• December 28, 2015

Pictures We Love: Where Human Stories Meet the Elements

Proof Staff

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.

Picture of three people sitting inside of a tent around a small fire, one of the men has his head in his hands
Exhausted and disappointed, Cory (left) and Mark sit by the fire in Pangnamdim, one of the last villages on the trek out of the jungle. “We wanted an old-school adventure, and we got one,” says Mark. As for success? “The mountain always decides.”
Point of No Return,” September 2015
Photograph by Renan Ozturk

Sadie Quarrier, Senior Photo Editor, National Geographic Magazine

This evocative image by filmmaker/photographer Renan Ozturk from the “Point of No Return” story that I edited has personal impact for me. This picture was made at the very end of a tortured expedition—300 miles of jungle trekking through remote Myanmar, with massive gear, equipment, and food cuts, followed by an attempted summit of one of the highest, most remote, and least climbed peaks in southeast Asia.

Renan captured a compelling moment that sums up the complete physical and emotional exhaustion of the team, including that of writer and veteran climber Mark Jenkins (right), who lost close to 25 pounds. The light on his gaunt, shirtless body exposes the bulging veins, and the hand gesture to the head shows his weariness and possible despair. Adding to the scene are photographer Cory Richards staring into the fire and climber Emily Harrington’s hands clutching her mug. This single image goes a long way toward conveying what this team endured.

Photo of a parade in New Orleans, the original image warped and tie-dyed looking because of water damage
An image of a parade in 1990s New Orleans appears cracked and tie-dyed. The negative sustained water damage during Hurricane Katrina but was restored five years later.
Warped and Waterlogged: A Damaged Photo Collection Takes on New Life,” October 2015
Photograph by Chandra McCormick

Becky Harlan, Associate Web Producer, Blogs

Nothing is permanent. Our memories are fluid, warped by experience. This photo of a second line parade, taken by Chandra McCormick in 1990s New Orleans, is a testament to that. At its capture, the image documented the iconic qualities of New Orleans embodied in its residents—celebration, culture, and community.

But the story doesn’t stop there.

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, McCormick and her husband, photographer Keith Calhoun, thought they lost 30 years of their work, including this photo, to water damage. But through the encouragement of friends and family, they froze the negatives for five years until they were able to secure funding for their restoration.

Though cracked and tie-dyed, these negatives document the New Orleans that existed before Katrina—in many ways a New Orleans that perseveres. But the images also bear physical witness to the effects of trauma, revealing the resilience of people who don’t give up while testifying that they have been irrevocably changed.

Three portraits of people dressed in fur clothing as they sit outside in the Arctic and watch a movie projected onto an iceberg, the blue color cast on their faces
A movie projected onto an iceberg lights up the faces of two girls from the island town of Uummannaq, Nielsine (far left) and Jensigne (right), and of hunter Joas Korneliussen. The movie is Inuk—the tale of an Inuit boy, raised in the city, who returns to the region and discovers traditional hunting.
How Melting Ice Changes One Country’s Way of Life,” November 2015
Photograph by Ciril Jazbec

Jenny Trucano, Business Manager, National Geographic Magazine

When the lights dim and a hush settles over a cinema, the thrill of going to the movies begins. As anyone who has been to a drive-in theater knows, watching movies under a dark night sky makes the experience even more special. When Ciril Jazbec photographed moviegoers in Uummannaq, Greenland, he perfectly captured a feeling we can all relate to—losing ourselves in another time and place as we get pulled into a story.

But Ciril also transports us to Uummannaq, a tiny village in Greenland where people arrive on snowmobiles to watch a movie projected on an iceberg under the auroras. Pure magic.

Discover more of our favorite images from 2015 in these related “Pictures We Love” posts:

There are 2 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Silas S
    December 30, 2015

    Ciril, an award-winning, young photographer of a different genre seems to manage things very well.

  2. tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead
    December 28, 2015

    Hat off these shots! My daughter has restored one or two of my ancestor’s shots dating back to the 19th century.
    Warm regards from Mauritius.

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