If World Press Photo assigned a theme to their annual competition, this year’s might have been “Tragedy.” Death, imminent death, fear, loss, pain—these are the true subjects of the images that won this year’s top prizes, highlighted, at the very top, by a photo of an assassin brandishing a murder weapon.

Editor’s Note: Some of the winning images may be too graphic for work and too disturbing for some viewers. Proceed with caution.

The 2017 World Press Photo Contest winners were announced early this morning, and immediately people began criticizing WPP for their choice of Photo of the Year:

Photo credit: Burhan Ozbilici

The instantly iconic photo was taken in Ankara, Turkey by Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici moments after an off-duty police officer shot and killed Russian ambassador Andrey G. Karlov. The assassin is seen screaming at onlookers.

World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering told the NY Times that even the WPP jury was “quite split” on this particular image, but that, in his opinion, it is the right choice. This sentiment was echoed by jury member Mary F. Calvert, who said, “It was a very very difficult decision, but in the end we felt that the picture of the Year was an explosive image that really spoke to the hatred of our times.”

Others disagree with the choice, although nondisclosure agreements keep the jurors from speaking out too harshly against the decision. Still, Stuart Franklin, the jury’s chairman and a Magnum Photos member, told the Times he did not vote for the image, because he was afraid it somehow “amplif[ied] a terrorist message.” That is likely the most mildly-worded criticism of the choice you’ll read all day.

Winner’s controversy aside, all of the photographs that earned high honors in this year’s World Press Photo competition were certainly deserving of praise. Here are the rest of the winning photos, organized by category:

Contemporary Issues

Photo credit: Jonathan Bachman

Daily Life

Photo credit: Paula Bronstein

General News

Photo credit: Laurent Va der Stockt

Long-Term Projects

Photo credit: Valery Melnikov


Photo credit: Francis Pérez


Photo credit: Magnus Wennman


Photo credit: Tom Jenkins

Spot News

Photo credit: Jamal Taraqai

Each category—except long-term projects—awards six prizes: 3 to individual photos and 3 to photo stories. Long-term projects awards only 3 stories. To see all of the winners and read the story behind each image, head over to the World Press Photo 2017 winners collection page by clicking here.

Image credits: All photographs courtesy of World Press Photo.

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