The people in the images of the year including a free-climbing first and Peter Grestes release from an Egyptian jail
I started to obsess about El Capitan in 2009, after watching footage of climbers on it. This particular rock is called Dawn Wall, and its the largest granite monolith in the world. People have been climbing it for decades, but no one had done so with only ropes and harnesses.
Tommy Caldwell and I started training by climbing the rock one pitch at a time, 31 in total. It took seven years. I relied on his experience. You cant do it on your own. We balanced each other out: hes an optimist, Im a realist. I often liken our climb to the Tour de France: there are harder climbs out there, but what makes El Capitan so challenging is completing the whole thing. Its consistently and unrelentingly tough.
We did most of our climbing at night. Heat and sunlight are your enemy, because the sheer rock is more slippery when its warmer. It gets the shade around 4pm, and we were wearing head torches by 6pm. We went down the wall to our base camp to sleep, in tents suspended from the rock (thats me in the tent). The only time that got a little scary was during a windstorm, which blows up the wall. That was pretty exciting.
By far the worst part was my battle with pitch 15. I was stuck there for eight days, unable to get any higher, with my fingers battered. It got to the point when I thought, either I try to catch Tommy up or I give up. Ultimately, I couldnt stand the thought of not climbing Dawn Wall I probably wouldnt have the chance again.
We had guys photographing and filming us the whole way up, so we were posting pictures on social media, but the catalyst for our climb going viral was a story in the New York Times. When the Times is writing a front-page story on the state of your fingertips, you know somethings going on.
Theres this old philosophy about seeking pleasure to avoid pain. I think we turned that mindset around: we chose to define what we were going through as both pleasure and pain, and that was one of the biggest contributors to keeping us optimistic.
Before Tommy, no one had imagined it was possible to free-climb Dawn Wall; we willed the idea from a dream into being. We did years of training until we got closer and closer to believing we were capable of it. Now, I suppose, Im seeing if there isnt something even more dream-like somewhere else that I can turn into reality.
Interview: Hannah Booth
This was taken after the first cabinet meeting of our unity government, and was one of the most moving moments of my life. Even if it had been cloudy, I would remember it as sunny, because it was the day that, after five dark years, hope was born again in Greece. It was totally spontaneous that I wore my red tie, a symbol of socialism. Voters would not have expected it, but I wanted to send a message of political reconciliation, to show them that from now on we are all together, going forward as one.
Although Alexis Tsipras and I come from different ideological backgrounds, he from the left, me from the centre right, we share a common love of our country. The only thing were interested in is building a better future for Greeks, who live in the place where democracy was born. We are two politicians who have never had our hands in the till, and we formed the government because of our common vision. People from the left and right who had been hardest hit by [internationally mandated] austerity measures, whose dignity had been destroyed, who were fearful of losing their homes, who had seen the previous government pass and enact laws at the behest of [German finance minister Wolfgang] Schäuble, had come together. We had united them with the purpose of changing the political system and ensuring the end of all those who, for years, had governed Greece in the name of illegal profit.
I remember it not only as one of the happiest days of my life, but as a day of vindication. After the war that had been waged against us in a pre-electoral campaign where everyone, from the banks to the EU to the Greek media, was against us, we deserved to smile. Throughout the campaign, everyone had doubted whether Tsipras would win or whether I would even get into parliament. With the strength solely of the Greek people, we had confounded them.
Interview: Helena Smith
I had known about my appointment for only a couple of weeks before the public announcement in December, so there wasnt really space to do an enormous amount of pondering on what it meant. Because it was a royal appointment, very few people knew. The people who were part of the process were all exceedingly supportive, but neither I nor they quite knew what the scale of the response would be. Over the next few months, there was an extraordinary amount of public recognition. The public, face-to-face engagement was, without exception, positive and very humbling. Many of those who spoke to me were of other faiths or none, but they felt a sense of inclusion in the moment. People heard good news in it, for themselves and their communities.
What I remember most about the day itself is an overarching sense of being held. It was partly a personal religious experience I felt that God was present with me but it was also about feeling upheld by the hundreds of bishops present, the countless people across the country, across the world, who felt a sense of their own engagement. There were so many wonderful moments: the procession, being presented by my diocesan and my local bishop, one of my dearest friends, Sarah, preaching she did a beautiful job. Being prayed for by the archbishop and the moment of consecration where all those bishops gathered and laid hands.
It wasnt entirely without controversy [the Rev Paul Williamson interrupted the ceremony, shouting not in the Bible]. We had been alerted, but I am glad to be part of a church that allows dissent to be articulated. It made the occasion more honest. On the whole, I think in the end it was a positive thing that it was allowed to happen.
I knew and was known by every single one of the bishops in this photograph. You can also just make out some of the women bishops from other countries who attended, and it was a particular delight to have them there. My husband, George [pictured on the left of Archbishop John Sentamu] and I were ordained together in 1993, so we have supported each others ministries for two decades.
Since my appointment, seven other women have been ordained as bishops in the Church of England. One of the blessings has been how little attention there has been on those appointments. I recognise that my appointment marked a significant moment in the churchs history, and clearly from the response that moment was extraordinary. But that doesnt make me extraordinary. The women who have been appointed since are equally, if not more, gifted. I just happen to have been the first.
Interview: Rosie Ifould
The day of the survivors issue, I opened my kiosk at 7am. Usually I open at 8am, but I knew it was a big thing. I generally stock only four or five copies of the magazine, but that day I had 40 or 50. There were already people waiting; a queue maybe 20 metres long of my regular customers, people from the neighbourhood, but also passersby.
The atmosphere was very tense. You could feel it in the streets. Lots of people bought that issue as a souvenir, out of solidarity or in protest. We had to defend the press and oppose barbarism.
People dont know that we werent paid for selling Charlie that day; we did it for nothing. All the money went to Charlie Hebdo. I did that, anyway; some kiosks didnt. More than 100 people wanted to reserve Charlie Hebdo the day before it came out, but I refused. It was important to be honest, not to make money on the back of it; I wasnt going to go and auction copies on the internet. That would have been against my philosophy, and against my way of helping Charlie Hebdo.
Newspapers are my life. Theyre also my livelihood, and its important to defend that. But in this context, it feels a bit frightening, defending your livelihood. Charlie Hebdo made me laugh. But I think as a rule they do go too far when it comes to religion. Personally, Im an atheist, but you should steer clear of peoples ideas about religion if you are going to go too far. Some people might be hurt. Politics isnt the same; you can do what you like thats what makes it funny.
France has changed. Theres a lot of Islamophobia. People are against Arabs, against Muslims. Its become a real thing since Charlie. Ive been insulted even attacked, once because of that. Not because of Charlie, but because its written on my face that Im an Arab.
Interview: Nicolas Messyasz/Jon Henley
I was live for CNN at the Governors Ball, which is where the winners go after the ceremony, usually with their statues. I was with a gaggle of other journalists in a roped-off area. There was quite a bit of jostling. I had just finished interviewing Eddie Redmayne. He was so humble, delighted, gracious and grateful and clearly in shock. The best actor award is towards the end of the show, so I dont think his win had sunk in yet.
Ive done a lot of red carpet interviews, but the post-show parties, like this one, are much more fun: the actors know theyve won, so theyre not nervous or buttoned up. Their joy at winning bubbles over. The ball lasted about an hour, then I headed to my hotel I had to be on air for East Coast morning time, which is 5am in LA. I think I got about an hour and a halfs sleep.
Im a general assignment reporter for CNN, and cover a lot of sad stories I spent weeks in Ferguson this year so for one night it was really nice to speak to people who are probably at one of the pinnacles of happiness in their life.
Interview: Hannah Booth
This marks the climax of the battle of our lives, in getting Peter out of an Egyptian prison. Hed been on a short assignment in Cairo in December 2013, for Al-Jazeera English, for three weeks while one of the regular journalists was away over Christmas. The authorities took a dislike to what hed been saying, and on 29 December arrested him. [In July 2014, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.]
Here, he had been ejected from Egypt on the presidents decree, and allowed to fly home to Australia. There was another trial to come for him and his two colleagues, but that didnt cloud our joy one iota. This shot was taken after Peter emerged into the arrivals area of Brisbane airport. We had already met him in the VIP lounge, where we made our personal greetings and expressed our joy at welcoming him home. His arrival wasnt a shock, but it was overwhelming, the culmination of 13 months of toil and drama. When we had composed ourselves, we had to front up for our friends in the arrivals area. Nothing was hard to do that night: we felt very free and liberated.
For me, the most memorable part was the sheer number of people. We knew thered be some media, but the flight arrived at 1.30am, and we walked out at close to 3am. The number of people there floored us. It was the middle of the night, and some of Peters friends would have had to stay up all night and drive for hours to get to the airport. Some of my colleagues turned up, and I truly never expected to see them.
You know when youre fleeing from a bad person in your dreams, and no matter how hard you run, you dont make any progress? Well, this was like the moment in the dream when youre miles away from your pursuer and the sun is shining brightly and the birds are chirping.
Interview: Patrick Kingsley
We walked out of our front door and were blinded by flashing lights. We were making a statement just so the media would go away. We were smiling so hard, our faces hurt. It was a few hours after Amanda had been acquitted and we were trying to say a few words and remain calm. By then, we were able to talk, because the crying had stopped and there was just joy. Complete and utter joy.
I remember sitting in the kitchen and watching Amanda at her computer when the verdict came down, and how she started to scream. She was holding her hands over her mouth, and we didnt understand Italian. At first I thought, oh my God; I had this horrible sinking feeling. She told us all to hush because she was listening, then said, Acquitted! Acquitted! and started jumping around. I thought I was going to be ill because of the overwhelming feeling of it. You couldnt begin to wrap your head around the fact that it was over and she could have a normal life. Everybody cried and held on to each other; but none of us could hold Amanda, because she was bouncing around.
Before the verdict, we were anticipating a continued fight, and looking at a lot of what ifs what if they found her guilty? What if they try to extradite her? All of a sudden, the what ifs became, Now what? The weight had gone. It took a while to adjust, but now we can turn our energies to What are we going to do with our lives? rather than How am I going to fight the next fight?
The past eight years have taken so much out of us, and after the acquittal we were exhausted. It was particularly tough for Amanda, of course. For the first time, she felt she could properly mourn for Meredith, and for the first time she began to ask why the courts had put her through this. Now were catching up on life. Im not sure well ever recover what it took out of us, but at least were picking up and moving on from here.
Interview: Simon Hattenstone
I had been in South Korea for a little over four months. We were having a great time, excited to be there. Right after the attack, I knew I was hurt pretty badly. The real concern was whether there was a nick to the carotid artery, because my cheek was cut. My military training kicked in and I knew the most important thing was to stay calm and keep moving towards the exit and safety.
The doctors confirmed that everything was fine with my salivary gland and nerves. The only question was whether my hand would be OK over time: I was told I would make a 90-100% recovery.
When I left hospital five days later, I had an official dinner at my residence and was back in the office two weeks later. I have scars on my face and arm. Theyre fading, but they could stay for some time, maybe for ever. I was able to talk to my wife before she saw the news; within 30 minutes, she was at the hospital. My parents were concerned, but I satisfied them that my prognosis was good. It helped that wed had a conversation about risks when I went to Iraq and Afghanistan as a sailor.
President Obama called me within 15 minutes of my arrival at the hospital. He was concerned as a president whose ambassador had been hurt, but also as a friend. He asked if I was OK and what he could do to help. The extra security provided by the South Korean government has been excellent, but I dont feel I need to be more vigilant. It hasnt changed the way I do my job. If anything, my feelings for South Korea are even stronger now. The response was magnificent, from the national assemblyman who helped wrestle my attacker to the floor, to the person who drove me to hospital and the doctors who treated me. The support my wife and I received has had a huge impact on us.
Interview: Justin McCurry
We used a gun carriage to transport the coffin. Im holding the reins and the lady next to me was from the funeral directors. We had footmen and a couple of outriders in armour, dressed the way Richard would have dressed in battle. Their horses were quite naughty, but not as bad as the police horses. I was very proud of how well-behaved mine were on the day the two in front are Awi and Cora, with Egor and Hagrid in the back.
We started off at the battlefield and made our way all around the city. I took over from the motor hearse on the outskirts of the city centre, then we went to church for a small service. From there, he was loaded on to the gun carriage and we had the procession to the cathedral. Id asked the council how many people they were expecting, and they had no idea: it could be 1,000, 10,000. On the day, there were tens of thousands. I was gobsmacked.
The atmosphere was surreal. Ive competed, driving horses in front of 50,000 roaring people, and taken part in funeral processions that were pin-drop quiet, but this was something else: you couldnt hear a thing apart from the horses hooves and a sort of hum of electricity from the bystanders. I had to watch the horses, because it was a very slow pace, mostly downhill, which is hard for them, but I kept taking glances at all the people. All the way round, they were throwing white roses; when we finished, the carriage was covered in flowers. The last time I saw that was at Dianas funeral.
I didnt know a great deal about Richard until they found him. When I became involved in the funeral, I started to read up on him. He was quite a rogue, a fascinating man. Its incredible that they found him in a car park and could identify him. Its an amazing piece of history.
Interview: Rosie Ifould