National Geographic: 14 best photographs of the decade

Journey through National Geographic’s most powerful photographs: 2010-2019

Monday, December 30, 2019,
By Susan Goldberg
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti
In early 2013 National Geographic writer Paul Salopek took the first steps, literally, in a ...
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti In early 2013 National Geographic writer Paul Salopek took the first steps, literally, in a walk he expected would last seven years—21,000 miles, through four continents, retracing the first great human migrations from East Africa through the Americas. Joining him in Djibouti, along the Red Sea shore, photographer John Stanmeyer was wandering one evening when he came upon this moonlight tableau: People hoping for a mobile signal from neighboring Somalia. “I was astonished,” Stanmeyer says. “The symbol of migration today, where the only tenuous link we have to our loved ones during the act of migration is the ubiquitous phones.” As for Salopek? Still walking. Most recent stop: Myanmar. He has 13,000 miles to go.
Photograph by John Stanmeyer

Say the words “National Geographic,” and the first thing that comes to mind is photography.

We are known, and have been for most of the past 130 years, for taking people on visual journeys into every corner of the Earth—from the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, from jungles to deserts, from the biggest metropolises to the most remote countrysides. In the past 10 years alone, our photographers have taken 21,613,329 images in the quest to document life on this planet for our print and digital platforms. More than 21.6 million images! That’s an amazing number—and a bit terrifying if you try to narrow it down to some kind of “best” or “favourites” list.

But as the 2010s draw to a close, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve chosen images by 14 photographers that have resonated most with us in the past decade: A bear feeding on bison in an iconic American landscape. An endangered pangolin and her baby. The face of a woman who died, soon to be transplanted onto the face of another woman who wanted a second chance at life. A child bride in Yemen. The confident, direct gaze of a nine-year-old transgender girl from Kansas City, Missouri. You may have a different list of National Geographic photos that spoke most strongly to you over the past 10 years. There are, of course, no “right” answers—just images that matter to you, that touch your heart, and that can help bring awareness to make the world a better place.

Thanks for reading National Geographic.

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