If 2017 was a photo, what would it be?

Some of our favorite photographers share the image they took that summed up their year.

December 15, 2017
Caroline Tompkins
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Big Sky," June, 2017   Photo by Caroline Tompkins

Earlier this year, I started thinking a lot about fire. I contacted local fire departments to see if they would let me shoot a test burn. I asked friends with land, "Could I burn a car at yours?" When they all asked why, I didn't have an answer. I just needed to. Pictures of fire felt so male. In June, I was driving towards Glacier National Park when I saw this trailer on fire. I think I got out of the car while it was still moving — always follow your magnets. I had already taken a few photos when I shrilly turned to the fire chief, "Is this even okay?" He looked back and said, "I don't give a damn what you do." He softly told to me that this was all part of renewal. It's a positive to fall back on, this is all part of renewal.

Cian Oba-Smith
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Kareem, North Philadelphia," from the series Concrete Horsemen, January 2017   Photo by Cian Oba-Smith

To me, 2017 has been a year of challenging the status quo. One of the only benefits of living in the worst political period of my personal memory is that with a brutal political climate comes a flourishing art scene driven by the need to resist prejudice in all forms. For me, this picture of Kareem, a member of an inner-city stable in North Philadelphia, represents defiance in the face of what feels like an insurmountable establishment. The stable has a lineage of over 100 years, an apt symbol of the often-forgotten contributions of people of color in the western world, the diversity of the black community, and the resilience of those marginalized by society.

Cait Oppermann
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Future Fruit," 2017   Photo by Cait Oppermann

2017 was a catastrophic year for America. For those who know it, as well as those who are blind to the damage being done each day. Still, I have hope that there's beauty on the other side. Nourishing fruit behind the fence. As a result of what's happened to our country this year, so many have taken the initiative and gotten involved in ways that have amazed me. The resistance and newfound attention from young people gives me hope that we'll somehow come out stronger on the other side.

Mancy Gant
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Admission to the Realm of Possibility," August 2017   Photo by Mancy Gant

This is a photo I shot for the Brown Girl Surf piece from the Paradise Issue. For me, it represents what I’ve learned most this year: the power of manifestation, and a change of your mind to change your possibilities. I was in a place unfamiliar and uncomfortable to me in the cold ocean water, but this allowed me to produce an image I didn’t know yet was possible for me. I grew from these lessons.

Aaron Wojack
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Cave," January 2017   Photo by Aaron Wojack

Looking for a photo that sums up 2017, I laughed when I came across this one — hopefully the humor comes through. Comedy has been a significant coping mechanism. Fight the power!

Akasha Rabut
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "If 2017 was a color it would be purple," January 2017   Photo by Akasha Rabut

In 2017, 500 million women ban together in a worldwide protest to advocate policies regarding women's rights. The voices of women are heard as they take down powerful men who sexually harass them, and Saudi Arabia announces that the ban on women driving will be lifted. 2017 celebrates feminine energy and nurtures female independence. This image is a reminder that women are powerful, courageous, and we shouldn't be afraid to express ourselves. The color purple represents peace, pride, mystery, independence, magic, and feminine energy. If 2017 was a color it would be purple.

Naima Green
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Untitled (Riis)," 2017   Photo by Naima Green

September 24th was my last beach day. Being in the Rockaways has come to represent summer and all that it entails: floating, freedom, and pleasure. This day was completely unorganized. I remember telling people we have to go to the beach; I headed there alone because I refused to waste a moment of sun. I knew maybe three people in the group, and it kept growing. We laughed, swam, and someone built a fort. It was one of the happiest days in recent memory.

Nathan Bajar
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "SP-404s at Kinfolk," November 2017   Photo by Nathan Bajar

My 2017 can be summed up one phrase: "Fuck it, just do it." Making things that are personal and putting yourself out there has always been a daunting task for me. So this year I have been really trying to own "it" and have confidence in myself and in the things I make. A lot of this confidence comes from watching my peers create and perform and thinking, Hey, if they can do it, I can do it too. And I played one of my first shows performing my own music at Kinfolk and it was the most fun I've had my whole life.

Tyler Mitchell
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Untitled (Boys Tired Of It All)," June 2017   Photo by Tyler Mitchell

This year is as much a confused mixture as these two boys in suits in the forest just tryna live.

Annie Collinge
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Casper," March 2017   Photo by Annie Collinge

This photo sums up 2017 for me as it represents me getting to know someone else’s perspective of what is around us.

Mary Kang
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Untitled," January 2017   Photo by Mary Kang

In the midst of challenges, 2017 has given me a lot of “connection through disconnection,” to quote my friend Kaidon Ho, and courage to be hopeful, while also grounded in reality in order to move forward.

Amy Li
If 2017 was a photo, what would it be? "Untitled," 2017   Photo by Amy Li

2017 was full of ups and downs for a lot of people, myself included. I think my anxiety has reached an all-time high. I did, however, find something that helped clear my head a bit. This is an aerial view of Norway. I never enjoyed flying on airplanes so to kill time and to ease my own restlessness, I would take photographs from the window. I found the process to be therapeutic. It helped me realize that while there are a lot of bad things happening around the world, seeing life go on when you're several thousand feet up in the air gives you some perspective. It also serves as a reminder that I have the power within me to overcome my own fears. To me, 2017 is the year where a lot of people are confronting their own fears and traumas and fighting them head on. With that said, I'm planning on taking flying lessons in 2018.

If 2017 was a photo, what would it be?