How photography helps us make sense of this unforgettable year

A deadly virus. Lives in lockdown. Passionate calls for justice. The images of 2020 reflected the humanity of a turbulent time.

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What was it like to be a photographer in 2020?

National Geographic photographers seem possessed of an inner GPS. Fueled by restless curiosity, they roam the planet in search of fresh perspectives to capture and new stories to tell. In 2020 this inner GPS took Ruddy Roye to the front lines of America’s racial reckoning and set David Guttenfelder on the trail of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the year’s losses and chaos, Anand Varma captured rare natural marvels, Hannah Reyes Morales recorded soothing scenes of peace, and Diana Markosian witnessed triumphs of the human will.

‘Our job is to be part of this struggle in a very positive way’
‘Our job is to be part of this struggle in a very positive way’
‘It was such a revelation, seeing this pandemic play out’
‘It was such a revelation, seeing this pandemic play out’
‘Everybody’s got an important story to tell’
‘Everybody’s got an important story to tell’
‘We helped students heal from the abrupt way their year ended’
‘We helped students heal from the abrupt way their year ended’
The pandemic dealt photographers setbacks—and surprises
The pandemic dealt photographers setbacks—and surprises
See more of 2020’s best photography, including discoveries, animals, travel, and moments we’ll never forget.

Watch This

Go behind the scenes with National Geographic editors to see and hear how the January 2021 “The Year in Pictures” special issue came together—from selecting the most powerful photographs to deciding on the themes, design direction, and cover.
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