To mark the end of the year, photo agency AP has rounded up its “most popular, highest-trending, most liked and shared photos posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.” In other words, the images that resonated most across social media in 2015 .
The 146-photo collection reveals a predictable range of events from sports to global crises. But once shuffled into the right order, what’s remarkable about this collection is how often the trending photos overlapped on the same topics, offering multiple perspectives on the year’s most important issues, events, and places.
Now that the year is over, here’s a chance to look at the images that mattered to us most with fresh eyes.
The year began and ended with Paris.
The year began with catastrophe—on Jan. 7, masked gunmen attacked journalists in the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12, and then took hostages in a kosher grocery store. In response, Parisians took to the streets with the slogan “Not Afraid,” wielding pens as symbols of freedom. Months later, on Nov. 13, terrorists attacked again, taking the lives of 130 civilians. Though the Eiffel Tower closed for several days of national mourning, unprecedented demonstrations of solidarity spread across the world.
The global refugee crisis became visible…
Civilians displaced by violence, hardship and natural disaster became impossible to overlook this year, as scenes of desperation—particularly at Europe’s closed borders—proliferated, and receiving nations lamented the burden of hospitality.
…catalyzing fierce discussion of cultural values and integration.
The power of rainbows was finally revealed.
Anti-government protests around the world continued…
…and in Ukraine fueled civil war.
Animals continued to capture hearts and minds.
Sports pictures, less so.
We shared images from the ends of the Earth…
…but kept a soft spot for neighbors.
It was the 70th anniversary of the war that split North and South Korea, a bitter reminder for the families who can now only reunite during special diplomatic field trips.
Faith and community remained central to the human experience…