Winners of the 56th World Press Photo contest capture some of the most emotional, devastating, and beautiful images of 2012. The World Press Photo organization's annual contest, now in its 56th year, recognizes the most outstanding journalistic and documentary photography of the previous year.
National Geographic contributing photographer Christian Ziegler shot this stunning close-up of a southern cassowary feeding on fallen fruit from a nearby blue quandong tree in northern Australia. Photographer Wei Seng Chen's winning image captures the action of the Pacu Jawi, a traditional competition between villages in Indonesia's West Sumatra province. A mass protrudes from Makone Soumaoro's neck as she poses for a photograph taken by Stephan Vanfleteren.
National Geographic contributing photographer Paul Nicklen's award-winning shot helps illustrate scientific research about how emperor penguins can double or triple their speed underwater by releasing streams of tiny bubbles from their feathers.
An injured woman cries after her home in the northern Syrian city of Idlib (map) was shelled by the Syrian Army during civil conflict in March 2012, killing her husband and two children.Unlike a lot of the other photographs that won awards, this image, taken by Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd, includes a significant portion of the subject out of focus. One year after a 30-foot tsunami swept through northern Japan, uprooted pine trees remained scattered on a beach in the city of Rikuzentaka (map). Smoke clouds Gaza City after an Israeli air strike damages two buildings used by foreign media outlets and Hamas.
A woman who makes her living by picking through trash for recyclable goods at a 30-acre (12-hectare) dump near the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, pauses in the rain to peruse a book she found.

Taking second prize in the "Staged Portraits Singles" category is Stefen Chow's portrait of artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who has become a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China.
Syrian opposition fighters in Aleppo torture a suspected government informant in this July 31, 2012, photograph taken by Turkish photojournalist Emin A–zmen. Photographer Fausto Podavini's series offers an intimate look at the challenges of caregiving through the lives of an Italian couple coping with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. We pored through the massive set of images of Earth from space to show you some of our favorites.
If you love documentaries about wildlife, space, cars, knowledge, history and much more, this is the channel for you! In 2013, a global jury of 19 experts selected winners from more than 100,000 images submitted by 5,666 photographers from 124 countries.For the most coveted prizea€”Photo of the Yeara€”the jury chose this image by Swedish photojournalist Paul Hansen.
The tall, flightless bird is an endangered species in Australia, where it plays a vital role in rain forest ecosystems by dispersing large seeds across very wide ranges.
Soumaoro, 30, is a housewife with three children who worries that the mass could be a tumor. This image of a penguin using bubbles to launch itself toward the surface of the sea ice appeared in a November 2012 National Geographic magazine feature about emperor penguins.
Jury member Bill Frakes said the blurriness of the woman's hand bothered him at first, but then: "The more it was on the screen, the more it grew on me.

This image by Associated Press photographer Bernat Armangue, who is based in the Middle East, is part of a series documenting the November 2012 escalation of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite being placed under house arrest, Ai continues to use the Internet and forums like Weibo, a microblogging site similar to Twitter, to voice his criticism against authoritarianism and censorship in his country."It's a very layered picture," commented jury member Anne Wilkes Tucker. The captive was released after 48 hours.Jury member Anne Wilkes Tucker praised A–zmen's ability to gain access to a sensitive situation in order to illustrate the realities of the Syrian conflict.
It shows two Palestinian children being carried to their funeral after an Israeli missile struck their home in Gaza City. Guinea is considered one of the least developed countries in the world, with most of its citizens lacking access to affordable health care. The couple has been together for 43 years, and Mirella's life is now devoted to assisting Luigi with daily activities."When Mirella started to dry her husband, the steam on the mirror started to disappear," Podavini said of the shot. The way he approached the subject of health in Africa from the angle of a staged, studio-lit portrait is respectable.

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