In 2016, TIME commissioned photojournalism across the globe, assigning photographers in Greece, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Nepal, Cuba, Venezuela and the South China Sea. They brought us unforgettable images from the continuing migrant crisis in Europe to the civil war in South Sudan, the collapse of Venezuela and Iraq’s battle against ISIS.
James Nachtwey returned to Greece where the historic migration into Europe pressed on without ease. He documented the influx of Afghan, Syrian and Iraqi refugees to the Greek island of Lesbos and shed light on the squalid conditions in a camp between the Greek and Macedonian borders. Nachtwey also returned to Nepal where he continued his coverage of the the aftermath from 2015’s devastating earthquake.
Lynsey Addario uncovered war crimes in Leer, South Sudan where government forces captured more than 50 men and imprisoned them in a shipping container for 36 hours. Her portrait of the only survivor, a 13-year-old boy, was published on the cover of TIME International’s May 30 issue.
Domestically, Christopher Morris was joined by Landon Nordeman, Ben Lowy, Natalie Keyssar and Dina Litovsky as they followed the campaigns that led to the most polarizing election in recent U.S. history. Ruddy Roye crisscrossed America documenting the moods of Dallas, Baton Rouge, La., and Minneapolis, which were thrown into the spotlight after a string of deaths during a racially charged summer.
As one tumultuous year ends and another begins, TIME looks back at these photographers and their important, evocative and sometimes surprising work.