National Geographic’s Stunning 2022 Pictures Of The Year Highlight Remarkable, Painstaking Work Behind Rare Imagery

A lowland tapir named Preciosa (Spanish for “Precious'') wanders through Brazil’s Emas National Park, illuminated by a hazy moon. The image is almost Surreal, as if the generally solitary herbivorous mammal was superimposed onto the dreamy landscape.

“They are pleasing, primal animals, and mostly nocturnal. We call them gardeners of the forest … and the area that they're in, which is the Cerrado, is also this kind of forgotten area, but it's the second largest ecological region in the Amazon and it's getting kind of decimated right now by industrial agriculture and cattle ranching,” photographer Katie Orlinsky explained at a recent unveiling event for National Geographic’s 2022 PICTURES OF THE YEAR at High Line Nine, New York’s leading experiential gallery. “It's highlighting the species that needs support and this area that needs more attention.”

Orlinsky’s otherworldly image is featured in a curated selection of large-scale prints that draw the viewer into spectacular scenes captured in remarkable shots by world-renowned photographers immersed in environments or moments that would otherwise never be seen by humans. For the last six years, Orlinsky has focused on climate change and the evolving relationships between people, animals, and the land. The work of such elite photographers requires patience, resilience, and enduring exposure to extreme elements and situations that challenge, even threaten, human existence.

“I was there almost two weeks, and I could not find Preciosa. Her name is Preciosa because she was an orphan and she was reintroduced to the park, and she would go visit the rangers when she was young and sneak food. And then she got a little more independent, so I'd say she's semi wild,” said Orlinsky. (The rangers) “were like, ‘oh, you'll be able to see Preciosa.’ Of course I couldn't. And then I gave up, and then there was this early morning and I'm here to photograph the moon, and then there was Preciosa.”

Model and activist Quannah Rose Chasinghorse raises her right arm above her head, standing in front of and framed by Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii (Monument Valley), a park the Diné administer. Born on Diné (Navajo) land in Arizona of Indigenous Hän Gwich’in (from Alaska and Canada) and Oglala Lakota (from South Dakota) ancestry, the striking woman leverages her status and skills as a model to amplify “voices, experiences, stories, cultures, and traditions” of Indigenous peoples.

Photographer Kiliii Yuyan, who uncovers mysteries and exposes truths in polar regions, wilderness, and Indigenous communities, arrived on site via horseback, and he knew he encountered the right spot to stop. “I could see the beams were starting to light up and I knew the land was telling me this is where this photograph is going to happen and Quannah (says) ‘Yeah, absolutely.”

“While we're doing actual pictures, I think one of the things that happens, even for someone like Quannah who is so used to being in front of the camera, everyone does this. You just are presenting yourself to the camera in the very beginning. You have to let all that stuff fall away, but sometimes there's not enough time to let it fall away. Part of the falling away is riding around on horseback,” said Yuyan. “One of the things I do sometimes with portrait subjects is to say, close your eyes and be here on this land, smell and hear those things way out in the distance, and feel grounded in your feet, actually be here.”

Chasinghorse strives to overcome stereotypes, and convey the “knowledge, strength, and power, not just trauma and pain” of Indigenous peoples. Yuyan’s powerful image conveys Chasinghorse’s essential message with elegance and ferocity.

Photographs that provoke the viewer perform as narratives that are impossible to tell with words alone and function as fine art. We marvel at these pictures, admiring the composition, the color, the lighting, the subjects, the figures, the landscapes, as every element collaborates to depict stories that seize moments, often lost in a nanosecond. These images delight us, inform us, and deepen our world view.

“We know that we have such an important platform in visual storytelling, and we believe that we have an opportunity to kind of open up our community and offer aspiring photographers the opportunity to share with us their picture of the year and hopefully use that to identify some interesting new talent, you know, bringing the next generation further into our mix,” said Nathan Lump, who was named National Geographic’s editor in chief in May.

Post a Comment