This is a somber and brutally honest look at the lives left shattered in the wake of a mass shooting in the US. With their own words, the survivors and family and friends of victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, share their testimonies of this senseless tragedy. Photographer Jeff Vespa captures each word with all its poignancy, but it’s the look of their faces as they recount their experiences that will stay with you long after you read this story.
—Gabriel H. Sanchez, photo essay editor, BuzzFeed News
There’s a lot in this feature that makes so much sense when reporting on children traveling with the migrant caravan in Latin America. For one, it’s the closest to a firsthand witness you can get. Taking away the third-party element in the scene gives a more authentic account of the event. This story allows young people to dictate the narrative, to represent themselves and their experiences, and that’s something we don’t get to see often.
—Anna Mendoza, photo editor, BuzzFeed Australia
Photographer Tabitha Barnard’s deeply personal work on femininity, sexuality, and Christianity is like a hauntingly beautiful fever dream. “Cult of Womanhood” features images of her sisters exploring their identities, their bodies, each other, and nature in a most visceral way. Over the course of six years, she documented them as they navigated their way from childhood to womanhood while living in a deeply religious community where sexuality and feminine growth was stymied. Through portraits and images often punctuated by the color red, Barnard’s images make clear that the forbidden offered more promise to her sisters than the familiar.
—Laura Geiser, senior photo editor, BuzzFeed News
This entire issue of Cal Sunday is a wealth of treasures. The photo essay by Carlos Chavarría on the number of homes that one foster kid had lived in I found particularly smart and haunting, while the Holly Andres series is a thoughtful behind-the-scenes look at the things that drive us crazy once we get in the door. Take your time and go through it twice; it’s worth it.
—Kate Bubacz, deputy photo director, BuzzFeed News
On the occasion of a retrospective on pioneer street photographer Helen Levitt’s work at Laurence Miller Gallery in New York City, the Guardian has shared a collection of some of her most revered images of New York City during the early 20th century. These pictures, as with much of her work spanning some 70 years, feel quick, unplanned, and raw. Levitt’s photographs have the uncanny ability to transport viewers into a casual stroll through another time and place.
This photo series is an important demonstration of the value of diversity and representation in photography, both in its subject as well as with the person behind the camera. Brian Adams knew the best way to portray the Inuits and how to hurtle past the tropes, simply because he is one of them. The result is a fresh look at what life is like for the indigenous people in Alaska, a people who dwell in modernity but are proud of their ancestry.
Add India’s Ghoramara Island to the growing list of disappearing islands and environmental refugees caused by the rising sea levels. The reality for the island’s residents is not a future concept, but something they are already staring in the eye. And there are so many of these islands that bear similar stories and face the same fates, many we’ll never hear about without the diligence of visual journalists who report back.
A focus on rehabilitation is considered an important step forward in modernizing a prison system based solely on imprisonment, and this work by photographer Brian L. Frank offers an intimate look at the paths of three young men passing through a rehabilitative prison camp. Frank’s images invite us into the lives and minds of these young men as they practice skills and focus on getting out. Once they are released, Frank shows us a slice of the life the young men inhabit on the outside, and as always, it’s a challenge to return back home to old friends and old habits.
First, this series on African photographers is incredible and worth watching as the creativity and energy in photography that has been coming out of the continent is undeniable and way too often overlooked. Second, this essay on Zinyange Auntony in particular is good because it shows some of the softer, more subtle scenes around the election and protests that rocked Zimbabwe this summer. Win-win.