Best of 2021: Top 50 Photographs From Around the World

Best of 2021 - Fashion Photo by Kristina Makeeva

Photo: Kristina Makeeva (Website | Instagram | Facebook)

As the end of yet another year amidst a pandemic (that just won’t go away) quickly approaches, we’re all inclined to take pause and reflect on all that’s passed—good and bad. It’s been a tumultuous year full of highs and lows, but mainly a lot of gray area. In 2020, we were able to pinpoint the anomaly—the world was ravaged by a pandemic, a disastrous event unlike anything else in our lifetime. But 2021 posed a different set of challenges. We’re not quite out of the pandemic yet—now with another variant of the virus looming across the globe—yet we’ve been met with a glimmer of hope in the form of vaccines and their subsequent booster shots.

The world got a glimpse of the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” as shops, pubs, gyms, theaters, and more started slowly opening up again in 2021. The vaccines gave new hope to our global community, re-energizing the world. Many photographers, who had previously lost a lot of work due to travel restrictions and social distancing mandates, found new ways to document the world and continue to capture striking images. Despite the questionable state of the world in 2021, they have managed to photograph beauty, despair, and everything in between to great effect.

There’s a brilliant sense of resiliency and passion for life we’ve felt through these images taken over the last 12 months. More so than in years past, photographers seem to have focused on the unparalleled majesty of nature and the unwavering human spirit. The images that have stuck with us over the course of the year are varied in color, content, and composition; but they all share a sense of appreciation—appreciation for Earth, for life, for each other.

Though there isn’t one defining moment to fully capture the essence of 2021, it was undeniably a year of shared challenges. Across the world, we had paralleled obstacles to face and brilliant revelations of beauty all around us. Join us as we take a look back at some of the most breathtaking, humbling, soulful, and awe-inspiring photos of 2021.

Our selection of the “best photos of the year” run the gamut in 2021—beautiful landscapes, majestic wildlife, spectacular natural phenomena, and the unwavering human spirit are all at the forefront.

Lion Standing on a Hill of Bones

Photo: Simon Paul Needham (Website | Instagram)

Netherlands in Spring by Albert Dros

Photo: Albert Dros (Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube)

Sunset Over Wild Horse Beach in North Carolina

Photo: George Wang  (Instagram)

Aerial Shot of Landscapes in China

Photo: Florian Delalee (Website | Instagram)

Two Polar Bears Swimming in the Water by Martin Gregus

Photo: Martin Gregus (Website | Instagram)

RK Ryosuke Kosuge Photographer Travels Asia Photographing Beautiful Patterns in Everyday Life

Photo: RK (Website | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter)

Black Panther Photo

Photo: Will Burrard-Lucas (Website | Facebook | Instagram)

Cao Ky Nhan Fourth Place Landscape Winner Epson International Pano Awards

Photo: Cao Ky Nhan (Website | Instagram | Facebook)

Milky Way 2 Gigabyte Photo by Bartosz Wojczynski

Photo: Bartosz Wojczyński (Website | Instagram)

Meteor Over Mount Merapi in Indonesia

Photo: Gunarto Song (Instagram | 1x)

Mihail Minkov "Reflection"

Photo: Mihail Minkov (Website | Instagram)

Hiroki Nose "Autumn Snake"

Photo: Hiroki Nose (Instagram)

Nicky Bay Bioluminescent Mushrooms of Singapore

Photo: Nicky Bay (Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter)

Quadruple Microburst

Photo: Mike Olbinski (Website | Instagram | Gallery)

Susan Kyne Andrews "Between Showers"

Photo: Susan Kyne Andrews: (Instagram | Twitter)

Pink Algae Photo by Paolo Pettigiani

Photo: Paolo Pettigiani (Website | Instagram | Behance)

Chasing Illusions Photo by Fares Micue

Photo: Fares Micue (Instagram | Saatchi)

Albert Dros Netherlands Spring

Photo: Albert Dros (Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube)

Flora Borsi Sharing an Eye with a Swan

Photo: Flora Borsi (Website | Instagram | Behance)

Bird Photo by Jocelyn Anderson

Photo: Jocelyn Anderson (Website | Facebook | Instagram)

Otter Carrying Its Baby

Photo: Chee Kee Teo (FacebookInstagram)

Orca Sunset Photography

Photo: Mary Parkhill (Website | Facebook | Twitter)

Iceland Volcano Photography by Jan Erik Waider

Photo: Jan Erik Waider (Website | Facebook | Instagram)

Sun Photo by Andrew McCarthy

Photo: Andrew McCarthy (Website | Instagram)

Different Colors of the Moon

Photo: Marcella Giulia Pace (Website)

Green Turtle Photo by Aimee Jan

Photo: Aimee Jan (Website | Instagram)

Mads Nissen COVID Embrace World Press Photo of the Year

Photo: Mads Nissen (Website | Instagram)

Northern Lights Over Volcano Erupting in Iceland

Photo: Christopher Mathews (Instagram | Fine Art America)

Composite of Milky Way Over Easter Island Heads

Photo: Samir Belhamra (Website | Instagram | Facebook)

Lava Flowing from Iceland Volcano by Brian Emfinger

Photo: Brian Emfinger (Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter)

Light Painting Around Glastonbury Tor

Photo: Will Ferguson (Website | Instagram | TikTok)

ISS Transiting the Sun

Photo: Wang Letian (Website)

Portrait by an Erupting Volcano by Anna Isabella Christensen

Photo: Anna Isabella Christensen (Website | Facebook | Instagram)

Street Photography of Corner Store and Neon Lights

Photo: Omi Kim (Website | Instagram)

Liam Wong Tokyo After Dark Photography

Photo: Liam Wong (Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram)

"Around dead trees" by Gary Bhaztara

Photo: Gary Bhaztara (Instagram)

Best Photos of 2021 - "Greater Roadrunner" by Carolina Fraser

Photo: Carolina Fraser (Website | Instagram | Facebook)

Best Photos of 2021 - "Disinfection" by F.Dilek Uyar

Photo: F.Dilek Uyar (Website | Instagram | Facebook)

Best Photos of 2021 - Viral Whale Watching Photo by Eric J Smith

Photo: Eric Smith (Website | Instagram)

Benjamin Barakat

Photo: Benjamin Barakat (Website | Instagram)

Women Collecting Water from Dry River Bed

Photo: Sujon Adhikhary (Website | Instagram)

Insect Diversity

Photo: Pål Hermansen (Website | Instagram)

Bird Photo by Tom Leighton

Photo: Tom Leighton (Website | Instagram | Facebook )

Photo by James Kerwin

Photo: James Kerwin (Website | Instagram | Facebook)

Photo by Daniel Kordan

Photo: Daniel Kordan (Website | Instagram | Facebook)

Tornado Photo by Mitch Dobrowner

Photo: Mitch Dobrowner (Website | Instagram)

"Transylvanian Shepherds" by Istvan Kerekes

Photo: Istvan Kerekes (Website)

Related Articles:

Best of 2020: Top 60+ Photographs From Around the World

Best of 2019: Top 50 Photographs From Around the World

Best of 2018: Top 36 Photographs From Around the World

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