In Pictures

In pictures: Twelve months, twelve frames

Hugh Pinney from Getty Images has picked out some of the most powerful images of the year.

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January

With tears running down his cheeks, US President Barack Obama talks about the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and about his efforts to increase federal gun control in the East Room of the White House, 5 January 2016. Image copyright Chip Somodevilla

The president of the United States sheds a tear as he discusses gun control with relatives of the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

It was abundantly clear that this is a topic very close to his heart and a rare occasion when a politician allowed genuine emotion to show through.

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February

Members of a Syrian opposition group attack the headquarters of Assad regime forces in the villages of Nubul and al-Zahraa in Aleppo, Syria on 12 February 12 2016. Image copyright Mustafa Sultan /Anadolu Agency

Aleppo has been in the news all year. Rebel forces, Russian forces, Syrian forces, so-called Islamic State (IS) forces and coalition forces, all battling for influence in a sickening game of three-dimensional chess that ultimately looks likely to render the city, thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited place on earth, to nothing but rubble.

The shockwave from the tank firing has given this image the most extraordinary painterly quality - a moment of extreme violence rendered beautiful.

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March

Flight attendant Nidhi Chaphekar (R) reacts in the moments following a suicide bombing at Brussels Zaventem airport on 22 March 2016, in Brussels, Belgium. Image copyright Ketevan Kardava

When multiple bombs were detonated by terrorists at Brussels airport, Georgian TV journalist Ketevan Kardava was caught close to one of the blasts. She was unhurt and, in the process of escaping, managed to take a few photos of the aftermath on her phone.

These few images rapidly came to define this act of carnage. They serve to show what a powerful tool the phone in everyone's pocket can be when the user has the instinct and courage to document events like this.

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April

Dancers perform on their way to attend a rally with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in support of President Dilma Rousseff, in the historic Lapa neighbourhood on 11 April 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image copyright Mario Tama

In the run-up to the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil was beset by political upheaval with vast crowds turning out to demonstrate for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, and crowds of almost equal size turning out in support of the beleaguered leader.

This image is of a group of women heading to a rally supporting Rousseff - why they should be dancing, I don't know, but nor do I care. I simply love the image. The light, the setting, the sense of energy, and the steely determination in the eye of the woman in the green skirt - just brilliant. I want it for my wall.

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May

In this digital composite image a comparison has been made between a London scene during the Blitz of 1940-1941 and present day, to remember the 75th anniversary of the end of the Blitz in London on 11 May 2016. Image copyright Jim Dyson

Getty Images archive - with more than 100 million images - is truly a treasure trove, so any excuse to dig for a while and resurface material that has new relevance is a treat.

For the 75th anniversary of the end of the Blitz, it allowed Jim Dyson the chance to identify key locations, revisit them and forge an almost tangible relationship between events of the 1940s and now. This is just one of a set of remarkable and highly compelling images.

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June

A bottle and chair are thrown as an England fan walks through tear gas as England fans clash with police in Marseille on 10 June 2016. Image copyright Carl Court

When England and Russia fans clashed in Marseille ahead of their opening game of Euro 2016, it was no great surprise. The extent of the French police response was more surprising, escalating rapidly to full-blown tear gas volleys.

This stands out from the thousands of tear gas images I must have looked at over the years. Three simple elements - a chair, a bottle and a solitary fan stopped dead and divorced from anything else by the clouds of smoke. It has a silence and stillness despite the raucous chaos that you know is actually going on. Probably my favourite tear gas picture ever.

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July

Soldiers involved in the coup attempt surrender on Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, on 16 July 2016. Image copyright Getty Images

The morning after the extraordinary coup attempt against President Erdogan in Turkey. In the background you can see civilians beating and punching soldiers who the night before had been attempting to impose martial law. The expression on the young soldier's face tells you everything about what it feels like to have backed the losing side in an event like this - pain, desperation and, above all, fear of what the future holds.

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August

Fireworks explode over Maracana stadium with the Mangueira 'favela' community in the foreground during opening ceremonies for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on 5 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image copyright Mario Tama

After the traditional months of speculation over whether Rio would be ready and/or fit to host the Olympic Games, they got under way in a spectacular blaze of glory.

This image brilliantly puts the splendour of the Maracana Stadium in the context of the vast economic divide in Brazil, viewed from a hillside favela overlooking the city.

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September

Nomads wearing burning clothes ride horses at the opening ceremony of the World Nomad Games on 3 September 2016 in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. Image copyright Olivia Harris

The World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan have been described as like the Olympics but with more fire, more eagles, more fighting, more arrows and most of it done on horseback. Quite simply they looked like the best spectacle on earth that I (and I think most people) had never heard about.

These burning riders are apparently taking part in an exhibition rather than a competition, but I can definitely see scope for a new dressage category at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

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October

A boy pauses on his bicycle as he passes an oil field that was set on fire by retreating ISIS fighters ahead of the Mosul offensive, on 21 October 2016 in Qayyarah, Iraq. Image copyright Carl Court

When IS set fire to oilfields surrounding Mosul, the sky darkened, and images from the siege of the city took on an apocalyptic hue.

In this image, the juxtaposition with the youngster on his bright red bike creates a bizarre yet compelling tableau. One tiny, brief moment that has little directly to do with the story of the conflict, and yet captures its essence entirely.

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November

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with President-elect Donald Trump following a meeting in the Oval Office on 10 November 2016 in Washington, DC. Image copyright Win McNamee

I am not sure that we are ever going to stop comparing President Trump with his predecessor, simply because they appear to be such polar opposites. Campaign rhetoric from each prior to the vote cannot have helped the awkwardness of this meeting. No amount of positive assurances and half-hearted endorsements of each other can conceal what is truly going on here, with a forced handshake in the pervasive glare of the world's media.

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December

People line the street to make photographs and wave flags in Santa Clara, Cuba, as the remains of former Cuban President Fidel Castro pass by on a cross-country journey from Havana to Santiago de Cuba on 1 December 2016. Image copyright Chip Somodevilla

When world leaders shuffle off this mortal coil, usually unfolding events are treated as one more breaking news story to cover.

There are a few for whom the coverage of their funeral and the ensuing events warrant planning. Mandela was one, and Fidel Castro another.

For each, the plans were based on the feeling that when the individual passed on, the foundations of the societies that they had come to represent or build would fall with them.

However, in both cases the plans failed to take into account that both died as very old men who had long since passed on the mantle of responsibility, and whose death was treated by their supporters as sad but also as a release.

Castro's funeral tour through Cuba seemed to be imbued with a dignity and simplicity that could not have been further from the chaos and confusion we had in mind when making the original plan many years ago.

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All work is subject to copyright. Text by Hugh Pinney.