From migrants trying to reach Europe and the United States to armed conflicts and protests around the globe, Reuters photographers witnessed some of the most important events of the year.
They were in frontline trenches with Ukraine soldiers as Russian troops amassed at the border. They were on the streets in Myanmar when police fired live ammunition at anti-coup protesters. And they scaled scaffolding to capture images of thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump storming the U.S. Capitol.
"I didn't want to risk getting crushed or injured by the massive crowd, which was hostile toward members of the media and had already assaulted several of my colleagues that day," said Reuters photographer Leah Millis. "I chose to risk climbing some scaffolding that had been erected for the upcoming inauguration to give me a better view."
Others followed rescue workers out into the Mediterranean Sea where they saved migrants trying to reach Europe, including a boat where a fire had badly burned a Libyan family.
"The sight of burnt flesh peeling off people as they groan, moan, cry, scream in unspeakable agony is not something one forgets," said photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi.
They also captured the joy as families reunited after a year of separation due to the pandemic and the success of farmers using boats to save their cattle from flood waters in Canada.
Below is a selection of some exceptional Reuters pictures taken in 2021 along with the stories behind the shots, directly from the photographers who took them.
Leah Millis: An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington.
“Thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a failed attempt to overturn the recent election and prevent Joe Biden, a Democrat, from becoming the next president. It was the worst attack on the seat of the U.S. government since the War of 1812.
I arrived at the west side of the U.S. Capitol before the Trump supporters overwhelmed police lines, and I documented the chaos that ensued for the next seven hours. At one point I heard the crowd chanting “heave-ho” and thought they must be breaking in through the doors. I didn’t want to risk getting crushed or injured by the massive crowd, which was hostile toward members of the media and had already assaulted several of my colleagues that day. I chose to risk climbing some scaffolding that had been erected for the upcoming inauguration to give me a better view.
The Capitol had already been breached via different entrances, but the fight for this entrance went on for hours. Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan police officers engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the mob of Trump supporters and in the process multiple officers were severely injured. Four people would die that day and a police officer attacked by protesters died the next day. Four officers later took their own lives.
Eventually, law enforcement was able to successfully push the crowd back. At 5:04 p.m. to disperse the remaining protesters, they used a flash bang grenade, which released a blinding light that illuminated the U.S. Capitol building. To me, the explosion of the grenade captured the violence and shock of the day: American citizens attacking and breaching their own country’s Capitol building. The haunting sight of the American flag flying above the entire scene, casting a shadow onto the iconic dome behind it, is what stays with me.
There were a lot of photographers at the Capitol that day and there are many significant images from inside and outside of the building. Media outlets all over the world used this photograph and it was displayed at Trump’s second impeachment trial. The attack on the Capitol was a pivotal moment in American history and I think that we'll look back on this day as a turning point in our country.”
(Picture Editing Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson, Kezia Levitas; Text Editing Lisa Shumaker; Layout Kezia Levitas)
For part two of A Picture and its Story 2021 click HERE