In Trump's America, the Second Amendment is alive and kicking. Follow photographer Kevin D. Liles as he travels into the wilderness with Security Force III%, an armed, Georgia-based militia with branches in several other states, as they discuss open carry laws, government overreach, and their hard-line interpretation of the Second Amendment.
—Gabriel H. Sanchez, photo essay editor, BuzzFeed News
The end results of plastic surgery are in the eye of the beholder, but the in-between moments of recovery are smartly captured by Lauren Greenfield. Greenfield has had a long career looking at society through a sharp and smart lens, and this series only adds to her already impressive body of work. These images are literally painful to look at but offer an interesting insight into the lengths people go for beauty.
—Kate Bubacz, senior photo editor, BuzzFeed News
As a Mexican-American with a similar upbringing to photographer Ryan Christopher Jones, this is a photo essay that truly resonates for me. In many ways, Jones’ photographic pilgrimage to his ancestral home speaks to the anxieties of so many second-generation immigrants in America. I can’t help but recall an old adage spoken from time to time at my family reunions — we’re a unique breed; too Mexican to fit into America and too American to fit into Mexico.
Alejandro Ibarra’s series condenses the emotional rollercoaster of coming out into a few relatable sentences that allow room for the reader and the individual to share the space and not get overwhelmed. The work feels much like witnessing a roundtable or a gathering at a bar where everyone has a something in common — something that Ibarra was trying for in his approach. This is a great way to kick off Pride Month.
For so many young people in Manenberg, South Africa, there is very little opportunity to escape from a life of crime and violence on the streets. In a region where the shadow of apartheid continues to handicap each new generation of youngsters, the high school prom is more than just a school event — it’s a moment of hope and dignity in a world stacked against them. Follow photographer and filmmaker Ilvy Njiokiktjien as she captures the best and the worst of growing up in South Africa.
Todd Heisler’s images of Storm Lake focus on the broad strokes of what makes up a town, and he lets the residents add in the color on their own. It’s a subtle approach, but it effectively allows the personalities and realities of the residents to come through more clearly than if he’d focused on the obvious characters or themes. There have been a lot of essays looking at the “portrait of America as it is right now,” but few have been as elegantly done.
Maybe it’s because Espen Rasmussen is an outsider, or maybe it’s just the difficult subject matter itself, but this series teeters between caricature and insight. The Norwegian photographer has been traveling around the country in an attempt to understand America in our post-election reality. Appalachia is an obvious choice to visit — it’s been the subject of far too many hand-wringing op-eds about what caused Trump to be elected (and who stands to gain/lose what). However, people are not easy to pigeonhole, and the images in aggregate start to speak to larger levels of complexity than most stories tackle, especially when Rasmussen gains access beyond the obvious.
Here are the most moving, sorrowful, and beautiful pictures from the past week.