands of Refugees on Their Way to Europe" Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME Dr. Arghavan Salles (Center) and Dr. Adela Garland (Left) in the operating room. Dr. Salles is on the phone canceling her dinner plans with her mother as the surgery has been prolonged by hours as a larger than expected tumor was discovered inside the patient.From "See the Grueling Life of an American Surgeon" Balazs Gardi for TIME Congolese workers search for rough diamonds Kangambala mine in Lunged, in the south west region of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the heart of the diamond mining area in the DRC, August 9, 2015.From "Inside the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Diamond Mines" Lynsey Addario—Getty Images Reportage for TIME Congolese workers search for rough diamonds Kangambala mine in Lunged, in the south west region of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the heart of the diamond mining area in the DRC, August 9, 2015.From "Inside the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Diamond Mines" Lynsey Addario—Getty Images Reportage for TIME Officers Paul Watson, right, and his partner Officer Richard O'Brien make a traffic stop as neighbors look on. After the police searched his car, the man was released. July 29, 2015. Philadelphia, Pa.From "This Photographer Shows What It Means to Be a Cop Today" Natalie Keyssar for TIME A suspected gang member in a crowded jail in San Salvador, on June 11, 2015.From "Inside El Salvador’s ‘War Without Sense’" Patrick Tombola—LAIF A police officer from a special unit patrols the streets of San Salvador, on May 21, 2015.From "Inside El Salvador’s ‘War Without Sense’" Patrick Tombola—LAIF Malaysian Navy officers pray on a navy ship out of Langkawi, an island in the Andaman Sea. They are on routine patrol looking for boats with Rohingya refugees in waters neighboring Thailand.From "The Plight of the Rohingya by James Nachtwey" James Nachtwey for TIME A Rohingya child is registered at a temporary shelter in Indonesia.From "The Plight of the Rohingya by James Nachtwey" James Nachtwey for TIME Young Buddhist monks gaze out of a helicopter as they are evacuated by the Indian army from a monastery in the Himalayas, May 2, 2015.From "James Nachtwey’s Latest Dispatches From Nepal" James Nachtwey for TIME Bishnu Gurung sobs after her 3-year-old daughter, Rejina Gurung, was found buried in the rubble in the village of Gumda in Gorkha district, near the epicenter of last month's Nepal earthquake, on May 8, 2015. The baby’s father is a guest worker in Malaysia.From "James Nachtwey’s Latest Dispatches From Nepal" James Nachtwey for TIME A Syrian government soldier fires a heavy machine gun at ISIS positions on the other side of a street in Deir-ez Zor, May 18, 2015.From "Besieged by ISIS: Photographs From Inside the Syrian City of Deir ez-Zor" Contact Press Images Worshipers leave evening prayer at the Heart of Chechnya Mosque in Grozny, April 2015.From "Yuri Kozyrev: Photographing 15 Years of Chechnya’s Troubled History" Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME Women walk past a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the late President of Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, the father of Chechnya's current leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, Throughout the region, portraits of Putin and the Kadyrovs are plastered on the facades of buildings and along highways, Grozny, Chechnya, April 2015.From "Yuri Kozyrev: Photographing 15 Years of Chechnya’s Troubled History" Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME Tran Thien Nhan is bathed by his mother. Doctors believe his developmental deformities are due to his father's exposure to dioxins used in the Vietnam War.From "Vietnam Looks Forward." April 20, 2015 TIME International issue. James Nachtwey for TIME People stand on top of a damaged building in Durbar Square in Kathmandu, April 26, 2015. The historic Durbar Square, a UNESCO world heritage site, was severely damaged in the earthquake.From "Witness the Aftermath of Nepal’s Devastating Earthquake"
Adam Ferguson for TIME Nazreen Khatoon winces in pain as she lies gravely ill, suffering from severe postpartum anemia at the Tezpur Civil Hospital in Tezpur, Assam, India. April 2015. From "Where Childbirth Can Mean Death" Lynsey Addario—Getty Images Reportage Border Patrol agents search for a group of migrants hiding amid and dunes in South Texas. The migrants were avoiding the interior checkpoint located in Sarita, Texas, on Rt. 77 North to San Antonio.From "‘The Corridor of Death': Along America’s Second Border" Kirsten Luce for TIME Ukrainian soldiers conduct operations along the road in Artemivsk, Ukraine, Feb.15, 2015.From "Go Inside the Frozen Trenches of Eastern Ukraine"
Ross McDonnell Newlyweds ride in a vintage American car through the streets of Guira de Melena. In this prosperous area outside Havana, weddings can cost as much as $20,000.From "Take a Walk Through the Streets of Cuba" Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME The National Cuban Capitol Building in Havana is seen during restoration work.From "Take a Walk Through the Streets of Cuba" Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME Young girls play on the grounds of the Arcos building, an iconic building in the El Vedado neighborhood of Havana.From "Take a Walk Through the Streets of Cuba" Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME A Palestinian man prays in a Gaza neighborhood destroyed during the war last year between Hamas and Israel.From "The Path to Peace." January 19, 2015 issue. Peter van Agtmael—Magnum for TIME Two miners at the Chelyuskintsev coal mine wait for an elevator that will take them to the bottom of the deepest shaft. They are still operating despite the mine enduring constant shelling from Ukrainian army artillery, besieging the city. Petrovskyi district, Donetsk, Ukraine. Nov. 28, 2014.From "Beneath the Front Lines of the War in Eastern Ukraine" Jerome Sessini—Magnum/ Time/ De Standaard