As the end of yet another year amidst a pandemic (that just won’t go away) quickly approaches, we’re all inclined to take pause and reflect on all that’s passed—good and bad. It’s been a tumultuous year full of highs and lows, but mainly a lot of gray area. In 2020, we were able to pinpoint the anomaly—the world was ravaged by a pandemic, a disastrous event unlike anything else in our lifetime. But 2021 posed a different set of challenges. We’re not quite out of the pandemic yet—now with another variant of the virus looming across the globe—yet we’ve been met with a glimmer of hope in the form of vaccines and their subsequent booster shots.
The world got a glimpse of the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” as shops, pubs, gyms, theaters, and more started slowly opening up again in 2021. The vaccines gave new hope to our global community, re-energizing the world. Many photographers, who had previously lost a lot of work due to travel restrictions and social distancing mandates, found new ways to document the world and continue to capture striking images. Despite the questionable state of the world in 2021, they have managed to photograph beauty, despair, and everything in between to great effect.
There’s a brilliant sense of resiliency and passion for life we’ve felt through these images taken over the last 12 months. More so than in years past, photographers seem to have focused on the unparalleled majesty of nature and the unwavering human spirit. The images that have stuck with us over the course of the year are varied in color, content, and composition; but they all share a sense of appreciation—appreciation for Earth, for life, for each other.
Though there isn’t one defining moment to fully capture the essence of 2021, it was undeniably a year of shared challenges. Across the world, we had paralleled obstacles to face and brilliant revelations of beauty all around us. Join us as we take a look back at some of the most breathtaking, humbling, soulful, and awe-inspiring photos of 2021.
Our selection of the “best photos of the year” run the gamut in 2021—beautiful landscapes, majestic wildlife, spectacular natural phenomena, and the unwavering human spirit are all at the forefront.
Best of 2020: Top 60+ Photographs From Around the World
Best of 2019: Top 50 Photographs From Around the World
Best of 2018: Top 36 Photographs From Around the World
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