The Masks We Wear

We wear masks for many reasons: for fun, for protection, or to make a statement. In turbulent public settings, obscuring one's face can protect an individual from retaliation while evoking fear and uncertainty in others. Donning the mask of a cultural, political, or religious figure can lend that person power and further his or her legacy. Those who wear masks to protect their faces from environmental hazards may also end up sending a message of caution to outside observers. In many cases, though, masks play a more lighthearted role, allowing the wearer to take part in a festival and become someone (or something) else for a time. I've gathered here a few recent images of people wearing masks, covering their faces for a wide variety of reasons.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Stephen Lam / Reuters

    The Animals of California’s Devastating Camp Fire

    Images of the pets, working animals, and wildlife that have become victims, evacuees, rescuers, and comforters after California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire

  • Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Metal Bull, First Snow, Raging Wildfires

    A fireworks festival in Burma, political turmoil in Sri Lanka, starlings over Rome, an Allosaurus in Paris, wintry scenes in northern China, and much more

  • - / AFP / Getty

    Dizzying Heights: Vertical Tourism in China

    Chinese developers have opened a series of new tourist attractions in some very lofty places. Glass-bottomed bridges, cliffside walkways, observation decks, and more

  • Charles Platiau / Reuters

    The Ubiquity of Smartphones, as Captured by Photographers

    The total number of smartphone users worldwide will reach an estimated 3 billion this year—here’s a look at the visual landscape.