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(AFP Photo / Joel Saget)

Stars of the bar

"We tend to photograph lawyers on the fly, on their way in or out of court,” writes AFP photographer Joel Saget. “The pictures tend to come out looking pretty much the same, so AFP decided it would be a good idea - for our archives - to shoot a series of portraits of France’s star lawyers. We didn’t expect our subjects would be quite so photogenic.”

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Children sing after raising the national flag at the Beichuan Red army elementary school in southwest China's Sichuan province on January 21, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR)

"In this primary school in Beichuan, in Sichuan province, the students wear the uniform of the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, as the armed wing of the Communist Party was known during China’s two civil wars, the Long March and the second Sino-Japanese war," writes AFP photographer Fred Dufour. "The children look like a little regiment of the revolutionary force. The military-style uniform is an exception in 21st-century China. And for a photographer, it’s a goldmine."

(AFP Photo / Fred Dufour)

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People sit near a fully loaded truck in Madama near the border with Libya on January 1, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET)

On New Year’s Day, AFP photographer Dominique Faget joined France’s defence minister on a lightening visit to an army base in Niger's remote north. "The desert outpost lies at the gates of Libya, right on the route used by jihadists and arms smugglers to reach northern Mali and Niger from the violence-wracked state," he writes. "Near the gleaming new runway, I spot five or six trucks piled high with a mind-boggling load – at a standstill under the sun. I slip away from the group visit for a moment to investigate, and snap a few pictures."

(AFP Photo / Dominique Faget)

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Slovenia's Jernej Damjan soars through the air in the third stage of the Four Hills competition of the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Innsbruck on January 4, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR)

Covering the Four Hills ski jump tournament could have been mere routine for Joe Klamar, who first shot the event in Austria twelve years ago. As a photographer, "you are thoroughly limited," he writes. "You are increasingly kept to standard places, so you know exactly what pictures to expect." But combine fair weather, a dose of luck -- and a teammate who enabled him to have some fun -- and the result is visual poetry.

(AFP Photo / Joe Klamar)

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A miner is reunited with his father after an explosion on May 13, 2014 in Soma, western Turkey (AFP PHOTO /BULENT KILIC)

“These two faces tell the story of Turkey’s deadliest ever industrial disaster,” writes Bulent Kilic, who captured this embrace between a father and his son, rescued from a horrific death after a mine blast left hundreds trapped underground.

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

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The mother (R) of Abdolah Hosseinzadeh, murdered in 2007, slaps Balal who killed her son during his execution ceremony in the northern city of Noor on April 15, 2014 just before removing the noose around his neck (AFP PHOTO/ARASH KHAMOOSHI/ISNA)

Iranian photographer Arash Khamooshi captured the moment a mother spared the life of her son's killer. "At 6:20 am Balal was led out in handcuffs by prison guards. He was wearing a blindfold and they put the noose around his neck," he writes. "He cried out for forgiveness but the mother, who under 'qisas' -- the sharia law of retribution -- has the right to kick away the chair on which the condemned man stands, said she was not willing to forgive."

(AFP/ Arash Khamooshi / ISNA)

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A Palestinian man plays with his baby on a beach on September 7, 2014 in Gaza city. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)

Mahmud Hams spent the summer photographing the last war in Gaza. "Fifty days of shots of children crushed in the rubble. Parents weeping beside lifeless little bodies. Death. Destruction. Funerals of men, women, children, sometimes very young children," he writes. "And suddenly, on the same beach where an Israeli missile killed four children playing football, I see an image of pure joy: a happy father throwing his laughing baby up into the air. Ten days after the end of the war, I understand that it is over."

(AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)

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Nicolas Henin (R) is reunited with his family at the Villacoublay air base near Paris after being released from captivity in Syria, April 20, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

"This has been a tragic year for journalists," writes Kenzo Tribouillard. "But there were also moments of great joy and relief for the profession, and I was lucky enough to witness one of them. On April 20 at dawn, I headed to the Villacoublay military airport outside Paris to cover the homecoming of four French journalists, held captive in Syria for months."

(AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)

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A woman pushes a pram through the rubble of destroyed buildings in the besieged rebel bastion of Douma on December 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY)

"This was a crowded market before the Syria uprising. It’s one of the worst-damaged streets in Douma, the rebel bastion in the suburbs of Damascus that has been under government siege for more than a year now," writes Abd Doumany. "People are certainly not safe to venture outside, but they have to."

(AFP Photo / Abd Doumany)

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Children run behind the car of Central African Republic transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza as she leaves a camp for displaced civilians in Bangui on February 1, 2014 (AFP PHOTO/ ISSOUF SANOGO)

When he travelled to the strife-torn Central African Republic in February, Issouf Sanogo witnessed an extraordinary scene after a visit by President Samba Panza. "As her car revs up to leave, dozens of women and children start running behind it, jumping with joy, laughing and yelling," he writes. "That brief explosion of joy, captured on camera, is such a relief, so different from the atrocities I have been photographing."

(AFP Photo / Issouf Sanogo)

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A woman displays the word democracy on her leg at a pro-democracy rally near the central government offices in Hong Kong on October 5, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE)

"Among the crowd hanging out around midday at the pro-democracy protest camp in early October in Hong Kong's Admiralty district was a young woman with the word 'democracy' written on her leg," writes AFP photojournalist Alex Ogle. "There were a bunch of (male) photographers around taking her photo and I walked past not particularly interested in joining the pack to get a shot, only to double back a second later to get a picture. A young woman sitting there with a political statement on her body seemed pretty bold for such a demure crowd."

(AFP Photo / Alex Ogle)

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Migrant families wait to disembark from an Italian navy ship in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on July 2, 2014, after being rescued from a fishing boat where 45 migrants suffocated to death in the hull. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI ISOLINO)

"I took this picture on July 1 in the port of Pozzallo at the southern tip of Sicily. It shows migrant families waiting to disembark from an Italian navy ship after being rescued in the Strait of Sicily," writes Giovanni Isolino. "Covering migrant landings and shipwrecks, sometimes you see children arriving alone. And even when they have their families, they are usually upset, and frightened. Seeing a child smile like this is something very rare, and special."

(AFP Photo / Giovanni Isolino)

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The recently damaged Savur Mogyla monument to Red Army soldiers fallen in World War II, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Snizhnee on December 7, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG)

"It was bitterly cold on the hilltop, with an icy wind whipping up gusts of snow. We had come to attend a ceremony in memory of fallen pro-Russian rebels -- held at the vast Savur-Mogyla World War II memorial," writes AFP photographer Eric Feferberg. "It is a truly Dantean complex that was partly destroyed in fighting between Ukrainian government troops and separatists in July and August. Being there, you had both a sense of real beauty and nostalgia, and of utter desolation."

(AFP Photo / Eric Feferberg)

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Brazilian model Adriana Lima during the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in London on December 2, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)

"As the time of Christmas stockings draws near, my gift came early with the Victoria's Secret 2014 show," writes AFP's Leon Neal, sent to cover the celebrity-packed lingerie show in London. "But I knew this was a serious event on the photographer’s calendar, not to be taken lightly however frilly the subject." For it is a fact of the news business: smiling, scantily-clad supermodels often drive more sales than headline politics, sports or entertainment.

(AFP Photo /Leon Neal)

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Bhopal gas disaster survivor Akbar Khan, 70, sits inside a steam box as part of rehabilitation using traditional Ayurvedic treatment at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic on December 1, 2014  (AFP PHOTO/ INDRANIL MUKHERJEE)

Akbar Khan survived the Bhopal gas disaster 30 years ago -- but it left him with acute breathing, heart and joint problems. Steam baths are one of the Ayurvedic methods used to treat thousands like him, at a clinic in the Indian city. "It's difficult to photograph a tragedy after so many years," writes AFP's Indranil Mukherjee. "You’re trying to find an original angle and the best lighting to bring out the survivors’ emotions. But at the same time, you have to be extremely sensitive. After all, they’re having to relive the trauma of an event in which they lost a part of their life."

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Health workers dance to try to cheer up an Ebola patient at Kenama treatment center run by the Red cross Society on November 15, 2014 (AFP Photo / Francisco Leong)

Health workers dance in front of a severely ill Ebola patient at a treatment center run by the Red Cross Society in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on November 15, 2014. "The scene lasted two minutes", said AFP reporters Ann Chaon and Céline Cléry, who witnessed it. "A way to distract the patients — and try to bring some relief to their sorrow and fear. A moment of grace in a world hungry for it, in these dark days of Ebola. And we, too, were grateful for it."

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Shuruq (R), a nine-year old Syrian girl without legs,  plays on a swing with another child in a park in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on November 3, 2014 (AFP Photo / Baraa Al-Halabi)

"I came across Shuruq by chance one day, while walking in a playground in Aleppo", writes photographer Baraa Al-Halabi. "The nine-year-old little girl was playing with her brother, two sisters and mother. Since she has no legs, her big brother was pushing her on the swing".

"Aleppo was once Syria's economic capital. The town has been ravaged by more than two years of merciless fighting between rebels and Syrian government forces. Daily bombings by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have left thousands of people dead and caused mass destruction. Shuruq's mother says she lost her legs when a bomb destroyed her home".

(AFP Photo / Baraa Al-Halabi)

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Militants of Islamic State group are seen just before and after an explosion from an air strike on Tilsehir hill near the Turkish-Syrian border on October 23, 2014 (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

A black flag torn down

Bombs launched by Western aircraft strike an Islamic State group position on the Tilsehir hill, west of the Syrian town of Kobane, on October 23, 2014. AFP video reporter Mostafa Abulezz tells the story behind these impressive images.

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A local Hong Kong journalist collapses in agony after being hit in the face with pepper spray by police in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong on October 17, 2014 (AFP Photo / Alex Ogle)

A Hong Kong journalist collapses in agony after being hit in the face with pepper spray by police while he was covering a protest in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong on October 17, 2014. AFP photographer Alex Ogle tells how he shot this striking image.

(AFP Photo / Alex Ogle)

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Alleged Islamic State group militants stand next to an IS flag atop a hill in the Syrian town of Kobane, as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)
AFP Photo / Aris Messinis

Black flag over Kobane

Fighters keep watch under the black flag of the Islamic State group on a hill to the east of the Syrian town of Kobane. AFP photographer Aris Messinis shot the picture early in the afternoon on Monday, October 6 from the Turkish village of Mursitpinar, just across the border. Its unusual composition and the fact that the militants' silhouettes seem out of proportion to other elements led some AFP clients to call the agency to check it was real.

It was. Here is the explanation.

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