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Photo of Russian Gay Couple Wins World Press Photo of the Year

Photo of Russian Gay Couple Wins World Press Photo of the Year

World Press Photo winner, 2014

Worth a thousand words.
 

Mads Nissen's intimate photo of a gay Russian couple has won the 58th annual World Press Photo of the Year award, recognizing the best in photojournalism.

Taken from the Danish photographer's project, Homophobia in Russia, the photo beat out nearly 100,000 other images to capture the 2014 title.

According to the British Journal of Photography:

Mads' story was largely self-funded, taken on his own time between commissioned work. He first went to Russia on assignment for Scanpix. He spent time with a friend, an activist in the Gay Pride community, who was attacked in front of Mads after he kissed his boyfriend goodbye. The event inspired Mads to pursue the series, and he returned to Russia again and again.

In a year of global turmoil, the subtle image of St. Petersburg's Jon and Alex -- whom Nissen refers to as a "modern-day Romeo and Juliet" -- stood out amongst violent scenes of protest, terrorism and general world-fuckery that has all but defined the news cycle as of late.

"Today, terrorists use graphic images for propaganda," said Instagram editorial director and World Press Photo juror Pamela Chen. "We have to respond with something more subtle, intense and thoughtful."

Russia infamously passed a law banning so-called gay propoganda ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, drawing international criticism while endangering the lives of the country's LGBT citizens.

"It's a picture of love and hate," added New York Times assistant managaing editor Michelle McNally, who also served as a member of this year's World Press Photo jury. "It's not a typical press image, but it's an image that will affect millions of people across dozens of countries over the world. In a lot of countries, being gay is a very dangerous thing to be. In certain areas, they're persecuted. But the picture speaks to me purely of love."

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