Where 2012's Best Photos Came From

Yes, there was Aurora and there was Newtown, and there may have been a striking lack of coverage on Afghanistan and the drone war, but there was a handful of news events that seemed to make for the most striking photography.

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As the year comes to a close, publications are finishing off their respective years in review, and the last of the photo slideshows are now available, all the better for the world to waste 2012's final minutes upon. We've perused collections from The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, and Time and noticed some striking patterns: Yes, there was Aurora and there was Newtown, and there may have been a striking lack of coverage on Afghanistan and the drone war, but there was a handful of news events that seemed to make for the most striking photography. Here we bring you 15 of those story lines that made for the best of the best photos of 2012. (We've excluded the presidential election, since we have you covered on that front already.)

Costa Concordia
Images of the capsized Italian cruise ship popped up frequently in this year's best-of collections. Photographers captured the strange parallels between the half-drowned wreckage in the water and life on the shore.

Max Rossi/Reuters

Bonfire in San Bartolome de Pinares
Though perhaps less newsworthy than other events, the photos out of Spain that stemmed from this tradition honoring Saint Anthony, showed up on many a list for their striking, almost fantastical qualities.

Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Extreme Ice
The frigid coating of seemingly all of Europe last winter created seemingly ethereal landscapes.

Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

This conflict was one of the major news events of the year, and Rodrigo Abd's photo of a woman whose house was shelled by the Syrian Army became an instantly iconic image.

Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press

Aung San Suu Kyi's election campaign and win
The Nobel Peace Prize winner's successful year and poised demeanor made for galvanizing photographs.


Jamphel Yeshi's Immolation
The images of one man's protest of Hu Jintao's visit to India by a Tibetan exile became a cause to rally.

Manish Swarup/Associated Press

Super Moon
As the moon got as close to us as it could in May, the rare astrological occcurence made for cinematic images, like this one of a wrangler during the Montana Horses' annual horse drive.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Diamond Jubilee
The Brits do pomp and circumstance well, making the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne visually stimulating one.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

Nik Wallenda
From all different angles Wallenda's walk across Niagra Falls was terrifying and exciting and everything in between.

Mark Blinch/Reuters

The Olympics in general made for great photos, but images of the U.S.'s gymnastics team were the ones that captured our hearts.

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

If we loved photos of the Olympics for their displays of feats of strength, we were drawn to photos of the Paralympics for that same reason — paired with the sense that the competitors overcame the kind of insurmountable odds many of us could not have imagined facing.

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

Anders Breivik
The man who committed last year's massacre in Norway appeared in court this August displaying no remorse and made a gesture which he described as the salute of the Knights Templar, which according to the New York Times he claimed to have founded.


Pussy Riot
Whether displaying signs of resistance or simply sitting behind glass, the women of Russia's most notorious punk rock group sang loud with their faces.

Misha Japaridze/Associated Press

Hurricane Sandy 
The images of Sandy are indelible: the roller coaster swept to sea, Manhattan half dark. Perhaps none though is more heartbreaking than the statue of the Virgin Mary amid the destruction of Breezy Point.

Andrew Burton/Reuters

Bonus: Bear Falling From a Tree
Less of a continuous event and more of a moment: the bear caught mid-fall and tranquilized after being caught wandering around the University of Colorado Boulder is perhaps the quirkiest image of the year and something only a camera could catch.

Andy Duann/Associated Press

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