An image of an elderly woman being embraced by a healthcare worker in Brazil during the coronavirus pandemic has won the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year award.
Judges on Thursday described Mads Nissen’s photograph as an “iconic image of COVID-19” that memorialises “the most extraordinary moment of our lives, everywhere”.
“I read vulnerability, loved ones, loss and separation, demise, but, importantly, also survival – all rolled into one graphic image,” said Kevin Wy Lee, photographer, creative director and 2021 Photo Contest jury member about the winning photo, titled The First Embrace. “If you look at the image long enough, you’ll see wings: a symbol of flight and hope.”
The awards by World Press Photo Foundation recognised photographers for the best pictures contributing to the past year of visual journalism, covering the COVID-19 pandemic, the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Joumana El Zein Khoury, executive director of the World Press Photo Foundation, said 2020 was a “difficult year” for journalism, adding that the awards honoured “the visual storytellers that put their lives at risk to present us with important stories about our world”.
We take a look at a selection of this year’s celebrated images: