As the year began to come to a close, we asked National Geographic staff who work closely with photography—through the magazine, Your Shot, News, Travel, and Proof—to choose a photo from 2015 that they just can’t stop thinking about. There’s no formula for what makes an image resonate—it can be a piercing gaze, the perfect light, or a tender moment that strikes a chord with our editors. Over the coming days, we’ll reveal the 2015 photographs they found most memorable and why.
Tyrone Turner and I worked together over the year on a series of stories about New Orleans leading up to the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. So much of the recovery of the heart and soul of New Orleans has to do with the people, and photographing people is something Tyrone is exceptionally good at. He has a way of finding and framing human moments that is lyrical. One of the commenters on these posts said: “I just wanna know how you stop the action and catch those crystal clear moments! STUNNING!”
I completely agree.
Finding a fresh angle on an event as well-documented as Mardi Gras is a challenge. Tyrone had the idea of creating tableaus—almost painterly representations of the drama and pageantry of a celebration in the moments before the main event takes place. It took some doing to get floor access to the private Zulu Ball, but it was well worth it. The joy and excitement of the participants comes through in the photographs. The look of reverence on this young girl’s face sums up the significance of this truly special occasion.
The concept of a “faceless portrait” was an idea I had been toying with for months. To be able to bring this idea to our photo community, Your Shot, and explore this theme with them for a few weeks through an assignment was an incredible joy.
This photo moved me for so many reasons. It is such a simple picture but with a rich story. The wide hallways with bars immediately put you in a nursing home. The young boy pushing his grandmother is a sweet and tender moment. And then there are the costumes. I can assume it’s Halloween, but I kind of hope that it’s not. Just another fun day of dress up. The grandmother’s silver hair flowing out of her matching crown, the pink fluffy dress and magical sleeves dominating the wheelchair, and her Jango Fett helping her into her room. This moment has stayed with me since I first saw it in February.
Carol Enquist, Senior Photo Editor, Traveler
To me this photograph perfectly captures the elite social scene of the “season.” At first glance, the jewelry and clothing suggest that this is a well-heeled crowd, and their happy expressions and interactions reveal that they’re savoring the day. As photographer Matt Moyer explains, “Everybody’s choosing their hat to represent something that they want to say.” One young woman wears a dainty fascinator, another dons a feminine cowboy hat. But your eye is instantly drawn to the woman in the center wearing an outrageous pink satin hat that seems to obscure her view. There is no way you can ignore this hat or the woman. The bottle of champagne on the table and the women leaning into the scene all direct your gaze to that same gigantic hat. Shot from this low angle, the picture makes you feel as if you’re sitting at the same table, listening to the animated conversations going on around you—as if you’re part of this sparkling social scene.
It’s messy and cluttered and marvelous—just like life, most days. The scene bursts with color and patterns and skin in varying shades of suntan. It makes me smile and long for the sun on my face and the smell of saltwater in the air. The frame within a frame allows the viewer to see the clothes vendor’s face as he watches a potential customer: an everyday moment captured and turned into something special à la Martin Parr. The photographer’s unusual perspective adds a bit of humor to this bright beach tableau.
Discover more of our favorite images from 2015 in these related “Pictures We Love” posts: