Just how creative are some individuals in this world? How did a photographer capture that moment? These are the questions I asked myself over and over during the nearly eight years I was editor-in-chief at My Modern Met. Every day, I had the rare privilege of writing about and curating art, design and photography and I fell head over heals for each of the three disciplines. (My heart ultimately led me to favor photography.) Photos have a way of leaving an indelible mark on your mind, they change your very being, providing you with a new perspective or a giving you a new appreciation for life.
Today, I’d like to share 21 images that have ultimately led me to want to become a photographer. These photos do everything from make me see the beauty in the everyday to nudge me to live in the present. While some photos capture the amazing feeling of love, still others tell a fascinating story of a foreign culture.
I hope you enjoy this collection.
Above: After living in Nepal and exploring Tibet and the Himalayas for more than a decade, photographer Hamid Sardar-Afkhami decided he would travel to outer Mongolia to document the nomadic tribes and their unique way of life. Sardar took photos of the Dukha people, Mongolia’s last nomadic reindeer herders. The Dukha tribe is quickly disappearing. Only about 44 Dukha families remain, or between 200 to 400 people. In the 1970s, it’s estimated that there was a population of about 2,000 reindeer but that number has since dwindled to about 600. Here, a young child rests her head on one of the reindeer.
This striking black and white photo of a man feeding ducks and swans in the snow is one you just can’t get out of your mind. It was shot by photographer Marcin Ryczek in Krakow, Poland. The contrast between river and bank as well as the framing are just perfect.
This is an iconic and powerful portrait of composer and pianist Igor Stravinsky by Arnold Newman. The piano cleverly appears like a large musical note. Simple and minimalist but powerful.
Tim Walker shot his first Vogue fashion story at the age of 25, and has been contributing his magical images to the magazine ever since. He’s known for fantastical settings and theatrical characters.
This photo of a man reading while an elephant leans into him looks like it was taken from the pages of a storybook. If you look closely, in the background you can see other elephants roaming the land. In 2010, this serene photo was shot in Chiang Mai, Thailand by famed photojournalist Steve McCurry.
Back in 2011, when the Vancouver Canucks lost in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it sent their home city into chaos. Riots broke out, leaving buildings destroyed, cars burned and even people injured. Seemingly out of the blue, photojournalist Richard Lam was able to capture a truly unique image of a couple kissing.
Photographer Vitor Schietti uses long exposures to create light paintings all around trees. The lights appear to rain down from the branches!
This photo, called Felix, Gladys and Rover was shot in New York in 1974 by photographer Elliott Erwitt. While at first glance you think you’re looking at two pairs of human feet and then a small dog, you’d be surprised to find out that the first pair of legs actually belongs to a large dog! The advertising and documentary photographer is known for his black and white photos of funny and ironic situations.
Hawaii-based photographer Dallas Nagata White captured this incredibly “hot” kiss by an active lava flow. Her husband dipped her into a dramatic kiss as rain began falling. There’s hardly any retouching, the photographer only adjusted the color contrast and sharpened the image. This photo leaves you breathless. “When we say this was a spontaneous shot, we mean the kissing pose was,” White states. “We’d all first taken our ‘Look at us, standing next to lava in the rain’ power stance photos, but after Ed and I had taken a couple, he said, ‘One more,’ and dipped me in a kiss without warning. It was the only kiss shot we took that night.”
Jason Lee is a father who creatively captures his kids. Using a bit of Photoshop, he makes silly scenes come to life, like this one of his two girls playing around with duct tape.
Migrant Mother, shot in 1936 by photographer Dorothea Lange is known as the iconic image of the Great Depression. Florence Owens Thompson, was a 32-year-old destitute pea picker in California who had seven children. You can just see the worry, of how she’s going to feed her children, etched on this mother’s face.
Elena Shumilova is a Russian mother who takes stunning photos of her children with the animals on her farm. This one, of her son gently touching their large dog, shows the sweet friendship between the two.
Moscow-based Russian photographer Katerina Plotnikova is known for her breathtaking fairy tale-like photos of women with live animals. This one, of a bear kissing a woman’s hand looks like it’s been Photoshopped but it hasn’t. While these encounters may seem dangerous, they’re actually quite safe because the photographer enlists the help of professional animal trainers.
Kirsty Mitchell is one of those photographers who works tirelessly to create storybook-like photos in-camera. She, along with a dedicated team, work on lighting, make-up and wardrobe to make enchanting worlds come to life. This photo, of a women in an ombre dress standing in a lavender field, was one of her earlier works.
For the 2012 National Geographic photo contest, British-born, Thai-based photographer Ashley Vincent won the overall prize and first place in the wildlife category, with this fun image of an tigress shaking off water while at the zoo.
Photographer Chris Morgan shot this magnificent macro photograph of a hummingbird n 2011 at Bosque De Paz, a 3,000 acre privately-owned biological reserve in the middle of Costa Rica. He got a clear shot of the eye and captured the beautiful colors of the feathers.
Chinese photographer Fan Ho captured the everyday life of Hong Kong throughout the 1950s and 1960s. This image is captivating because it captures light and shadow in an artistic way. The shot is called Approaching Shadow and it was taken in 1954.
Using a long exposure, the path of the kayak paddle over serene lakes is brought to life. As photographer Stephen Orlando of Ontario, Canada states, “I’m fascinated with capturing motion through time and space into a single photograph. Using LED lights with custom color patterns and long exposure photography, I’m able to tell the story of movement. This technique reveals beautiful light trails created by paths of familiar objects. These light trails have not been artificially created with Photoshop and represent the actual paths of the objects.”
Hungarian photographer Noell S. Oszvald‘s conceptual black and white photos are striking. This one, of a bird flying in the air while a woman hunches over with her hands over her eyes is unforgettable.