Our best photos from a fraught spring capture turmoil—and moments of grace

From mask-wearing to rule breaking, the coronavirus pandemic is still colouring our daily experiences. But life goes on—and our photographers are capturing it, from historic protests against police brutality to the launch of a new era of spaceflight.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020,
By National Geographic Photographers

This year continues to be marked by the life-altering and—all too often—life-ending coronavirus.

From Seoul to Baltimore, people are getting swabbed, donning face masks, and home schooling. But it’s hard to mask human nature—just take a family of musicians in Kenya who are composing ballads about hand sanitising as one small example.

The virus also isn’t stopping the human capacity to fight for change. Street protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, continue to this day. Photographers are capturing quiet moments of grace, such as the lone figure of a man who calls himself “Royal G” holding an American flag inscribed with the words “I can’t breathe” above police officers in New York City. “I’m here because I want to make a difference,” he said. “I’m here because I don’t believe in the violence.” And photographers are capturing moments of turmoil, such as the anguished moment after a protestor is struck in the eye by a rubber bullet.

Other global problems continue to define our times and capture our photographers’ imaginations, too, from the mountain that must be scaled to address the inequities surrounding girls’ education to the momentous toll that climate change is taking on the environment. But there is also beauty in unexpected places, such as a car wash that hires autistic adults, or a rocket taking us one step forward into a reinvigorated world of space travel, testament to our search for knowledge and scientific advancement no matter our circumstances.

In short: 2020 continues to be a visually astonishing year.

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