Take a Look at Some of the Most Powerful Photojournalism From the Past Year

Check out some of the best photos from the Siena International Photo Awards competition.
Simon Childs
London, GB
October 25, 2021, 2:55pm
"Hardship of Life" by Mehmet Aslan won the 2021 Siena Awards.​ Photo: Mehmet Aslan​
"Hardship of Life" by Mehmet Aslan won the 2021 Siena Awards. Photo: Mehmet Aslan

A little boy smiles down at his father, who holds him in the air smiling back. It’s a bittersweet moment, as there is hardship on display as well.

The father Munzir lost his right leg when a bomb was dropped on a bazaar in Idlib, Syria, as he walked through. His son Mustafa was born without limbs because of a congenital disorder called tetra-amelia, caused by medications his mother Zeynep had to take after being hit by nerve gas during the war in Syria. Mustafa will need special electronic prostheses, which are not yet available in Turkey.

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The arresting image, “Hardship of Life”, was taken by Turkish photographer Mehmet Aslan in the district of Reyhanli, in the Turkish province of Hatay, at the border with Syria. It is the winner of the title “photo of the year” from this year’s prestigious Siena International Photo Awards. It was selected among tens of thousands of images submitted by photographers from 163 countries. 

Photojournalist Britta Jachinski, one of the judges of the awards, said, “I have become quite tough over the years in my career, witnessing much suffering and covering deeply disturbing stories. I am emotionally strong but this photo made my heart jump. The sheer horror of their hardship was captured, whilst the photographer pressed the shutter in that decisive moment – one of the most beautiful moments two people can share. When nothing around you matters, the world stands still and all you feel is love and joy.”

Here are some more incredible photos from the documentary and photojournalism section of the awards.

In “Captive” by Marcus Westberg from Sweden, a giant panda used for breeding sits alone in a facility in Shaanxi, China. Photo: Marcus Westberg

In “Captive” by Marcus Westberg from Sweden, a giant panda used for breeding sits alone in a facility in Shaanxi, China. Photo: Marcus Westberg

In “Fire Destroys the Moria Camp 03” by Jacob Ehrbahn from Denmark, a plane drops water over Moria refugee camp as it burns on the 10th of September 2020 . Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn

In “Fire Destroys the Moria Camp 03” by Jacob Ehrbahn from Denmark, a plane drops water over Moria refugee camp as it burns on the 10th of September 2020 . Photo: Jacob Ehrbahn

“Protest Has a Woman Face” by Yauhen Yerchak shows women linking arms to prevent arrests by unmarked, masked security forces. The women are supporters of Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova. Photo: Yauhen Yerchak

“Protest Has a Woman Face” by Belarusian photographer Yauhen Yerchak shows women linking arms to prevent arrests by unmarked, masked security forces. The women are supporters of Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova. Photo: Yauhen Yerchak

In “Virunga” by Brent Stirton, rangers from Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo patrol a lake. Fourteen rangers died in clashes with militia groups in the park in 2020. Photo: Brent Stirton

In “Virunga” by Brent Stirton from the USA, rangers from Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo patrol a lake. Fourteen rangers died in clashes with militia groups in the park in 2020. Photo: Brent Stirton

In “Portugal Forest Fire” by Nuno André Ferreira from Portugal, a forest fire rages about a 100km from Porto, as a child sits in a nearby car child sits inside a car. Every year in Portugal thousands of hectares of forest burn out of control. Photo: Nuno André Ferreira

In “Portugal Forest Fire” by Nuno André Ferreira from Portugal, a forest fire rages about a 100km from Porto, as a child sits in a nearby car child sits inside a car. Every year in Portugal thousands of hectares of forest burn out of control. Photo: Nuno André Ferreira

During the rainy season torrential rains degrade the only road that connects Monrovia, to Lofa County. Hundreds get stranded every year making this often vital journey. Many are injured by over turned trucks, or get heat exhaustion or dehydration. Photo: Hannah Maule-ffinch

“Treacherous Road Lofa” to Monrovia by Hannah Maule-ffinch from the UK. During the rainy season torrential rains degrade the only road that connects Monrovia, to Lofa County. Hundreds get stranded every year making this often vital journey. Many are injured by over turned trucks, or get heat exhaustion or dehydration. Photo: Hannah Maule-ffinch

In the palliative care centre at the Calais hospital, Peyo, a two-time dressage champion, licks the hands of 64-year-old Roger. Photo: Jeremy Lempin

"Peyo" by Jeremy Lempin from France. In the palliative care centre at the Calais hospital, Peyo, a two-time dressage champion, licks the hands of 64-year-old Roger. Photo: Jeremy Lempin

“A safe release for Everyone” by Alex Lindbloom shows a great white shark which accidentally smashed through a shark cage with three people inside, before being safely released. Photo: Alex Lindbloom

“A safe release for Everyone” by Alex Lindbloom shows a great white shark which accidentally smashed through a shark cage with three people inside, before being safely released. Photo: Alex Lindbloom