The last year has been difficult to summarize in just one word—although various news organizations and publishers have tried.
In many ways it has been a year of crisis and conflict. It’s been 10 months since Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, countries including Pakistan, India, and Somalia have faced unprecedented bouts of extreme weather compounded by climate change. Earthquakes and floods also impacted Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia, and Brazil among other countries. But 2022 has also brought us moments of promise. This year saw land returned to their Indigenous stewards the world over, from Australia to Kenya to the U.S. The latter also made history by banning fuel-dependent cars from driving on roads in California and Washington state—it’s a small step in the right direction. As a result, we have seen transformational changes take place that could impact generations to come. For example: 2022 saw leaders from 175 countries come together to work on a plastic waste treaty with the aim of reducing plastic pollution and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of the material.
Photographers and image-makers have been vital to documenting the year almost gone. And so, for our last site story of the year, we asked Atmos contributors to share some of their favorite photographs taken in 2022, reflecting on personal and collective moments of loss, joy, freedom, perseverance, and togetherness.
From Donavon Smallwood
This photograph was taken on the last day of my 2022 family reunion, reminding me of when I was a child just like my cousins pictured. The liberty provided by the swing and the shade is shared between the two pictured along with those not seen in the image.
From Olivia Lifungula
On our last day in Lanzarote, only a few hours before our flight back to London, the sky was clear for the first time that week, so we decided to get out at 4 a.m. to catch the sunrise. I couldn’t pick between two shots: one of the model sleeping mid-shot and one of the countless accidental double exposures I captured that morning because we were so exhausted. Despite the circumstances these images ended up becoming some of my favorites. The sounds of the ocean and colors of the sky were like nothing I have ever witnessed before.
From Stefan Dotter
My year was dominated by themes of erosion and disintegration, major shifts, and changes. The world around me gained more and more complexity as I was going along—so it was only natural that my mind kept shifting back to this specific image shot on my journey in the Amazon for Atmos. The purity of these souls and their incredible joy, while being faced with far more serious and crucial problems than I am. It gives me hope and shows me that underlying all of this, it isn‘t that complicated after all.
From Evan Benally Atwood
Colchuck Lake mirrors the landscape, offering a peaceful moment waking up in nature and in turn a quiet morning reflection. This picture was made right before I dropped my lens cap and fell halfway into the lake to get it back. The translation of “Colchuck” from the Chinook is “Cold Waters,” which is one of the best ways to wake your body up.
From Chieska Fortune Smith
Taken in Japan, this is a sliding door that we pass on a hill every time we are on the way to my parents’ house. I hadn’t seen this door for over three years due to the pandemic. To see it caused immediate joy, and relief, but then a bittersweetness to see that nothing had changed.
From Wade Schaul
Here is a photo pulled from my forthcoming project that touches on Western esotericism and its ties to my hometown of Oceanside, California. Looking at the photo reminds me of the many days spent wandering this particular property, and seeing the active work that goes into maintaining the land.
From Alice Mann
This image is titled Mohammed’s hands, Cape Town, 2022.
I have always been interested in activities that bring people together, and how a sense of community is fostered through mutual interests. The photograph is from a larger body of work, and represents my continued interrogation into these themes by focusing on horse ownership in contemporary South Africa.
From Vivek Vadoliya
This year I’ve felt how important it has been to just sit and listen, and contribute to community. It’s made me realize how we are in total conversation with our surroundings at all times, whether it’s the ocean, the sky, or the people around us.
From Arianna Lago
I took this picture from a plane returning home to Italy, a trip I arranged to reunite with my dear family and friends. I wanted to be back for the anniversary of my mum’s death; to be at the sea where my mum’s ashes are dispersed. I loved how the coastline looked so defined, especially because the blue shades of both sea and sky made everything look so ethereal, abstract, and pure. It reminded me of a piece of writing by the author Rebecca Solnit who writes about the blue of distance in the art of loss. Here is an excerpt:
For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains. “Longing,” says the poet Robert Hass, “because desire is full of endless distances.” Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world.
From Daphne Chouliaraki Milner
I took this picture of Marcel stretching just as the sun was rising. We were in eastern Thrace, near the border of Greece and Turkey, to visit my family for the first time since before the pandemic. The last year has brought with it tremendous challenges, but this image reminds me to look for the beauty in moments of quiet. Sometimes it’s all we have.
From Juan Brenner
This image is titled Griselda & Tuki, Chetumal, Mexico; 2022.
I bumped into Griselda on my last stretch (on my way to the airport) on a commission in the Southern Mexican Jungle. My assistant hated me as we had to unpack and put the camera together once again, but I could just not not shoot Griselda riding her bike with hey parrot pet on her head—a gorgeous detail that examplifies how the Mayan descendants are now more than ever in very close contact with nature.