It is hard to see the middle when the opposite sides of a topic are so extreme. Islam has been the subject of scrutiny for over 15 years, with radical Islamists captivating attention overseas with violent acts and radical anti-Muslim citizens doing the same in the United States. This series by National Geographic isn’t a new exploration of a varied, complex, vibrant religion, but it is an excellent reminder of how beautiful and interesting things can be outside of the extremes.
—Kate Bubacz, deputy photo director, BuzzFeed News
The first images released of the Chibok girls after they'd been abducted from their school in Nigeria reverberated around the world — images of scared girls dressed in dark gowns, their lives forever altered. Over the past four years, the Nigerian government has negotiated the release of over 100 girls. Here, the New York Times and photographer Adam Ferguson give dozens of these women a chance to change the narrative put forth in those first images. Photographed in intimate lighting and beautiful, bold garments, we see women working hard not to be defined by those awful four years in captivity, while also constantly thinking of the friends that are still there. As you scroll through text and portraits, a few of them come to life as video, a reminder that these are real women, not "poster women," trying to reframe their future as something more than Boko Haram victims.
—Laura Geiser, photo editor, BuzzFeed News
Ida Guldbaek Arentsen’s skillful use of physical intimacy with her subject is so appropriate for telling the story of the small and secluded drag community in Beirut. I love how without having to show the madness and extravaganza usually happening at these runway events, readers are not deprived of feeling the energy of the scenes. The photographs of drag queens during their quiet moments backstage allow us to learn more about why they continue to persevere with their passion.
—Anna Mendoza, photo editor, BuzzFeed Australia
It is not an exaggeration in the slightest to describe the work of Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra as mesmerizing. Since the 1980s, the artist has captured striking photographs in a unique style of portraiture all her own — at first calm and simplistic on the surface, slowly giving weight to the subtle intricacies of posture, fashion, and psyche. On the occasion of Dijkstra's new book, WO MEN, which focuses entirely on her portraits of women and girls, Artsy writer Alexxa Gotthardt offers a crash course on the brilliant career of Rineke Dijkstra.
—Gabriel H. Sanchez, photo essay editor, BuzzFeed News
The collaborative ballet between photographer and subject is rarely seen until things go seriously sideways. This is an excellent example of the opposite: Citlali Fabian’s portraits of Oaxacan women are moody, timeless, and captivating. At first glance, the images pull heavy influence from historical archives, but the racist and foreign gazes that often taint the work from other eras are absent here. Instead, the women appear as unique individuals with their own power and perspective to offer.
In this Reuters piece, former North Korean residents talk about items they brought with them and continue to hold onto from their previous life. Reading the headline, I thought it would be one of the usual write-ups narrating the harrowing escape from an equally harrowing life in the north. But this compilation includes some of the most diverse stories I've read out there, from defectors to those who left against their will. And their stories, along with the artefacts they've kept, become pieces of the puzzle to understanding life in the most secretive country in the world.
Yasin Osman talks about legacy and vulnerability in this moving photo essay showcasing the work he made in homage to his late grandmother. Somalia is way too often portrayed as a place of suffering, strife, and endemic social issues. This isn’t inaccurate per se, but it is reductive to the scope of the human experience, which Osman does a nuanced job of showing.
Here are the most moving and breathtaking pictures from the past week.