From the elementary school shooting in Connecticutand continued protests in Egypt to Syrian refugees in Turkey and the Pope’s first tweet, TIME presents the best images of the week.
A great portrait captures the very essence of its subject, and this year, TIME continued its long legacy of storytelling with a number of compelling photographs. Search Engine Optimization . linkwheel creation . 2012 saw newsmakers in several categories and countries, so we sent photographers around the world to capture them as they made their mark. In Turkey, Peter Hapak photographed several Syrian families who had sought refuge in the country after fleeing their homeland to escape the brutality of Assad’s regime; in Iowa, Martin Schoeller captured Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas as the young gymnast trained both in the gym and at home; and in Israel, Marco Grob photographed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, in 2012, proved that his influence is not only large, but lasting. Their portraits and the rest in this gallery are visual testaments to the diverse and colorful personalities who made 2012 memorable; herewith, a look at TIME’s best commissioned portraits this year.
Syria has always been a tough place to cover for journalists. Confidently authoritarian with a ruthlessly formidable security and intelligence apparatus, Syria has long been one of the most policed of Arab police states. So when some Syrians defied their government to take to the streets in the southern city of Dara‘a in March 2011, the temptation to cover the story was overwhelming for many, including myself.
The story of the Syrian uprising is ultimately the tale of regular citizens silencing the policeman in their heads, breaking their own personal barriers of fear to speak, to demonstrate, to demand, to reject, to no longer be afraid, to live in dignity. It’s about what these people will do, what they will endure, and what they are prepared to become to achieve their aims.
It is also the story of a significant portion of the population that considers the regime of President Bashar Assad the country’s best option, because they believe in its Baathist secular ideology or directly benefit from its patronage or don’t have confidence in Assad’s opponents and fear what may come next. Understanding what this segment of the population will accept in terms of state violence, the narratives they choose to believe and their concerns is a critical component of the story, though one that is harder to obtain, given the paucity of press visas issued by Damascus.
The only way to tell the Syrian story, really tell it, is to be on the ground with the men, women and children who are central to it, whether in Syria on in the neighboring states that many Syrians have fled to. It isn’t easy to do — the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York City, has dubbed Syria the “most dangerous place for journalists in the world” — but it is essential. Nothing beats being there. There is no compensating for seeing, feeling, touching, capturing, living the story.
The images here are a testament to the power of being on the ground, of sharing and capturing a moment for posterity, of translating an element of a person’s life through imagery.
Take a look at the photos. Can you place yourself in these situations? Can you imagine what it must be like? What do you feel when you look at the images? Are you drawn into them, or are you repulsed? Can you relate to them, or are they too alien? This is the power of translating on-the-ground reporting to an audience. This is why we must and will continue to document the Syrian uprising from inside the country when we can, and we — members of the foreign press corps — are not alone. Sadly, as is often the case, local journalists (both professional and citizen) have disproportionately borne the brunt of the casualties in this crisis. Still, this story is not about members of the media and what we go through to tell it; it’s about the Syrians who entrust their testimonies, their experiences, their hopes, their fears, their images to us in the hope that they will help explain what is happening in one of the most pivotal states in the Middle East.
This collection of testimonies is the third in a series by TIME documenting iconic images of conflict. See “9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” and “Afghanistan: The Photographs That Moved Them Most” for more.
Abouzeid is a Middle East correspondent for TIME. Reporting by Vaughn Wallace.
The sport ofyal gre, or oil wrestling,is at the heart ofKrkpnar, afestival in the Turkish city of Edirne. Thousands of people will come to see these wrestlersslick with olive oilcompete in the 651stannual games on July 2. Itll be a familiar sight for Turkish photographer Pari Dukovic, who attended the event in 2010 and 2011.
I saw that the sport had an Old World charm to itthe festival, the prayers, the music, the instruments, the outfits, says Pari, who used to watch the festivals coverage as a teenager. I am drawn to subject matter that makes you feel as though you are traveling through time andKrkpnarfascinated me with its history and how it has remained an integral part of Turkish culture.
As the festival begins, drum and horn players parade through the city with the sports grand prizethe Krkpnar Golden Belt. The community then meets in the grand 16thcentury Selimiye Mosque, where the imam gives a sermon in honor of competitors past and present.For the young boys participating in the traditional Turkish coming-of-age ceremony known asSunnet Dugunu, its desirable to celebrate it at the same time asKrkpnar, as the festival represents to many the ultimate in male achievement. The boy in the mosque in slide #10 wears the ornate cape associated with the ritual.
After the sermon, wrestlers pray at the graves of legendary sportsmen and proceed through the streets to the competition field, singing the national anthem. The master of ceremony introduces the wrestlers to the audience, reciting their names, titles and skills in verse. Cheap Digital Cable TV . Very few of the wrestlers, who range widely in age, make a living from the sport. Nevertheless, Pari says hegot the clear sense that being a part of this event is a dream come true for them. They train for a whole year and often travel from villages all over Turkey to participate, so becoming aKrkpnarwrestler is an achievement they take great pride in, he says.The wrestlers, wearing nothing but short leather trousers, get rubbed down with olive oil. This makes the goal of the matchto throw ones opponent on his backall the more difficult. The matches last about 30 minutes each, while the final bout can last up to two exhausting hours.
I think the dedication that goes into what they do is amazing, says Pari. I hope that my photographs stand as visual documents of this tradition and that my respect is captured in these images.
Pari Dukovic is a New York City based documentary photographer. See more of his work here.