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.

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