Photograph by John Stanmeyer, National Geographic
Photograph by John Stanmeyer, National Geographic

What are the best photos of the decade?

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By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences

Searching for a home. Searching for peace.

Nat Geo’s Photos of the Decade reflect a world on the move, evidenced by John Stanmeyer’s 2013 World Press Photo of the Year of impoverished African migrants on the shore in Djibouti, searching for a cellphone signal to connect with loved ones.

Stephanie Sinclair's searing documentation of child brides (below) reflects a history of subjugation that seems to many from another time.

Take a look at the 15 photos here, chosen from 21,613,329 (!) images.

You may have a different crop of favorites. "There are, of course, no 'right' answers," says our editor-in-chief, Susan Goldberg, "just images that matter to you, that touch your heart, and that can help bring awareness to make the world a better place."

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Today in a minute

The power of a picture: After 52 years, Stacey Pflaum found a photograph of the father she never met. He had died before she was born, in Vietnam. Friends searched online for her, finally tracking down an image of him on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website. "That's what I've been looking for all these years," Pflaum told the Associated Press.

Fact check alert: Tensions are rising in India after Hindu nationalist lawmakers passed a new citizenship act widely seen as discriminating against the nation’s 200 million Muslims. Fact-checkers are alerting Indians to misleading photographs that falsely stir panic, such as an image of a massive Muslim celebration in Bangladesh that was incorrectly labeled as being a political protest in the Indian city of Mumbai, India Today reports.

Look up! There’s a chance the Cloud Appreciation Society has seen it also. Here are some of the group’s best photos of the year.

While we're at it: Here are our best photos of 2019, and our best unpublished photos of the year.

Your Instagram photo of the day

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Pure joy: When the glacial-tilled waters of this Canadian lake froze recently, Nat Geo photographer Pete McBride got on the turquoise wonder with figure skater Laura Kottlowski, who now documents the diminishing thickness of high mountain lake ice around the world as a way to record climate patterns and change. In an accompanying video, Kottlowski records the joy of McBride, who grew up playing hockey on lakes and ponds in the Rockies, as he carves the pristine ice on an infinite rink in the wild.

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Photo tip of the week

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On Monday, Debra Adams Simmons writes on the latest in history. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here to also get Victoria Jaggard on science, George Stone on travel, and Rachael Bale on animal and wildlife news.

One last glimpse

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Pioneering adventurers: Two brothers, Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, spent their lives as Grand Canyon photographers. In this image, published in August 1914, the brothers were rigging a rope system, risking a 300-foot fall. “They were not only climbers,” says our senior photo archivist, Sara Manco, “but skilled paddlers who ran the Colorado and the Green Rivers, photographing along the way.”

Related: How two brothers' Grand Canyon work has endured

This newsletter has been curated and edited by David Beard, and Eslah Attar selected the photographs. Have an idea or a link? We'd love to hear from you at Thanks for reading!