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52 Reasons to Love Photography

Our annual round-up isn’t just about great photography, but also about culturally significant phenomena related to photography. Photography is a ...

Our annual round-up isn’t just about great photography, but also about culturally significant phenomena related to photography. Photography is a language that’s created everyday by billions of people around the world. Three years later, I can still declare that I Love Photography!

1. Because You Can Print Them On Marshmallows

Have you ever wondered what a photo *tastes* like? The answer, apparently, is marshmallow when you print your Instagram photos via Boomf. If you’re more of a cupcake person, you can always buy a dozen from Eleni’s like these we had printed of PhotoShelter CEO Andrew Fingerman.

Tasty Cupcakes

Photo by Chris Owyoung

2. Stock Photography Gets Its Soundtrack

In the vein of “Bad Lip Reading,” YouTube’s Getty Critics created a short titled “Getty Dubs: There’s a reason stock video doesn’t have sound.” But who knows, maybe they’d sell more with a humorous soundtrack.

3. A Photo with Your Younger Self 

In Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey returns from a trip across the universe to find that his daughter is now older than he. A curious quirk of relativity known as the Twin Paradox. Photographer Chino Otsuka creates her own brand of the Twin Paradox with herself by inserting her contemporary self into historical photos of herself. The effect is poignant with a dash of wistfulness. We’ll take a book, please.


Photo by Chino Otsuka

3. Stripper with a Camera

Strip cameras have been around since the 19th century and are most commonly associated with finish lines, but Adam Magyar custom created a high speed slit camera and then found the perfect subject: Subways. The resulting Stainless series is a mesmerizing example of technology and art perfectly paired.

4. That New York Skyline

Last year, it was James Kastner’s image of a gleaming One World Trade Center. This year, @amtraver captured sunlight streaming into a cloud soaked Manhattan skyline on her way to LaGuardia airport.


5. A Mother Keeps an Eye Out for Her Son

Moscow-based Elena Shumilova picked up her first camera in 2012. It must have come pre-loaded with some special Russian firmware, or she might have an incredible eye. Shumilova studied at the Moscow Institute of Architecture, and she credits her sketching and painting for helping her to develop an aesthetic style, which she puts to good use to capture images of her son and dog.


Photo by Elena Shumilova

6. Analog is Still Cool

The more digital we get, the more we yearn for the analog; the imperfect. Photographer Victoria Will took her tintype kit to Sundance and captured an award-winning set of portraits of actors with all their flaws. Jason Mamoa hasn’t looked so ominous since Game of Thrones, and the image of Philip Seymour Hoffman is haunting.

2014 Sundance TIn Type Portraits - Jason Momoa

Photo by Victoria Will

7. Found Photos of Detroit in the 70s

Detroit recently emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy – a reflection of the hard times that have befallen the once great city. Recently, commercial photographer Dave Jordano found a lost cache of black and white negatives that he shot in 1972 of a more vibrant city with all its personality. This photo captures the fashion, hairstyle and drink prices of another era.


Photo by Dave Jordano

8. Hello Kitty, the Photographer

Colombian Joana Toro came to New York to study English, but to make money, she found herself in Times Square donning a Hello Kitty costume with throngs of other costumed characters. She was immediately struck by the surrealness of a non-English-speaking Mickey Mouse or the Statue of Liberty being harassed by the cops, and used her camera to document her experience.


Photo by Joana Toro

9. Wacky Russian Wedding Photos

You might have thought those ridiculous memes of a shirtless Putin riding various animals was an isolated incident, but you were wrong. We’re not saying that the US doesn’t have its own share of ridic wedding photos, but these are pretty special. From Russia with Love. russianwedding

10. Fallon and Hamm Photobomb Tourists

Remember the time we visited Rockefeller Center and had our picture taken only to later realize that we had been photobombed by Jimmy Fallon and Jon Hamm? That totally reminds me of the time Jay Leno did that too. Oh wait, he didn’t. We <3 Jimmy. fallonhamm

11. Coral Timelapse

You know it’s alive, but it sure doesn’t look like it. But the wonder of time lapse allows us to see the intricate and dramatic movement of coral. This is no ordinary time lapse though. Daniel Stoupin stacked 3-12 still images to ensure that everything within his macro lens’ reach would be in focus. Each minute of video took three minutes to produce, but the results are worth it.

12. Tim Flach Incredible Animal Portraits 

We’ve seen a lot of animal photos, but we haven’t seen many like this. Tim Flach’s painterly portraits of animals should be hanging in a museum. This photo entitled “Jambo Head” combines perfect lighting with an equally strong pose in what could have been a movie poster for Planet of the Apes.


Photo by Tim Flach

13. Gary Fong Helps Defend Against Litigious Lawyer Groom 

An immigrant photographer gets hired by friend to photograph her wedding. After posting the images on social media, the groom (a lawyer) threatens to sue the photographer for the cost ($3800) plus $15,000 because he was unhappy with the images. Not knowing what to do, Nelson Tang reached out to Lightsphere inventor/photographer Gary Fong with no prior relationship in place. Gary was having none of this, and spearheaded the defense that got the lawsuit dropped, and went further to file a complaint with the Washington State Bar. Karma is a bitch, and the lawyer was forced to go through a rehabilitation program. Kudos to Gary for standing up for photographers in the best case name ever: Poon vs. Tang.

14. Larry Towell Covers Afghanistan Because Others Won’t

At a time when interest in Afghanistan has waned and major news organizations are no longer willing to front the costs and deal with the logistics to get photographers safely in the country, veteran photographer Larry Towell decided to do it himself. Why? Towell provides the answer in his book, Afghanistan: Larry Towell, “We are particularly vulnerable to the shrinking market, consisting mainly of gratis information, no assignments, and fierce competition from all quarters, especially for freelancers. But people are being sacrificed in America’s name, and we have the duty as human beings to help avoid the shedding of blood. We have the added obligation of scrutinizing the intentions of our political leaders. Our job is to hold them accountable.”


Photo by Larry Towell

15. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas  

Just when you think every photo has been taken, creativity boils over. Paul Pruitt re-invented the tired Santa portrait by creating a “Santa Experience” replete with set, props and a photojournalistic approach.


Photo by Paul Pruitt

16. Johnny Nguyen captures an iconic photo of protest 

Freelancer Johnny Nguyen was covering a Ferguson rally when he spotted a child in the crowd wearing a “Free Hugs” sign with tears in his eye. Sgt. Bret Barnum summoned Devonte Hart over and started to engage him in conversation, ending with a hug. Nguyen photographed the older white policeman embracing the younger black kid in a tearjerker of a photo – and an example of the relationship citizens and police should have. The story is a little deeper however because Hart is one of three siblings who were adopted by white parents after being extricated from a life filled with poverty and drugs. His mother, Jen Hart, told Paper Trail, “He has proven doctors, psychologists and teachers wrong. His future is most definitely not bleak, he is a shining star in this world. His light shines bright on everyone on his path.” Amazingly, this was Nguyen’s first published photo. We can’t wait for an encore.


Photo by Johnny Nguyen

17. Software can caption your images

Along with registering your copyright, captioning images is the bane of every photographer’s existence. But advances in machine learning and advanced image recognition has made it possible for computers to provide fairly accurate descriptions. What’s next? Ironic hastags?

18. Musuems Do Social Media Museums are typically thought of as stuffy institutions for old people, so it might shock you to find that some of them have cheeky presences on social media. LACMA joined the ephemeral messaging service Snapchat, which has previously been most associated with sexting, to combine popular cultural references with their art.


When Kim Kardashian tried to break the Internet with her Paper Magazine cover, the Met was ready for her.


19. Film Cameras Baffle Kids

In a tragic and funny sign of the times, the Fine Bros put a film camera in the hands of children and captured their reaction on tape, er, digital video. But before you get too nostalgic, listen to the wise and unfiltered words of a child, “”First you pay for the camera, then you pay for the for the film, then you get them developed, then you get your pictures?”

20. Keira Knightley Protests Photoshopping 

Actress Keira Knightley recently posed topless in Interview for Patrick Demarchelier with the caveat that the image would not be Photoshopped. In an interview with The Times, she stated “I’ve had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons…That [shoot] was one of the ones where I said: ‘OK, I’m fine doing the topless shot so long as you don’t make them any bigger or retouch.’ Because it does feel important to say it really doesn’t matter what shape you are.”


Photo by Patrick Demarchelier

21. Chance Faulkner Hid in a Trashcan to Get an Engagement Photo

How far would you go to get the shot? Canadian Chance Faulkner hid inside a trashcan with a telephoto lens to capture some charming lakeside engagement photos.


Photo by Chance Faulkner 

22. Sam Droege’s Amazing Macro Bee Photography

Colony collapse disorder is the term applied to the mysterious death of huge populations of bees, which are vital to the agricultural economy. Since 2001, USGS Biologist Sam Droege, the head of the Bee Inventory and Monitoring lab, has been taking incredible macro photos of North America’s 4000 bee species using a focus stacking technique developed by the US Army. The level of detail is staggering, and all of the photos are available through the USGS BIML Flickr feed.


Photo by Sam Droege

23. People Can’t Put Their Phones Down

In the aptly titled “The Death of Conversation,” babycakes romero captures the sad infatuation we have with our phones. With friends and family within arm’s reach from us, we’re seemingly more comfortable chatting with Siri than interacting irl. An incredibly compelling project of a depressing reality.


Photo by babycakes romero

24. The People Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed

You probably didn’t realize it, but those images you uploaded to Facebook might have been viewed by a human in the Philippines to ensure that they conform to the Terms of Service. There’s nothing they can do about all those dog photos, cat they do make sure (to their detriment) that you’re not inundated with beheadings, child pornography, and other graphic horrors.

25. Yukari Chikura Captures Tradition in Japan

The 2011 Japan earthquake generated a devastating tsunami, and also shook computer programmer Yukari Chikura into photographing imperiled traditions that were one more disaster from extinction. So with no photographic training, but an incredible eye, she trekked to northern Japan to capture an indelible record of a cultural goldmine.


Photo by Yukari Chikura


26. Leica Recreates Iconic Photos in Ad

We took umbrage with the claim, “We didn’t invent photography, but we invented photography.” On the other hand Leica has a rich heritage, and their 100th anniversary ad which recreates iconic photos was CLIO worthy. Can you name all the photos and the photographers who took them?

27. Principal Joins Student in Yearbook Photo

Draven Rodriguez wanted a memorable senior portrait with Vincent Giordano, so he preemptively created an online petition to support his laser cat concept, which quickly went viral. But it was all for naught because his cool principal Diane Wilkinson had a better idea. She joined him.


Photo by Trinacria Photography

28. Relonch

Photography is inherently social, so it’s no surprise that phones are getting better cameras and cameras are getting more connectivity options. We don’t know what the future will look like, but the Relonch is a step in the right direction. The case not only sports more juice for your camera, but also tacks on an APS-C sensor and a hardwired connection to your phone (no more flakey Bluetooth or WiFi). If you *really* want us to test one, we can probably fit that in to our schedule.


29. Romance Tourism

The phrase “sex tourism” might conjure images of creepy men visiting brothels in southeast Asia, but Danish photographer Sofie Amalie Klougart founding a thriving trade of women paying men for sex while working in Mombasa, Kenya. Far from being salacious, the photos conjure sadness and emptiness in these tourists’ lives like this start photo of a crying woman sitting on a couch.

Romance Tourism

Photo by Sofie Amalie Klougart

30. Nancy Newberry’s Texas

In the same way that Richard Linklater’s Boyhood presented an almost stream-of-consciousness view of a boy’s life, Nancy Newberry captured girlhood with her essay on Texas that tries to look beyond the traditional stereotypes of Friday Night Lights and BBQ. Yes, there are cheerleaders, horses, and vintage cars, but they all exist in a more serene view of the state. We love this line of cheerleaders seemingly vanishing behind a brick post.


Photo by Nancy Newberry

31. John Malkovich Stars in Iconic Photos

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother perfectly captured the nuance of a Depression-era mother with her three children. But this is not that photo. This is John Malkovich recreating the scene with photographer Sandro Miller in a series entitled “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to Photographic Masters.” So can you recognize all the masters without cheating?


Photo by Sandro Miller

32. Ferguson

We’ll probably never know the true circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Brown, but we do know the photography coming out of Ferguson is some of the strongest photojournalism of the year. St. Louis Post Dispatch photographer Rob Cohen captured a protestor throwing back a canister of tear gas while wearing an American flag t-shirt and holding (but not spilling) a bag of chips. If that’s not an American, I don’t know what is.


Photo by Rob Cohen


33. Sad Dads at One Direction Concerts

We are all for better relations between fathers and daughters, especially in those trying tween and teen years. Angelina Castillo captured a lol-worthy series of dads with their daughters at One Direction concerts. The dads are apparently not fans.


Photo by Angelina Castillo


34. Tehching Hsieh Didn’t Sleep for a Year

It’s one thing to take a photo of yourself every day for a year of more. It’s another thing altogether to take a photo every hour for a year. But that’s what artist Tehching Hsieh did from 1980-1981, and he has 8,627 mugshots to prove it. Sydney’s Carriageworks created an exhibition for the artist, which also featured his encore: being tied to another artist with an 8-foot rope for one year. Don’t try this at home, kids.


35. Don’t choke handcuffed suspects

The photographic evidence doesn’t always lead to an indictment, but in this case, John Messner’s photos at least led to the firing forced retirement of Knox County cop Frank Phillips. Messner’s photo fulfills a tenet of photojournalism: to document abuse of power.


Photo by John Messner


36. Beautiful Paris Through the Viewfinder of a Pentax 67

That ineffable feeling you get the first time you gaze into a ground glass. Mathieu Maury and Antoine Pai rigged a Blackmagic pocket camera above an old Pentax 67 and started filming around Paris. As if the City of Lights needed any more help in the charm department.

37. Pregnant Husband

Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. When his pregnant wife didn’t feel like posing for stereotypical portraits, Justin Sylvester hired Harley K Photography to capture his distended belly instead. Now if only he would birth and nurse the baby too.


Photo by Harley K Photography

38. A Graphic Photo Spurs Reflection

In a remote village in India, two girls were gang-raped and hung by their scarves when they left their homes to use a nearby field as a toilet. A powerful, but graphic photo by Kuldeep Sharma, was unpublished by many news organizations. But The New York Times Lens Blog reached out to Sohan Lal, the father and uncle of the victims, to initiate a discussion about the image. Lal stated that he “didn’t have any problems in people taking the photographs; the problem is the thing that happened with our children.” A brutal, but honest assessment of a tragedy.


Photo by Kuldeep Sharma 

39. Immigration in Europe

Immigration is a huge topic not only in the US, but around the world as affluent cultures struggle to assimilate waves of immigrants looking for a better life. Alessandro Penso captured this amazing moment as a Moroccan immigrant was intentionally struck by a car in Corinth, Greece. The timing is impeccable, and the underlying message is devastating clear. You’re not welcome.


Photo by Alessandro Penso

40. Malaysian Crash Photos

It’s East vs West with innocent civilians caught in between. Magnum’s Jerome Sessini was one of the first photographers on the ground in eastern Ukraine where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile. His quiet essay is haunting like this image of a body that fell through the roof in Raspinoye, reminding us that some of the best conflict images don’t come from the frontline.


Photo by Jerome Sessini

41. Now That’s What I Call Time Lapse

Instagram’s Hyperlapse never lived up to the “hype” part of its name. Fortunately, Rob Whitworth blew our minds with one of the most beautiful and technically intricate time lapse movieswe’ve seen. Not a bad way to spend 363 hours.

42. All Aboard the SS Kid Rock!

We’re big fans of Andrew Hetherington, and well, what can we say about this image for GQ? A Kid Rock boat cruise, booze, rednecks, and a stripper who makes people cringe and Kid Rock burst out laughing. Picture perfect peak action.


Photo by Andrew Hetherington

43. Vivian Maier

If, per chance, you still haven’t heard of the french nanny/street photographer Vivian Maier, you are about to get a great holiday gift. Maier is a true genius of the artform, and the circumstances surrounding her archive are worthy of a Hollywood movie. In the meantime, this documentary or the new book will do.


44. Teru and Pam

Everyone knows that photos are the lifeblood of social media, so it was great to see Teru Kuwayama, an award-winning war photographer, and Pamela Chen, a National Geographic senior photo editor take positions at Facebook and Instagram respectively. The Terms of Use might still be onerous, but at least we know that seasoned pros are championing photography at their respective organizations.

45. Wildlife Fire Wedding Photos

Don’t you hate it when you plan your wedding, and a wildfire ruins the grand day? Photographer Josh Newton turned a frown upside down and created some of the most dramatic and beautiful wedding photos of the year. Just don’t ask him to recreate it.


Photo by Josh Newton


46. Jonas Bendiksen’s Brasil

During the hubbub around the World Cup in Brazil, Magnum’s Jonas Bendiksen took a high speed camera and shot a series of everything besides the games. The resulting slow motion “Still Films” are a mesmerizing portrait of Sao Paolo captured by a master.

47. The View From Above

It doesn’t always require a drone to get an interesting point of view from above. French photographer Florian Beaudenon’s Instant Life captured simple moments of life from inside people’s home with a camera. He states, “They have agreed to share a hobby, a moment of intimacy that is important to them and in which everyone can recognize himself.”


Photo by Florian Beaudenon

48. A Drone Flew Through Fireworks

We reached peak drone photography in 2014, which generated a lot of mediocre video. But every once in a while, new jaw dropping footage flooded our newsfeeds. Jos Stiglingh flew a drone through a West Palm Beach, FL fireworks display.

49. If They Gunned Me Down

In response to the shooting death of Michael Brown, high school senior Tyler Atkins tweeted a diptych of self-portraits to challenge how the media reinforces stereotypes by the selection of a photo. #IfTheyGunnedMeDown went viral, and raised valid questions about bias in the news media. Unfortunately, that didn’t help the Minneapolis Mayor.


50. Assholes of New York

For all its faults, we love Humans of New York. And the only thing better than HONY is College Humor’s parody entitled “Assholes of New York.” Using authentic HONY images, author Will Stephen rewrote captions that really capture the spirit of true jerks in Gotham.


51. Humorously Aligned Photos

The trend of aligning a record cover in front of one’s face (aka “sleeveface”) had its moment in the spotlight, then dear photograph had its 15 minutes juxtaposing old photos with real life. This year, Francois Dourlen combined movie stills with scenes from real life to create a series of humorous images that make us giddy with anticipation for what 2015 might bring.


Photo Illustration by François Dourlen


52. This

step 1: hide that book A photo posted by Loni (@lonidee) on

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