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World Press Photo Of The Year: 2014 Winner

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Images of war filled front pages and news websites during so much of last year. And photos of conflict and human suffering were among the entries for World Press Photo of the year. But the winner just announced is an image of love.

DONALD WEBER: There was this sort of luscious, just gentle, golden light bathing two men.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Two young men, one gazing down tenderly at the other, his hand resting gently on his lover's chest. In Russia, there are laws against homosexuality, which is why photographer Donald Weber, a member of the World Press jury, finds this photo of a gay couple in Russia both intimate and newsworthy.

WEBER: What the picture communicates is an emotional connection. It's a photo of love. It's a photo of friendship. And it's a photo of - also of, hey, these two men cannot be free with who they are.

GREENE: The winning photo, by Danish photographer Mads Nissen, was one of nearly a hundred-thousand entries for this year's contest. Donald Weber, the judge, says the winner of the general news category was also a standout to him. It's a photo taken in a kitchen in Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine which has been torn apart by war. A Russian photographer, Sergei Ilnitsky, captured a table next to a window with lace curtains. There's a small bowl of fruit, a teapot, broken glass and fresh blood.

WEBER: I mean, this is a picture of a war in Ukraine. But it's not necessarily about Ukraine. It's about war. This could be anywhere. This is a domestic scene. But it's going bigger and broader and really seeing and understanding the nuances of what war means within a domestic space.

MONTAGNE: The contest also had some unexpected controversy this year. About 20 percent of the finalists were disqualified because the photos had been digitally modified - not just alterations to color and tone, but content altered or deleted.

WEBER: I mean, it's sad. But in the end, it occurs. And I think World Press is good for standing up and trying to take a stand and just speak to photographers and say, well, is this the line?

GREENE: More often it is other questions on Weber's mind as he takes in all these images.

WEBER: Who are we? How do we tell stories? What is our human nature? What does it mean to be a storyteller? What does it mean to be alive and a human within this world that has so much wrong but has so much good?

MONTAGNE: The prize-winning World Press photos will be exhibited in a hundred cities around the world this year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.