The best photographs of 2013 , The Guardian

1Attack of the locusts. “Madagascar has been suffering for years from this locus pest and the problem is only growing. It was terrifying to be in the middle of this swarm. There were so many that even the sky was turning black. I ran towards a mass of them, flying up from the red dirt road which was black from them covering the whole ground. Of course I ended up having tens of them on my face and body, but that’s a little effort for a good picture. I could imagine what havoc these insects would cause for farmers and I knew this was an important story.”
Photograph: Dieter Telemans/Panos


Typhoon Haiyan. ‘It was two days after typhoon Haiyan and Tacloban had been devastated, with debris everywhere and scattered corpses on the streets. I saw Joshua Cator, 11 years old, scavenging in the ruins. I learned that he had lost most of his relatives, including his mother, Raquel, and sister, Jamyca, 6, and yet I saw resiliency in his face; his first instinct was survival, and to help others to survive. Now, he lives with his grandfather, in the same damaged house that trapped and killed so many of his family members. For me, his image is a portrait of strength.’
Photograph: Dennis Sabangan/EPA


A sign from above. ‘It was difficult to tell the story of Pope Benedict’s resignation because there were no visible reactions at the Vatican – no one praying in the streets as they had when Pope John Paul II died. I noticed dark clouds, and thought that if a storm was to come, I could take a picture of St Peter’s with a thunderbolt behind it. After about 40 minutes I stopped for a moment to wipe the raindrops on the lens, and lighting struck, along with tremendous thunder, and a group of tourists next to me screamed with fear. As the storm raged I managed to capture the lightning striking the dome. Some people thought the picture was fake, and that hurt me. Others believed I had photographed the wrath of God.’
Photograph: Alessandro Di Meo/EPA


Spain train crash. The train crash in Galicia on 24 July was one of the worst in Spanish history. This shot, a freeze frame from aerial video footage, shows carriages scattered across the tracks after the train derailed on a bend while travelling at twice the official speed limit. Of four crew and 218 passengers, 79 people were killed and more than 140 injured.
Photograph: Screengrab/AP


Freedom. Glenn Greenwald hugs his partner David Miranda as he returns to Brazil after being detained by UK authorities.
Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters


Williamsburg funerals. ‘This was a triple tragedy for the Satmar community in Williamsburg. A Jewish couple, both only 21, were killed in a hit and run. Their baby was delivered by cesarean at the hospital but died Monday morning. People gathered in thousands in front of the synagogue. The NYPD made it incredibly hard for us to find a vantage point, and it was already uncomfortable – this was a terrible and tragic incident, I don’t want to be the guy arguing with police in the middle of a grief- stricken neighbourhood. I ran across the street and found one building with a fire escape that took me to the roof. There was a brief moment when the light hit the rabbi, and I caught it. It was a sad, overwhelming moment.”
Photograph: Robert Stolarik/Carters News Agency


Female fighter in Syria. ‘Her name is Fadwa. She’s 20 years old, a widow with three children. Every time I asked the women of the Free Syrian Army why they decided to fight, the answer was: “My husband died on the front lines, I will die on the front lines, may God help us.” This was taken in a secret location in Aleppo. I tried to make her feel at ease and make sure she didn’t see me as a threat. The pose was her choice. I had to take the pictures fast. Black and white is a safe bet when you are not in control of the light. I was focusing on their eyes and their clothes. Is it a cliche to say I can’t stop looking at the baby?’
Photograph: Sebastiano Tomado/Rex


Crashing the catwalk. Two activists from the Femen group protest during a show for Nina Ricci’s ready-to-wear spring/ summer 2014 fashion collection.
Photograph: Jacques Brinon/AP


Overcome. And the best actress Oscar goes to … Jennifer Lawrence for her role in Silver Linings Playbook.
Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images


Military martyr. Chelsea Manning leaves court during her court martial. She was sentenced to 35 years, but may be out on parole in eight.
Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP


Polar bear MOT. A team of 12 people work for four hours to give Boris the polar bear his annual health checkup. The 27-year-old, 66-stone bear – who was rescued from a Mexican circus 10 years ago and now lives in Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma, Washington – has his talons trimmed, his eye operated on, and one brave soul even performs root canal surgery.
Photograph: Dean J Koepfler/Tacoma News Tribune/MCT


Aftermath. Passerby Ingrid Loyau-Kennett talks to Michael Adebowale, seen carrying a knife after stabbing Lee Rigby to death.
Photograph: Pixel8000/Twitter


Shipwreck. The Costa Concordia lies on its side, close to the Italian island of Giglio. Some 32 people drowned in the disaster.
Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters


Crying for Margaret. Tears stream down the face of the chancellor at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, in April. Osborne said he had “welled up a bit”
Photograph: Screengrab


A violent anniversary. ‘The pictures team in Cairo and I were told that the Egyptian security forces would be building a barrier between the anti-Morsi protesters and themselves. So, I was in place from the night until the early morning. I took this photo at 5:30 am as the protesters in Tahrir Square marked the second anniversary of the “January 25 revolution” that overthrew President Mubarak.’
Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters


Sliding to safety. ‘I have been a photographer in Dhaka for several years, and have covered tragic situations in the past, but I have I never witnessed a disaster such as this. A nine-storey building had collapsed, about 25km from Dhaka, with some 4,000 workers trappers inside. When I arrived at the scene, I saw local volunteers and firefighters doing everything they could to help survivors and recover dead bodies, with no concern for their own lives and safety. I was looking for photographs that would explain what was going on when I noticed that people were using large sheets of cloth as improvised slides to evacuate survivors from the building. It was a terrible time in Dhaka. I am glad that the image has been seen so widely, and that people around the world know the history of what happened that day.’
Photograph: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP


Running to safety. A child flees after the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya is attacked by gunmen. At least 67 people died.
Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters


Leap of faith. ‘I was photographing a surfing competition at Steamer Lane, California, when I noticed a guy running towards the waves, seemingly late for the next heat. I anticipated what he was about to do, and took a picture of his leap. It’s not unusual to jump off the cliff – I’ve done it myself – he timed it perfectly; the waves were a real nice cushion; afterwards he just paddled out to sea. It was only when I got home and downloaded the photo onto my computer that I realised how spectacular it was. The sad thing is, I accidentally deleted all of that day’s pictures, so this is a version that I enhanced slightly and saved on my computer. National Geographic wanted to run it, but as I didn’t have original file they couldn’t.
Photograph: Allen Hughes/Caters News Agency


Flag waving. Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League (N) celebrate election results in front of their party office in Lahore.
Photograph: Daniel Berehulak/Getty


Genesis Regional Photographer of the Year: Anthony Chapel-Ross captured this moving image of CO Vaudin and his son on his return from Afghanistan
Photograph: Anthony Chapel-Ross/The Press, York

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