2015 marked a year of increased connectivity across the globe. There was no shortage of suffering and tragedy – war and terror claimed lives in every corner of the world, while natural disasters tore apart families and communities. But within this, the world reached beyond borders, races, religions, and party lines to become even more connected, demanding bigger hearts and minds to move humanity forward.
Events driven by acceptance and progress highlighted the humanity in us all: gay marriage was legalized in the US and Ireland, landmark climate change deals were made to keep the planet safe, and minorities pushed back against the laws that restrain them, challenging governments to do better; artists and entertainers welcomed us into their art, providing momentary escapes from reality; athletes shared with us their victories and losses, allowing us to be part of a community; science took us beyond the atmosphere to see the phenomena of space, while the nature on our own planet gave us reason to marvel at the life that thrives around us.
These 100 photos, gathered from Shutterstock’s editorial collection, document the struggles and triumphs of 2015, as well as the small moments of brightness that kept us going every day.
Demonstrators march during a rally at the People’s Climate March in Rome, Italy, 29 Nov 2015. Activists marched in anticipation of the UN Climate Change Conference, where landmark international agreements were made to address global warming. Photo by Antonio Masiello/NurPhoto/REX Shutterstock.
Tens of thousands march from Paris’ Place De La Republique in a massive unity rally in remembrance and defiance of the January terrorist attacks in Paris in which 17 people died. Paris, France, Jan. 11, 2015. Photo by Heathcliff O’Malley/REX Shutterstock.
Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy meet with rescuers in the Aftermath of the Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crash, Seyne-les-Alpes, France, Mar. 25, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock.
Garissa University College students interact with their friends before leaving for home in Garissa, Kenya, April 4, 2015. The University was attacked by militants who killed 148 people. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
A young girl lights a candle in front of a police barrier during a Vigil for Mary Jane Veloso in Makati City, Philippines. April 28, 2015. Photo by ddp USA/REX Shutterstock.
Devante Hill makes a heart with his hands after he was hit with pepper spray during protests over the death of Freddie Gray. Baltimore, April 28, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
Baltimore City police use smoke canisters as they advance to clear those gathered to protest the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Baltimore, April 29, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
A protester does the iconic ‘Hands up don’t shoot’ pose while marching at a protest in Baltimore, April 29, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
Activists rally in Union Square in solidarity with Baltimore protestors demanding justice for the death of Freddie Gray. New York, April 29, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
A family wades through the wreckage of their earthquake damaged home in Nepal, May 1, 2015. Photo by Julian Bound/REX Shutterstock.
Duchess Kate and Prince William with newborn baby daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. London, May 2, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Hordle/REX Shutterstock.
Celebrations in Dublin after a referendum legalized same-sex marriage and amended the Constitution of Ireland. Ireland, May 23, 2015. Photo by Fran Veale/REX Shutterstock.
Geyan Madhu holds a photograph of his wife, who was killed in the April earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal. June 1, 2015. Nearly 9,000 people died in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its resulting aftershocks. Photo by Probal Rashid/REX Shutterstock.
74 years old Jhuthi lost her house in Nepal’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April. Nearly 3 million people have been displaced by the earthquake. Gorkha district, Nepal, June 1, 2015. Photo by Probal Rashid/REX Shutterstock.
The White House is illuminated with rainbow lights following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Washington D.C., June 26, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock.
Activists show their solidarity with Greece in a demonstration at Trafalgar Square, London, June 26, 2015. Greece has suffered from the economic recession, causing divisions in the EU over austerity measures. Photo by LNP/REX Shutterstock.
A girl stands in a flooded area in Peshawar, Pakistan. July 26, 2015. Monsoon rains cause deadly flooding every year in Pakistan. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
Cecil the Black maned Lion on the plains in Hwange National Park before he was killed by American dentist Walter Palmer. Zimbabwe, July 29, 2015. Photo by Paula French/REX Shutterstock.
Barack Obama and Pope Francis I stand for the national anthem of the Holy See during the welcoming ceremony at the National Mall, Washington DC. Sep. 23, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock.
Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama at United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, New York, Sept. 28, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock.
Donald Trump at a presidential campaign rally in Doral, Florida, Oct. 23, 2015. Photo by MediaPunch/REX Shutterstock.
Migrants approach the coast of the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Greece, Nov. 30, 2015. The massive influx of migrants and refugees to Europe has created divisions among many EU nations. Photo by Halit Onur Sandal/NurPhoto/REX Shutterstock.
Refugees and migrants arrive on the Greek Island of Lesbos, Greece, Oct. 11, 2015. Over one million migrants have made the trip to Europe, fleeing persecution and war in their countries. Photo by Danilo Balducci/REX Shutterstock.
An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris of a Russian passenger airplane which crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 on board. Egypt, Nov. 1, 2015. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
Migrants travel by boat from Cesme to the Greek island of Chios, Greece, Nov. 9, 2015. EU member states close to the Mediterranean Sea, like Greece and Italy, serve as the main point of entry for migrants. Photo by Halit Onur Sandal/NurPhoto/REX Shutterstock.
Protesters clash with the police over the police killing of Laquan McDonald in downtown Chicago. Nov. 24, 2015. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton hosts a town hall at Woodbury Middle School in Salem, New Hampshire, Dec. 8, 2015. Photo by Ryan McBride/ZUMA Wire/REX Shutterstock.
Duchess Kate of Cambridge at a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace, London, Dec. 8, 2015. Photo by Tim Rooke/REX Shutterstock.
Mourners light candles at Place de la Republique one week after the terror attacks in Paris, France. 20 Nov 2015. Photo by Charbonnier Nathanael/REX Shutterstock
A man places a flower at a memorial outside Le Petit Cambodge – one of the sites of the terror attacks that claimed 130 lives in Paris, France.16 Nov 2015. Photo by James Gourley/REX Shutterstock Fashion & Entertainment
Taylor Swift at the Billboard Music Awards, Las Vegas, May 17, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock.
Katy Perry performs during Super Bowl XLIX halftime, Arizona, Feb. 1, 2015. Photo by ddp USA/REX Shutterstock.
Sam Smith at 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Los Angeles, Feb. 8, 2015. Photo by Tonya Wise/REX Shutterstock.
Neil Patrick Harris hosts The 87th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Feb. 22, 2015. Photo by A.M.P.A.S./REX Shutterstock.
Eddie Redmayne accepts the Oscar for Performance by an actor in a Leading role for work on “The Theory of Everything,” Los Angeles, Feb. 22, 2015. Photo by A.M.P.A.S./REX Shutterstock.
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson on the Valentino show catwalk, Autumn Winter 2015, Paris Fashion Week. France, March 10, 2015. Photo by David Fisher/REX Shutterstock.
Poppy Delevingne at the Blossom Ball at Jo Malone, London, April 23, 2015. Photo by Nick Harvey/REX Shutterstock.
Viola Davis at 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards, Los Angeles, Jan. 25, 2015. Photo by Stewart Cook/REX Shutterstock.
Beyonce Knowles at the Costume Institute Gala Benefit celebrating China: Through the Looking Glass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 4, 2015. Photo by David Fisher/REX Shutterstock.
Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy at Mad Max: Fury Road premiere, Los Angeles, May 7, 2015. Photo by Eric Charbonneau/REX Shutterstock.
Naomi Watts at ‘Standing Tall’ premiere and opening ceremony of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, France, May 13, 2015. Photo by Matt Baron/BEI/REX Shutterstock.
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara at ‘Carol’ film premiere, 68th Cannes Film Festival, France, May 17, 2015. Photo by James McCauley/REX Shutterstock.
Miley Cyrus hosts the MTV Video Music Awards, Los Angeles, Aug. 30, 2015. Photo by Picture Perfect/REX Shutterstock.
Anna Wintour, Suki Waterhouse, Alexa Chung and Bella Thorne at Topshop Unique show, Spring Summer 2016, London Fashion Week, Britain, Sept. 20, 2015. Photo by Richard Young /REX Shutterstock.
Adele performing at the ‘Skavlan’ TV Show filming, London, Dec. 3, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock.
Kendall Jenner backstage at the Diane Von Furstenberg show for Spring Summer 2016 New York Fashion Week, New York, Sept. 13, 2015. Photo by Kyle Ericksen/WWD/REX Shutterstock.
Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch at Black Mass’ premiere, 59th BFI London Film Festival, London, Oct. 11, 2015. Photo by David Fisher/REX Shutterstock.
Daniel Craig at James Bond ‘Spectre’ CTBF film premiere, Royal Albert Hall, London, Oct. 26, 2015. Photo by David Fisher/REX Shutterstock.
Caitlyn Jenner at Glamour Women of the Year Awards, New York, Nov. 9, 2015. Photo by Stephen Lovekin/REX Shutterstock.
Selena Gomez performing on the catwalk at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Lexington Avenue Armory, New York, Nov. 10, 2015. Photo by Matt Baron/REX Shutterstock.
Taylor Swift in concert, Shanghai, Nov. 12, 2015. Photo by Imaginechina/REX Shutterstock.
Rihanna at Costume Institute Gala Benefit celebrating China: Through the Looking Glass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 4, 2015. Photo by David Fisher/REX Shutterstock.
Justin Bieber performs at the American Music Awards, Show, Los Angeles, Nov 22, 2015. Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety/REX Shutterstock.
David Beckham at The British Fashion Awards, London Coliseum, Britain. Nov 23, 2015. Photo by David Fisher/REX Shutterstock.
Colin Farrell at The Moet British Independent Film Awards, London, Dec. 6, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock.
Jennifer Lawrence at ‘Joy’ film premiere, New York, Dec. 13, 2015. Photo by Erik Pendzich/REX Shutterstock.
AMy Schumer at the ++GQ Men of the Year Party, Los Angeles, Dec 2015. Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX Shutterstock.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at ‘Sisters’ film premiere, New York, Dec. 8, 2015. Photo by Erik Pendzich/REX Shutterstock.
Niall Horan of One Direction in Concert in Gothenburg, Sweden. Jun 23, 2015. Photo by IBL/REX Shutterstock
Kendall Jenner at amfAR’s 22nd Cinema Against AIDS Gala, Cannes, France, May 21, 2015. Photo by REX Shutterstock. Sports
The US Womens soccer team celebrates their third World Cup victory, this one against Japan. BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, Canada, July 5, 2015. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
Simon Ammann of Switzerland during the Final Jump of 63rd Four Hills Tournament at the Paul Ausserleitner Schanze, Bischofshofen, Austria, Jan. 6, 2015. Photo by APA-PictureDesk GmbH/REX Shutterstock.
Serena Williams celebrates her championship point in the Ladies Final against Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 31, 2015. Photo by BPI/BPI/REX Shutterstock.
Tom Brady at Super Bowl XLIX, Arizona, Feb. 1, 2015. The New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to clinch their fourth Super Bowl win. Photo by ddp USA/REX Shutterstock.
Floyd Mayweather reacts after his welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao, Las Vegas, May 2, 2015. Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY/REX Shutterstock.
Chelsea’s John Terry lifts the Barclays Premier League trophy, London, May 24, 2015. Photo by Jed Leicester/BPI/REX Shutterstock.
Dustin Brown celebrates after winning the third set against Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London, July 2, 2015. Photo by BPI/BPI/REX Shutterstock.
Robbie “Maddo” Maddison rides his dirt bike on the iconic waves of Tahiti in French Polynesia, May 6, 2015. Photo by Stephens/REX Shutterstock.
Force India driver Sergio Perez escapes a crash unharmed after flipping upside down during the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix practice, Budapest, July 24, 2015. Photo by Action Press/REX Shutterstock.
Athletes and their shadows during the Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities. Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China, Aug. 15, 2015. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
Usain Bolt (Front) of Jamaica competes during the men’s 200m final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, Beijing, China, Aug. 27, 2015. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver De’Anthony Thomas celebrates his touchdown with teammate Brian Parker during the NFL Week 8 match between Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions played at Wembley Stadium, London, Nov. 1, 2015. Photo by Joe Toth/BPI/REX Shutterstock.
Ireland’s Robbie Brady celebrates scoring their first goal at the 1st leg of the UEFA 2016 European Championship Play-Off. Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nov. 13, 2015. Photo by Donall Farmer/INPHO/REX Shutterstock.
Ronda Rousey (red gloves) competes against Holly Holm (blue gloves) in a UFC fight, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Australia, Nov. 14, 2015. Record audiences watched expected champion, Rousey, get knocked out by surprise winner, Holm. Photo by ddp USA/REX Shutterstock.
Simone Biles (USA) competes in the Women’s Balance Beam Final at the 46th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships at the SSE Hydro Arena, Scotland, Nov. 1, 2015. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock. Around the World
A SpaceX Falcon 9 blasts off launchPad 40, Florida, Jan. 10, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
An airplane approaches Los Angeles International Airport and flies past the first full moon of the year, Los Angeles, Jan. 4, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
Devotees watching two cars on the ‘Wall of Death’ at the Magh Mela Festival, Allahabad, India, Feb. 1, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
Niagara Falls coated in ice, Ontario, Canada, Feb. 27, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
Firefighters battle a blaze caused by an explosion in a building on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, New York, March 26, 2015. Photo by Kristin Callahan/ACE Pictures/REX Shutterstock.
A black box flight data recorder, April 1, 2015. After several deadly plane crashes in 2014 and 2015, black boxes have been the main source of evidence. Photo by Jeffrey Milstein/REX Shutterstock.
Kim Jong-un at the Wonsan Baby Home and Orphanage in the run up to a ceremony for their completion, North Korea, June 1, 2015. Photo by Xinhua News Agency/REX Shutterstock.
Boy dressed as Spider-Man shows off his gymnastic skills amid ruins in Gaza, Palestinian Territories, Sept. 13. 2015. Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/REX Shutterstock
A lone man looks up at the Northern Lights in Hemnesberget, Norway, June 1, 2015. Photo by Tommy Eliassen/Solent News/REX Shutterstock.
Ladies swimming in the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia, June 6, 2015. Photo by Karolis Janulis/REX Shutterstock.
A Palestinian boy plays with fire crackers as he celebrates the beginning of Ramadan in Gaza City, Palestinian Territories, June 22, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/Rex Shutterstock.
This stunning picture shows the last thing a tasty worm sees before being snapped up by a little owl. July 1, 2015. Photo by Jamie Hall Photography/REX Shutterstock.
July’s second full moon shines next to the dome of the U.S. Capitol building, Washington D.C., July 31, 2015. Photo by Bill Ingalls/REX Shutterstock.
An ISS image of Tropical Storm Grace over the far Eastern Atlantic, Sept. 6, 2015. Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA/REX Shutterstock.
A photographer captures a squirrel joyously reaching towards the sky, Alberta, Canada, Jun. 6, 2015. Photo by Ian Duncan/REX Shutterstock
Elderly people take part in a rollator walker race, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sept. 9, 2015. Photo by Action Press/REX Shutterstock.
NASA confirms evidence that liquid water flows on today’s Mars, Sept. 28, 2015. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ.of Arizona/REX Shutterstock.
The New Horizons space probe made a flyby of Pluto, Oct. 8, 2015. Photo by JHUAPL/SwRI/REX Shutterstock.
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745, Oct. 22, 2015. Photo by NASA/ESA/REX Shutterstock.
A man works at a brickfield, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov. 9, 2015. Photo by Mohammad Ponir Hossain/ZUMA Wire/REX Shutterstock.
A Muslim boy jumps between trains to attend the Akheri Munajat, Bangladesh, Nov. 11, 2015. Photo by ZUMA/REX Shutterstock.
Widows celebrating Diwali, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, Nov. 11, 2015. Photo by Pacific Press/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire/REX Shutterstock.
Taronga Zoo celebrates the birth of rare Francois’ Langur, Sydney, Australia, Nov. 26, 2015. Photo by Taronga Zoo/REX Shutterstock.
Pope Francis I opens a ”Holy Door” at St Peter’s basilica to mark the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Vatican City, Dec. 8, 2015. Photo by Evandroinetti/Vaticanpool/Spazia/ZUMA Wire/REX Shutterstock.
The moment a firework exploded next to a thunder cloud in Ibiza, during the Assumption of Mary bank holiday celebrations. August 16, 2015. Photo by Justin Gardner/REX Shutterstock.