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Winners announced. These are the best news photographs from the last year

World Press Photo of the Year 2021 - overall winner
World Press Photo of the Year 2021 - overall winner (Image credit: Mads Nissen/Politiken/Panos/WPO)

The World Press Organization has announced the overall winners for this year's World Press Photo Contest. 

The award for World Press Photo of the Year goes to Danish photographer Mads Nissen for his shot "The First Embrace". In the winning image, Rosa Luzia Lunardi (85) is embraced by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza, at Viva Bem care home, São Paulo, Brazil, on 5 August 2020.

Nissen said about his image: “This is a story about hope and love in the most difficult times. When I learned about the crisis that was unfolding in Brazil and the poor leadership of president Bolsonaro who has been neglecting this virus from the very beginning, who’s been calling it ‘a small flu,’ I really felt an urge to do something about it.”

The award for World Press Photo Story of the Year goes to Italian documentary photographer Antonio Faccilongo. His winning series chronicles love stories set against the backdrop of one of the longest and most complicated contemporary conflicts, the Israeli-Palestinian war.

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World Press Photo of the Year 2021 nominee

Gallery: Antonio Faccilongo portfolio of winning images (Image credit: Antonio Faccilongo/Getty Reportage)
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World Press Photo of the Year 2021 nominee

(Image credit: Antonio Faccilongo/Getty Reportage)
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World Press Photo of the Year 2021 nominee

(Image credit: Antonio Faccilongo/Getty Reportage)
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World Press Photo of the Year 2021 nominee

(Image credit: Antonio Faccilongo/Getty Reportage)
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World Press Photo of the Year 2021 nominee

(Image credit: Antonio Faccilongo/Getty Reportage)
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World Press Photo of the Year 2021 nominee

(Image credit: Antonio Faccilongo/Getty Reportage)
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World Press Photo of the Year 2021 nominee

(Image credit: Antonio Faccilongo/Getty Reportage)

The nominations

45 photographers from 28 countries were nominated for in the main photo and portfolio awards, and for the eight genre specific categories

The six nominees for World Press Photo of the Year were:

• Evelyn Hockstein, United States, for The Washington Post, for Emancipation Memorial Debate

• Valery Melnikov, Russia, Sputnik, for Leaving Home in Nagorno-Karabakh

• Mads Nissen, Denmark, Politiken/Panos Pictures, for The First Embrace

• Oleg Ponomarev, Russia for The Transition: Ignat

• Luis Tato, Spain, for The Washington Post, for Fighting Locust Invasion in East Africa

Lorenzo Tugnoli, Italy, Contrasto for The Washington Post for Injured Man After Port Explosion in Beirut

Press Photo of the Year shortlist

(Image credit: Luis Tato/Washington Post/WPO)

(Image credit: Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post/WPO)

(Image credit: Oleg Ponomarev/WPO)

(Image credit: Valery Melnikov/Sputnik/WPO)

(Image credit: Lorenzo Tugnoli_Contrasto/The Washington Post/WPO)

The three nominees for World Press Photo Story of the Year were:

• Chris Donovan, Canada for Those Who Stay Will Be Champions

Antonio Faccilongo, Italy, Getty Reportage for Habibi

Valery Melnikov, Russia, Sputnik for Paradise Lost

The jury also selected nominees in eight categories: Contemporary Issues, General News, Environment, Long-Term Projects, Nature, Spot News, Sports, and Portraits.

In an unprecedented year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice protests around the globe, the nominees share a diversity of interpretations and perspectives to these and other urgent issues such as the climate crisis, transgender people's rights, and territorial conflicts.

The World Press Photo Contest recognizes the best visual journalism of the last year, and for this year, 4,315 photographers from 130 countries entered 74,470 images. 

Other 2021 nominees

(Image credit: Alexey Vasilyev/WPO)

(Image credit: Chris Donovan/WPO)

(Image credit: Gabriele Galimberti/ National Geographic/WPO)

(Image credit: Ciril Jazbec/National Geographic/WPO)

(Image credit: Ralph Pace/WPO)

(Image credit: Jaime Culebras/WPO)

(Image credit: Ami Vitale/CNN/WPO)

Rodrigo Orrantia, curator and 2021 Photo Contest jury member, said about this year’s entries: I think what stood out the most was the variety of approaches to visual storytelling. Photographers in general, but specifically photojournalists and press photographers, are discovering new ways of telling stories visually. Some entries stood out because their visual language was really sophisticated, which is a very exciting change from the classic press photography tradition.”

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2021 will premiere at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 17 April before starting a global tour. See all upcoming exhibitions on the calendar. A book of the winners will be published in May.

The full list of the winners and nominees with extended captions can be seen on the WPO website.

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 


His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.