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WIDER IMAGE-Pictures of the Year: A picture and its story

* Reuters Pictures of the Year http://reut.rs/2nPiEjr

Dec 11 (Reuters) - Reuters photographers witnessed the biggest stories of 2017 -- from Donald Trump's first year as U.S. president to the flight of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, from Venezuela's crisis to the fall of Islamic State and a tower block inferno in London.

This feature presents some of their strongest images.

It also gives the photographers a chance to tell the stories behind their pictures and explain in their own words how the images were taken.

They talk about trekking through the night in South Sudan and flying over the Pacific Ocean to photograph a total eclipse.

They talk about watching drowning migrants being rescued in the Mediterranean and finding the best vantage point to capture Air Force One as it takes off from Las Vegas in the wake of the worst gun massacre in recent U.S. history.

Through it all, the photographers raise a question that shows how close they were to the action: in moments of crisis, should they take pictures or try to help?

"It is always hard to come to the realization that I am most helpful when I am taking pictures," said photographer Jonathan Bachman on his image of residents wading through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston.

"As an observer of suffering you have to believe that your images can make a difference."

Not all of the images are serious, of course. Some are quirky and fun and the boy who was enjoying mowing the White House lawn so much that he ignored Trump is just one example.

(Writing by Marika Kochiashvili; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Catherine Evans)