And the runners-up: The best unpublished photos of 2019.
What’s better than being able to choose the best photographs of the year? Getting to choose 19 more that shine a light on the year’s most important and provocative stories.
Putting together a visual story requires not just a photographer and writer, but the many editors who work behind the scenes. These various players make countless decisions along the way—from which light to capture at which second, to which photos will fit into the larger narrative of a story. So many details are considered in presenting the breadth and depth of a National Geographic feature.
But this also means that many of our favorites land on the cutting room floor.
There’s the lion slipping through sunbeams in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, a swirl of sea turtles that looks almost like abstract art, and those bare-chested men on a Pakistani beach.
Then of course there’s that rat diving headfirst into some New York City underworld of only its knowing, and with such aplomb.
So we’re seizing this moment to share the photos that still stick in our minds—and that we can’t resist sharing before the year is out. Enjoy.