17 Of Our Best Photo Stories From 2021

We love photo stories over here — these are sure to rock your world.

Photography is magical for a lot of reasons, but one thing it does particularly well is open doors to worlds, people, and places that you otherwise may not see. Through photos, we got to travel to space, take in sumo wrestling in Japan, check out the coast of the Chesapeake Bay, and visit strip clubs in Houston, all in one year. Also: There's some great time-traveling back to the early aughts on this list.

It is hard to pick favorites — this roundup is not a popularity contest, per se, but we did love working on these photo stories over the course of 2021. See you next year!


"These Photos Take You Inside Houston's Most Famous Strip Club"

A woman with a knowing look sits on a chair wearing a spangled top while another woman is seen in a mirror in the foreground with a spangled thong

"This New York Photographer Is Living His Best Life and His Photos Prove It"

A woman in a fur coat, smoking a cigarette and laughing

"A Reminder of What Cakes Looked Like Before Baking Shows Ruined Our Expectations Forever"

Paris Hilton blowing out the candles on a sheet cake

"Senior Year: Photos Show What Life Was Like in One Senior Facility During the Pandemic"

Two older women dressed in black, holding hands while in wheelchairs in front of a red carpet backdrop

"These Real-Life Photos by the Hubble Telescope Look Too Strange to Be True"

A hydrogen explosion in space with stars

"Formerly Incarcerated People Share What It Is Like to Adjust to Society After Prison"

A man sitting at a computer with camera equipment around him

"These Unforgettable Photos of Poverty Challenge the Idea of the American Dream"

A man resting his head against a pole on a street corner

"These Photos Show the Native American History That's All Over the US"

A landscape seen through a cutout in a wooden post fence

"This Is What Iceland Looks Like After a Decade of Green Investment"

People swimming in a lagoon with a power plant in the background

"How Climate Change Is Impacting the Chesapeake Bay Coastline"

Blue tape on a wooden walkway

"Try to Make Time for Your Garden"

A woman holding a tomato

"These Intimate Photos Show How Moms Coped With the Long Pandemic Year"

Two boys playing in the mud

"These Photos Show the Struggles of Girls Who Dream of Going Pro in Sumo"

A girl doing a sumo pose in a parking lot

"Beautiful Portraits Show How Adoption Influences Asian American Identity"

A woman sitting on a bed holding a doll dressed in traditional korean clothing

"The Harrowing Stories Behind Some of the Most Iconic Photos of 9/11"

A crowd of people all looking up

"These Photos Show How Britney Spears Was Everywhere Before Her Conservatorship"

Britney spears being led away from a crowd of fans

"Bare Naked Ladies: The Dreamy Photos by Carlota Guerero"

A group of women in dresses in a field of wildflowers