At its heart, this series is a gloriously stark, beautiful exploration of light and color. Bright Black World, a new book by Todd Hido, is mostly devoid of humans, and yet the photographer still manages to stir reflections on the impact and longevity of humanity. Far from being bleak, there is something soothing about the solitude of the frames, as though the silent landscapes offer respite from the chaotic present. —Kate Bubacz, deputy photo director, BuzzFeed News
Photographer JR teamed up with Time to create this photo mural marrying still and moving visuals with audio. In total there are 245 portraits weaved into the mural in an attempt to capture a 360-degree view of the gun debate currently consuming Americans, which includes gun violence victims Rep. Steve Scalise and former representative Gabrielle Giffords. Each photo and audio component offers windows into the thoughts of Americans on all sides of the issue, while the effect of merging the separate portraits creates the illusion of unity in such a disparate group. The portraits do well at capturing personality, while the audio reveals the many shades of gray some struggle with, as one man mused about being pro-gun, but anti–gunshot wound. —Laura Geiser, senior photo editor, BuzzFeed News
Not technically a photo essay per se, but I love a good viral image — where it’s not because someone did something ridiculous or because an animal ate another animal or human, but because it shows how, despite the many pictures coming out of Antarctica these days, that part of the world still continues to impress. —Anna Mendoza, photo editor, BuzzFeed Australia
I love the collaborative nature of this project that Erin Lefevre has been working on with her younger brother. The images themselves are only the start of the narrative. Far from stereotypical, the series opens up the raw edges of what it means to tell a story and who has the privilege to do so, especially regarding mental health. —KB
As this Reuters piece points out, the farmer featured here is just one of the many who have become victims of oversupply. This story puts a spotlight on a reality that we might not realize is happening, because, by its nature, we as consumers benefit from the issue. And it’s one that we only really come to know about if we know someone in that plight, or through photo essays like this. —AM
The images in this AP investigation of patients held against their will in Congo hospitals for the simple crime of seeking medical attention for illness or the birth of their children cut to the core of our humanity. Patients who are unable to pay their medical bill at the time of treatment are detained until the debt can be paid with money, labor, or some form of collateral. The portraits of exhausted and defeated subjects, recovering from the medical emergency that took them to the hospital in the first place, are hard to digest, especially given the fact that the World Health Organization, donors, and the United Nations have yet to officially recognize this human rights abuse. “I hope we can find someone to help us soon. Because if it’s up to the hospital, we will never be free.” —LG
As the second massive caravan of migrants this year makes its way toward the United States, it’s important to note the utter ordinariness of the people making the journey. Children, families, and the elderly all walking across a continent is truly a feat that will, in kinder times, be recognized for the courage, willpower, and desperation that it requires. This essay points to the determination that is required to undertake the journey with such grace that belies the physical difficulties.