After a year of news stories that produced photos that can often be difficult or disturbing to view, I thought I’d take the time to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year. The following are images of volunteers at work, expressions of love and compassion, families and friends at play, and assistance being given to those in need. Alternate titles considered were “The Good Side of 2015,” “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” or simply “News Photos That Won't Make You Despair for the Fate of Humanity.” One of my favorite quotes is from Mr. Rogers, who once said that when he was young and saw scary things in the news, “My mother would say to me ‘look for the helpers—you will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
1.A Danish policeman plays a guessing game with a migrant girl at the E45 freeway north of Padborg, Denmark, on September 9, 2015. Many migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, were crossing through Denmark, trying to reach Sweden to seek asylum there. The police had closed the freeway for security reasons.
Claus Fisker / Scanpix Denmark / Reuters
2.After a French police dog named “Diesel” was killed during a police raid targeting a suspected plotter of the Paris attacks, Russia offered France the gift of a new police pup, named Dobrynya. Here, a Russian police officer holds Dobrynya, before a presentation to French police in the French Embassy in Moscow, Russia, on December 7, 2015.
Pavel Golovkin / AP
3.#BuyPens refugee Abdul Halim al-Attar, from Syria, sits next his daughter Reem, 4, as they look at a photo on a laptop during an interview with the Associated Press in Beirut on November 28, 2015. The photograph of al-Attar carrying his sleeping daughter on his shoulder while trying to sell pens to passing motorists in the scorching heat went viral this past summer and touched people across the world. Al-Attar is now running three businesses and helping other refugees in the city after an online crowdfunding campaign in his name collected $191,000.
Hussein Malla / AP
4.Argentine dancer Pablo Rafael Pereyra dips his partner Gabriela Fernanda Torres, as part of their dance routine in the stage category at the World Tango Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 21, 2015. Torres strikes a truly unique pose among the hundreds of dancers at the World Cup of Tango. The 37-year-old says she was paralyzed in a car accident when she was 2 years old, but nonetheless grew up with a love of dancing.
Natacha Pisarenko / AP
5.Cherilyn Wilson, 26, (left) and Chelsea Kane, 26, display their fists, with the message “Love Wins” written on them, as they pose at a celebration rally in West Hollywood, California, on June 26, 2015, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement.
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
6.Pelusa and Huellas romp on Pescadores beach in Chorrillos, Lima, Peru, on September 7, 2015. The pair are both paraplegic dogs equipped with wheelchairs. Sara Moran runs an animal shelter called Milagros Perrunos where she cares for stray dogs and shelters dogs injured from traffic accidents or domestic abuses. With donations and raffling, Moran purchases wheelchairs, food and medical treatment for the dogs at her shelter in Chorrillos.
Mariana Bazo / Reuters
7.Bella (left) and Daisy run through a forest covered in bluebells near Marlborough in southern England, on May 4, 2015.
Toby Melville / Reuters
8.Elephants spray villagers with water in celebration of the Songkran water festival in Thailand's Ayutthaya province, north of Bangkok, on April 10, 2015.
Chaiwat Subprasom / Reuters
9.42-year-old Ridwan Sururi prepares books while a boy selects book from the mobile library in Serang Village, Purbalingga, Indonesia, on May 5, 2015. Ridwan, a horse caretaker from Serang Village, started the mobile library using a horse named “Kudapustaka” in January of 2015 with book donations from a number of friends and other donors. Every week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday he visits nearby schools with Kudapustaka to offer books to the children.
Putu Sayoga / Getty
10.Madeleine Klonoski, 2, sits on her father's leg at a kite festival in Redondo Beach, California, on March 8, 2015.
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
11.Brooke and Cameron Rigby play Christmas music on the street in honor of a terminally-ill boy named Evan Leversage, with all proceeds being donated to the Leversage family in St. George, Ontario, Canada, on October 24, 2015. Evan had been living with inoperable brain cancer since he was two years old. His family organized an early Christmas celebration for him, with a full parade, in case seven-year-old Evan did not live to celebrate his last Christmas day on the traditional date of December 25. Evan passed away on December 6, about one month after his early Christmas.
Mark Blinch / Reuters
12.Paraguayan Anacleto Escobar (right), veteran of the Chaco War (1932-1935) fought between Paraguay and Bolivia, and his wife Cayetana Roman, smile during a ceremony coinciding with his 100th birthday in which they received a house—the first in their lives as owners—as a gift for his merits, in Neembucu, Paraguay, on January 7, 2015. The event was organized by the governor of the state of Neembucu, Carlos Silva, to honor Escobar.
AFP / Getty
13.A man throws a girl into the air during sunset as they spend time on the territory of Chersonesus Tavrichesky (Tauric Chersonesos) National Reserve in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, on July 25, 2015.
Pavel Rebrov / Reuters
14.Homa Rashid, a lawyer and volunteer at the Vafa Animal Shelter, rests with a dog, in the city of Hashtgerd 43 miles (73 kilometers) west of the capital Tehran, Iran. More than 500 dogs find care and affection at the Vafa Animal Shelter, which was established through an endowment in 2004 and is the country’s only licensed animal refuge.
Vahid Salemi / AP
15.Boys walk home for lunch from school in the village of Kogelo, west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, on July 16, 2015.
Thomas Mukoya / Reuters
16.A giant heart hangs in the sky at sunset after skywriter Nathan Hammond wrote several days-worth of messages, relating to hope and love, over New Orleans, during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, on May 2, 2015.
Gerald Herbert / AP
17.This picture taken on February 23, 2015, shows a polar bear robot “Robear” lifting a woman for a demonstration in Nagoya, central Japan. The Robear, developed by Riken Institute and Sumitomo Riko, has a polar cub-like face with big doe eyes, but packs enough power to transfer frail patients from a wheelchair to a bed or a bath. A historically low birth rate and ever-increasing life expectancy means Japan's population of elderly people is growing, while the pool of youngsters to look after them is shrinking.
Jiji Press / AFP / Getty
18.Children of laborers play on makeshift swings in Amritsar, India, on May 12, 2015.
Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty
19.Earthquake survivors Suresh Parihar and his daughter Sandhya play in a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, on April 26, 2015.
Manish Swarup / AP
20.Members of the general public enjoy the “BEACH” at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on August 25, 2015. The “BEACH” is an interactive architectural installation, with an ocean of nearly one million recyclable translucent plastic balls, that brings the experience of going to the beach indoors.
Alex Wong / Getty
21.Alabama quarterback Jake Coker embraces his delighted mother Michelle Spires after the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Florida on December 5, 2015, in Atlanta. Alabama won 29-15.
David Goldman / AP
22.A dog named Lucky gets a ride on the back of his owner near the beach in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, on September 20, 2015.
Hassan Ammar / AP
23.Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presents Syrian refugees with a child's winter jacket, after their arrival from Beirut at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, on December 11, 2015. After months of promises and weeks of preparation, the first Canadian government planeload of Syrian refugees landed in Toronto on Thursday.
Mark Blinch / Reuters
24.A young Thai man jumps in the air and cheers as his rocket takes off at the Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival on May 10, 2015, in Yasothon, Thailand. During the Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival, Thai residents launch enormous home-made rockets into the air to gain Buddhist merit and to celebrate the beginning of the rainy season.
Taylor Weidman / Getty
25.A fan relaxes during the seventh inning while watching a spring training baseball exhibition game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 22, 2015.
Chris Carlson / AP
26.Dairy cows nuzzle a barn cat as they wait to be milked at a farm in Granby, Quebec, on July 26, 2015.
Christinne Muschi / Reuters
27.Savannah Anderson kisses her sister Macy Saunders, age 6, as they sit on top of a car to view a sunflower field at sunset on September 5, 2015, near Lawrence, Kansas, The 40-acre field, planted annually by the Grinter family, draws hundreds during the weeklong late summer blossoming of the flowers.
Charlie Riedel / AP
28.Filipino boys play basketball in floodwaters from a swollen creek at a coastal village in Malabon, north of Manila, Philippines, on July 8, 2015. Typhoon Chan-Hom passing over the northeastern waters of the Philippines, dumping heavy rains over the capital, Manila, and the northern provinces.
Aaron Favila / AP
29.A woman plays with a kitten inside a line house in downtown Shanghai on April 12, 2015.
Carlos Barria / Reuters
30.A newlywed couple spell the word “LOVE” with their hands during a wedding photo shoot at the ancient temple of Kom Ombo, north of Aswan, southern Egypt, on April 30, 2015.
Mosa'ab Elshamy / AP
About the Author
Alan Taylor is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Photo section.