23 Jul 2015

The world's most stunning press photos

5:54 pm on 23 July 2015

Currently in its 58th year, the World Press Photo Exhibition collects together some of the most powerful images taken around the world.

It exhibits them at 100 different locations worldwide, including New Zealand, showcasing stories that made international headlines alongside others that risk slipping below the radar.

First Prize Contemporary Issues, Singles

First Prize Contemporary Issues, Singles Photo: Mads Nissen, Denmark, Scanpix/Panos Pictures

This year's winning photo was taken by Danish photographer Mads Nissen for the daily Politiken. It shows a peaceful, intimate moment between Jon and Alex, a gay couple living in St Petersburg.

Sexual minorities in Russia risk legal and social discrimination, harassment, and even violent hate-crimes.

A 2013 survey found that 74 percent of Russians said that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

Second Prize Contemporary Issues Category, Singles

Second Prize Contemporary Issues Category, Singles Photo: Ronghui Chen, China, City Express

Wei, a 19-year-old Chinese worker, works in a factory in eastern China that produces Christmas decorations.

He wears a Santa hat to protect his hair from the red powder that hovers around him, which he uses to coat polystyrene snowflakes, and gets through six face masks a day.

The town produces 60 percent of the world's Christmas decorations, largely employing rural migrants like Wei, who moved 1500 kilometres for the job.

He isn't entirely sure what Christmas is.

Second Prize General News Category, Single

Second Prize General News Category, Single Photo: Massimo Sestini, Italy

Twenty-five kilometres from the Libyan coast, shipwrecked refugees are rescued by the Italian navy working as part of a search-and-rescue campaign.

The Italian government launched the campaign - Operation Mare Nostrum (OMN) - after the deaths of hundreds of migrants off the coast of Sicily and Malta. Over 170,000 people were rescued by OMN in 2014.

First Prize General News Category, Stories

First Prize General News Category, Stories Photo: Pete Muller, USA, Prime for National Geographic / The Washington Post

The Ebola virus has killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa since December 2013.

Medical staff in Sierra Leone's Freetown are pictured here at work trying to escort a patient, delirious in the advanced stages of the virus, back to the isolation ward from which he had escaped. He died shortly after the picture was taken.

First Prize General News Category, Singles

First Prize General News Category, Singles Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky, Russia, European Pressphoto Agency

Damaged goods on a kitchen table in downtown Donetsk, on 26 August 2014, a day where several districts of the city came under artillery fire from government troops, leaving three dead.

The conflict, which began in late 2013 after then-president Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a deal with the EU in favour of stronger ties with Russia, has led to mass protests in Kiev.

Threats of separatism between the west and the Russian-speaking east of the country are ongoing.

Second Prize Daily Life Category, Singles

Second Prize Daily Life Category, Singles Photo: Åsa Sjöström, Sweden, Moment Agency / INSTITUTE for Socionomen / UNICEF

Nine-year-old Igor gives out chocolate to a classmate to celebrate his birthday in Baroncea, Moldova.

One third of Moldova's working population has left the country to find employment elsewhere, leaving thousands of children growing up with elderly relatives and in orphanages.

Igor's mother died after moving to Moscow to work in the construction field seven years ago. He and his twin brother Arthur have no father.

The exhibition runs through to 26 July in Auckland at Smith & Caughey on Queen Street, before heading to Wellington from 19 September to 11 October, at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

An overview of all the winning photos is available here.