The AP Team, core AP Contributors and Picture Editors share their favourite photographs of 2022.
The AP Team’s best photographs of 2022
Our images of the year. At AP we see thousands of stunning images each year, so it’s a challenge to pick out the best. Here are our favourites from 2022 and the reasons why we like them so much.
Nigel Atherton, Editor
Ndakasi’s Passing by Brent Stirton, Canon EOS R5, 24-70mm, 1/160sec at f/2.8, ISO 3200
Of the many outstanding images taken this year, this one by Brent Stirton had the biggest emotional impact on me. But perhaps that’s because I have seen the powerful, Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary Virunga, which followed the heroic dedication of this man, André Bauma, and his fellow rangers in Rwanda’s Virunga National Park as they risk their lives to protect the world’s remaining mountain gorillas from poachers, armed militias and Western oil company thugs. (Over 200 rangers have been killed doing so.)
Bauma rescued Ndakasi as an orphaned baby, cared for her for 11 years and, in his own words, loved her like a daughter. Brent Stirton has a long track record of pulling at my heartstrings with his incredible work and this image, taken as Ndakasi died in Bauma’s arms, perfectly conveys the love and the heartbreak of that moment. It was a deserving winner of the Photojournalism award at this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year, currently on show at the Natural History Museum.
If you have Netflix, and haven’t seen Virunga, I urge you to do so. These people are true heroes.
Dog by Sabrina Garofoli, Canon EOS 5DS R, 24-105mm at 24mm, 1/250sec at f/4.5 ,ISO 400
This year’s Amateur Photographer of the Year competition produced some wonderful images but my clear favourite was this fantastic picture which won the Black and White round.
The composition is just perfect. I love the symmetry created by the central placement of the dog and, in the distance, its owner; the rows of trees leading the eye through the image, and the way that the white stripe on the dog’s head merges into the white line on the road. To top it off there is the dog’s expression, reminiscent of a canine Bond villain, which has been enhanced by the decision to crop below its eyes. It’s an endearingly witty image of a scene that any dog lover will immediately recognise.
Camo 32 by Thandiwe Muriu
There is an explosion of visual creativity going on in Africa right now. Photographers from across the continent, from Accra to Zanzibar, are gaining fans around the world with their bold visual styles and their fantastic use of colour. One of the most exciting is Kenyan artist Thandiwe Muriu, whose work is distinctive and unforgettable.
The concept is simple – models are photographed against bold pattered fabrics wearing the same fabric as a costume, with just their heads visible in the camouflage, and their eye-wear made from recycled household items. The results are certainly striking, but they also carry serious messages about identity, about empowerment, and the invisibility of women in African societies.
Nairobi-based Thandiwe won the Emerging Photographer of the Year award at this year’s Photo London and she was interviewed by AP in our 2 August issue this year.
Amy Davies, Features Editor
Heavenly Flamingos by Junji Takasago, Nikon Z 7, 80-400mm f/4-5.6 at 400mm, 1/3200sec at f/10, ISO 800
This ethereal and stunning image won the ‘Natural Artistry’ category of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022, and it’s not hard to see why.
The annual competition, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, is always one of my favourites to visit in London, and this year’s is no exception. Although I can see why the overall winner (‘The Big Buzz’ by Karine Aigner) took home the prize, for me, this one is a much more beautiful image that captured my attention for a far longer period of time.
Finding out more about its background was also powerful. The flamingos seen here are sitting on the world’s largest salt pan in south-west Bolivia. It’s sometimes known as the ‘mirror in the sky’, with the reflection shown in the shot part of its minimalist appeal. But, the salt pan is also home to one of Bolivia’s lithium mines – the very thing inside many of our devices, including smartphones and cameras. The mining of this resource is threatening the future of the area’s flamingos. Re-using and recycling electronics is something I’ve always been a keen advocate of – and for nature like this, it’s absolutely vital.
I also discovered that the photographer, Junji, had to battle through altitude sickness to get the shot – a testament to how far we’ll go for our art.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition runs until 2 July 2023 at the Natural History Museum. Adult tickets cost £17. Visit nhm.ac.uk for details.
Isabella Ruffatti, Online Writer
The Big Buzz, by Karine Aigner, Sony A7R III, Laowa 24mm f/14 2x macro probe lens, 1/1000sec, ISO 6400; Profoto strobe and wireless trigger
There were many great Wildlife Photographer of the Year photos, and I loved Karine Aigner’s ‘The Big Buzz’ because of its in-action POV that almost fools you into believing you’re the tiny insect caught up in the intensity of this moment. As with the rest of the other photos, I was also reminded of the magnificence of the natural world, and the danger our use of pesticides and climate change has put it in.
The fantastic Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition runs until 2 July 2023 at the Natural History Museum, London. Adult tickets cost £17. Visit nhm.ac.uk for more information.
Jessica Miller, Deputy Online Editor
Bare Land by Lorenzo Poli
Bare Land by Italian photographer Lorenzo Poli is one of the photographs from the series of diverse landscapes ‘Life on Earth’, which won the Landscape category of the Professional competition in the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards. I saw this photograph when visiting the awards exhibition.
For me, when admiring the blown-up photo on the wall of Somerset House, I felt I was looking at the desolate landscape of another planet or moon.
The photo in fact presents the bare, uninhabitable volcanic desert in the Icelandic Highlands. Where the earth is blended with lava and volcanic ashes, and the climatic conditions are so harsh that life doesn’t thrive for the majority of the year.
It looks otherworldly and cinematic in its presentation. It made me consider the world out there that some of us won’t ever get to experience. I’m a big fan of Lorenzo Poli’s photography, I recommend you look at his other landscape work too.
Andy Westlake, Technical Editor
Oh! Limpet Games by Simon Turnbull, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Winner of the Your View category in this year’s Landscape Photographer of the Year competition, this graphic abstract proves that landscapes can be just as striking when seen on a small, intimate scale, as in the grand sweeping vistas that are often so much more obvious.
Shot at Ayrmer Cove on the Devon coast, it depicts six limpets clinging stubbornly inside a channel that’s been sculpted into the extravagantly stratified rock. The composition is held together by the gentle S-curve that winds sinuously from corner to corner, while the muted colour palette of blue-greys and ochres imbues the scene with an aura of timelessness and tranquillity.
This is a photo that I’d love to see printed large, so that I could lose myself in the examination of every last curve and texture. It’s an object lesson in the value of keeping your eyes open for the little details, as they can so often reward you with the most striking results.
Geoff Harris, Deputy Editor
Food After Work by Faisal Azam, Sony A7 III, 35mm, 1/8000sec at f/2, ISO 320
Great images? I see them day in, day out as part of my job, but this World Food Programme for Life category winner from the 2022 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year contest really caught my eye.
This is one of my favourite photography competitions, and not just because AP is a media partner or I reached the finals myself before joining the magazine.
Food photography encompasses so many genres and skill-sets and the judges of the competition are wise enough to include a very wide range of categories, beyond pictures of fancy chow in fancy restaurants, perspiring chefs or toddlers ‘wearing’ their tea.
This image, taken in Bangladesh by Faisal Azam, has an epic, timeless quality that reminds me of Salgado in colour; it’s beautifully lit and composed, and I love the way he’s used the lunch holders as a striking graphic device.
There’s a strong story behind this picture too. ‘Brick factory workers in a dusty, unhealthy environment… get a short break to eat food brought from home in the dusty environment before starting work again. For a full day in this unhealthy place they earn very a small wage.’ Food for thought, indeed.
Joshua Waller, Online Editor
The Eye of God (C) by Weitang Liang, ASA N20 f/3.8 Newtonian telescope, FLI Proline 16803 camera, 500mm f/3.8, 22.5 hours total exposure.
Pareidolia is when we give meaning to a visual stimulus, and we often do this with inanimate objects, where we see faces in plug sockets and other places. In this photograph of Stars & Nebulae (from Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2022, Stars & Nebulae category – Winner) we can immediately see something that looks like a giant eye looking down on us from the Heavens.
Whether we believe in a ‘higher being’ or God-like entity, it’s amazing to see something so human (or God-like) staring down at us in this amazing capture. Astrophotography like this is a true passion, and as you can see from the 22.5 hour total exposure takes an incredible amount of effort, giving us an image that is everything but a quick snapshot!
Best photographs of 2022 contributors’ choices
Some of AP’s core contributors pick the key images that caught their attention during 2022
Tracy Calder, writer and co-founder Close-up Photographer of the Year
‘Holding On’ by Igor Altuna, Wildlife Photographer of the Year (developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London)
There’s always at least one entry to Wildlife Photographer of the Year that makes me cry and this year it’s Igor Altuna’s image of a leopardess carrying her prey – an adult baboon – to her cub in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
The baboon is dead, but her baby, clinging to her chest, is still very much alive. Its eyes are wide with fear, its toes splayed, and a crimson patch of blood decorates one foot. According to Altuna the cub played with the baby baboon for an hour before killing it – as though it were handed the animal as practice for hunting prey.
It’s a picture that gives rise to conflicting emotions: sadness for the baby, but maybe happiness for the cat who is now able to feed and educate her young. The picture is one of 25 in the running to win the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award 2022. To vote visit www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy/peoples-choice.
Damien Demolder, photographer and AP columnist
Summer Vacation by David Gilliver
It’s much easier to take miserable pictures than it is to take positive ones, so the lengths to which David Gilliver has gone to make something amusing out of the wretchedness of the ever-lasting Covid pandemic are much appreciated.
They are appreciated it seems not only by me but also by the judges of this year’s British Photography Awards, in which David’s miniature pool-life fantasy secured him first place in the Macro section. A simple shot now we’re looking at it, but an extremely clever one in its concept, its humour and its visual appeal. It cheers me up no end.
Ceremony Traditional dress, Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily from Gli Isolani (published by GOST Books 2022) by Alys Tomlinson
I have chosen this image by Alys Tomlinson for several reasons.
Mainly I have chosen it because it is not only a part of a brilliant project (From her book ‘Gli Isolani (The Islanders)’ published by Gost books) but is so beautifully shot and just so PHOTOGRAPHIC.
Frankly I tire of fashionable ‘artistic’ projects shot on out of date colour neg film and all looking so yawnsomely predictable and, dare I say it, often all looking the same?
Alys’ photography is so beautiful, so classic and so perfectly executed that it has no need for gimmicks. Like her, I shot for many years on a 5×4 and know what it’s like lugging all that kit around the world. It’s not easy, she has done it perfectly and Alys has, almost single handedly restored my faith in photography! Thank you…
Peter Dench, photographer, writer and Co-Director of Photo North Festival
Odesa by Yelena Yemchuk
My book of the year is Odesa by Yelena Yemchuk , published by GOST Books, May 2022. It’s the story of what she describes as her dream city, a place where she feels vivid and her ability to see dilates. Yelena made repeated trips to the Odesa Military Academy documenting the 16-17b year olds.
She wanted to record the faces of those who were preparing to fight. For context she began to photograph more widely, shooting everything that she could across the Black Sea city. I could have picked scores of images from the book bu this image in particular resonates.
Claire Gillo, freelance photographer and writer
Women protest against the Iranian state’s violent enforcement of the mandatory hijab and for women’s rights and freedoms by AFP PHOTO / UGC IMAGE
Since September this year I have been following the protests in Iran on the news. Like most people I have been horrified to hear about the brutal conditions the regime imposes onto the Iranian people – especially women.
There have been plenty of moments captured and shared since the uprising began, however this particular image taken at a mass gathering on the 40th day of Mahsa Amini death is undoubtedly moving. Despite not seeing her face, the girl is the star of the shot. She stands defiantly on the car signalling to her fellow protesters her need for freedom. Her hair cascading down her back and the upward pose of her arms in the air are symbolic.
The image is not technically perfect and has most likely been snapped on a phone but it represents so much. Although she is fighting for change and is undertaking an enormous battle at that moment she is peaceful and calm. As a viewer you are connected to her youth, vulnerability and emotions all at the same time.
This image represents unity, freedom and having a bravery I find admirable. This image makes me question, could I do the same? Although I like to think I could, I have doubts. The sacrifices these young people are making are enormous and need to be acknowledged.
Best photographs of 2022 picture editors’ choices
We asked some of the UK’s top picture editors to choose the most striking images that came across their desks during an eventful 2022
Russ O’Connell, Picture Editor, The Sunday Times Magazine
‘Yelena Burainchenko, injured when her apartment building was shelled by Russian forces. Doctors and nurses, who are on their knees, use green disinfectant to treat the open wounds’ by Jack Hill / The Times
I think I can safely say Ukraine has dominated the news & photography industry this year, for good reason, all the eyes of the world are on the conflict, hoping, praying for a good outcome, a resolution that is yet to come, all the meanwhile the people of Ukraine are the targets, the victims and the face of a nation willing to stand up to the oppression of the Russian State. If the Ukranian’s are one thing – they are a resilient nation, defiant even with the odds stacked against them.
To me this image captured by Jack Hill sums up the resilience of those Ukrainian people. A woman stands battered, bruised, literally stained by the horror of war, her shrapnel-peppered face has been stitched back together with a vibrant green disinfectant highlighting the treads of medical staff who came to her aid. Yelena Burainchenko is her name, injured when her apartment block was shelled during the Russian offensive on the city of Kharkiv back in March.
Despite her visible pain and trauma she stands proud, stares into Jack’s lens and in turn is making a statement that she is a survivor, a witness to the horror of war and a message for all of us to see how brutally indiscriminate this conflict really is.
Charles Bowden, Pictures at The Sunday Times
‘An Afghan woman begs for money from passing cars in the snow, with her child huddled beside her’ by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
Scott Peterson’s image of a mother begging for money with her child in freezing conditions showed the world the harrowing sight that drew the world’s attention to the plight befalling Afghanis. It was powerful and utterly necessary.
To discuss the colours, framing, eye contact and snow seem of trivial importance compared to the subjects at the centre of this stirring image but without Peterson’s skill in capturing them the power would be lost. We ran it on our front page alongside Christina Lamb’s story testifying to the state of the country being the worst she had ever seen in her 35 years as a reporter. With Peterson’s image the world stopped and listened.
Andy Greenacre, Director of Photography Telegraph Magazine
Residents take a dip in a paddling pool to cool off outside their home on July 19, 2022 in Leeds, United Kingdom by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
This photograph, shot in Leeds on the hottest day of the year, poses more questions than it answers. On a basic level it is ‘couple cool off in a paddling pool’, but scrutinised carefully, the more surreal and loaded the image becomes. The upturned chair, for example, the clothes on the line, the wheelie case (or is it a sound system?), the otherwise lifeless street… These and other details combine so that the image takes on a life larger than its own, a story within a story. Perhaps an unusual choice to illustrate the heatwave of 2022, but a photograph that will stand the test of time.
Jay Davies, Getty Images Director of Photography, News EMEA
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II with the Imperial State Crown resting on top into St. George’s Chapel on September 19, 2022 in Windsor, England by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
At times, the pomp and circumstance on display for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral ceremonies were a visual feast. At others, amid heaving crowds, security barriers and police in hi-vis jackets, it was a dog’s dinner. With so much visual clutter to organize in a frame, it could be challenging to compose images that felt iconic and conveyed the solemnity of the event.
This moment before the committal service at St George’s Chapel presented an opportunity to do just that. Ahead of the day, Jeff and his editor, Jane Sherwood, looked at images of previous royal funerals and suspected that there would be a brief moment to, with the right lens, get a clean shot of the coffin framed by the doorway, isolated against the darkness before it slipped from view. The combination of planning and technical skill – as well as the fortuitous position of the orb, crown and pallbearer’s white glove – made for one of the definitive images of the funeral.
Jim Powell, Picture Editor, The Observer
Women protest against the Iranian state’s violent enforcement of the mandatory hijab and for women’s rights and freedoms by AFP PHOTO / UGC IMAGE
We received many outstanding images from courageous photojournalists in 2022 – in particular from Ukraine by photographers such as Evgeny Maloletka in Mariupol and Alessio Mamo in Bucha, and also from photographers in Sri Lanka, Gaza and Somalia.
This image posted on Twitter encapsulates the bravery of the women protesting against the Iranian state’s violent enforcement of the mandatory hijab and for women’s rights and freedoms. The uprisings were ignited on 16 September following the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the morality police for wearing her hijab in an ‘improper’ way.
This photograph shows protestors gathering in their thousands in Amini’s home town of Saqqez to mark 40 days since her death, despite a ban by the security forces. These demonstrations have provoked a violent reaction: Iran’s security forces have killed at least 448 people since protests began more than two months ago, according to Iran Human Rights, who said that those killed included 60 children under the age of 18 and 29 women. The photograph is a testament to the Iranian girls and women who expose themselves to danger and risk their own lives with conviction and resolve.
Sean Conway, Getty Images Senior Picture Desk Editor
Two women dip their heads into the fountain to cool off in Trafalgar Square on July 19, 2022 in London, United Kingdom by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
One of my favourite images from 2022 is this image from our news photographer Dan Kitwood, of members of the public cooling off in Trafalgar Square’s fountain during a heatwave. Why do I think it makes a great picture? It encapsulates the experience of the hot weather in the city in July without having to resort to the cliche of people sunning themselves at a beach or park. Technically, the symmetry of the subjects’ position, the composition, and short depth of field focus your concentration on the subjects in a way that makes this a compelling image.
- Best photography exhibitions to see
- Best photography competitions to enter
- Best professional cameras
Plus, have a look at our choices for the best photography books of 2022, or have a look at the best photographs of 2021.
Featured image by AFP PHOTO / UGC IMAGE