The same square footage that houses four people in the wealthy part of town would be what 40 people call home in Manila's slums. This photo story puts into perspective what it means to be disadvantaged in society: the real dangers this living arrangement comes with don't just start and end with cramped spaces; the resources that are immediately at the disposal of the upper class are spread thin across those on the bottom rung, if there even are any at all.
—Anna Mendoza, photo editor, BuzzFeed Australia
There's a fine line between fashion and art when it comes to photography. But for someone like Viviane Sassen, each realm offers its own creative possibilities that inform and inspire others. Known for her colorful and surreal images of life in South Africa, her pictures have also been featured in campaigns for companies like Adidas and Levis. Here, Sassen speaks to the Financial Times on her creative process and the concepts behind some of her most iconic images.
—Gabriel H. Sanchez, photo essay editor, BuzzFeed News
This is a fantastically candid look into the life of Muhammad Ali, and it's a great example of the glory days of magazine shoots. It’s hard to believe that the entire series was shot over the course of five days (and on film!), considering Ali's range of moments, moods, and locations. This is a visual treat for photo editors and sports fans alike. Spend some time reading through the interview as well.
—Kate Bubacz, deputy photo director, BuzzFeed News
Anuar Patjane's mesmerizingly beautiful underwater photographs of divers interacting with schools of fish have a dual purpose. These rich and romantic black and white images from Patjane's project, Underwater Realm, are meant to beguile but also educate the viewer on the abundance of life in the sea and how our actions — like overfishing — threaten their future. Per Patjane, “We see and care when a forest is gone because it is visible to everybody, but we don’t see when we destroy life underwater. ... By sharing the beauty of our oceans we might start to care more and build or strengthen the connection between us and the sea.”
—Laura Geiser, photo editor, BuzzFeed News
It may be hard to believe just how big Australia is; it’s very comparable in landmass to the 48 contiguous states of the US, but much of the country is desert and almost all of its population is living on the coast. While the wet season in central Australia has been photographed enough by the people on the ground, this feature gives us an idea of the literal bigger picture, showing a phenomenon that can only truly be appreciated in full when seen from above — way, way, wayyyy above from a satellite’s perspective. It’s the best use of Google Earth that I’ve seen to date.
The brave people shown in photographer Sophie Mayanne’s series, Behind the Scars, show the beauty and vulnerability of what it’s like to live with visible or large scars. These pictures, all unique and touching, show that for every scar we carry, there is a unique story to tell. From bone cancer to car accidents, the reality is that this can happen to any of us. Looks aren’t everything, and they definitely don’t reflect who we are deep down.
—Neah Gray, photo intern, BuzzFeed News
Jamal Jordan spent many years believing that the life he longed for — one of love and commitment with a man who looked like him — was impossible. Representation is incredibly important: If you can see it, you can be it. Here, Jordan offers his younger self and today's young adults what he so badly needed: six vignettes of queer couples of color. It's impossible not to smile as you scroll through the photos and read Jordan's text with learnings from each couple. Love is love is love, and thanks to Jordan, we can see it.
It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico. While much has been done to rebuild the island, many things have continued to remain the same. Puerto Rican photographer Erika P. Rodriguez has been documenting her homeland through photography for the past six years. But since Hurricane Maria, she has captured the struggles that many Puerto Ricans have endured to remain strong and united in the face of hardships. Many homes are still inhabitable and electricity is still sparse, and this profound series shows us the true reality of what it’s like to live in Puerto Rico today.
While Europe and the US wring their hands about their respective immigration crises, the consequences of their isolationist policies are playing out in real time as people denied entry are forced to travel back to their places of origin. The photos in this story only offer the barest glimpse of the reality of walking across the Sahara, but what the images can’t show is even more horrifying. Great work by Jerome Delay to get this story to the wider world — it is surely one that needs to be told as we consider what our borders and our societies signify.
Here are the most moving and breathtaking pictures from the past week.