Reuters Best photos of the year 2012


“I took a high position on a building from where I could get a straight down shot of the devotees making a human pyramid to break a clay pot suspended between two buildings. This was the first group of devotees who, before breaking the pot, recited a short prayer by placing their hands on top of each other.”

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, lens 50mm, f8, 1/400, ISO 1000

Caption: Devotees try to form a human pyramid to break a clay pot containing curd during the celebrations to mark the Hindu festival of Janmashtami in Mumbai August 10, 2012. Janmashtami, which marks the birthday of Hindu god Krishna, is being celebrated across the country.


“I found this traditional mud wrestling school while doing a story on the fight nights in Mumbai. As the weather was quite humid, the wrestlers put a lot of mud on their body to be able to grip.”

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, lens 16-35mm, f2.8, 1/500, ISO 1600

Caption: A wrestler rubs his hands with mud to prevent slipping due to sweat, during a traditional mud wrestling (Kushti) bout at the Akhaara centre in Kolhapur, about 400 kms (250 miles) south of Mumbai, February 14, 2012. Fewer people are taking up Kushti, according to the sport’s coaches, as young athletes turn instead to mat wrestling to gain access to top international sports competitions.


“After a hot and humid day, a heavy thunderstorm hit the Donbass Arena in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk at the exact time the players of Ukraine and France were singing their national anthems before their Euro 2012 soccer match. While the game was suspended the players and spectators ran for shelter. Only a few tough supporters stayed in the stands. They sang and danced in the heavy rain, like they were under a shower. I hurried to save my equipment under raincoats and plastic bags as more and more water poured down from the sky and the stairs to our pitch position. Surrounded by water and with the sound of the thunderstorm in my ears I discovered this French couple kissing. It seemed as though they didn‘t care what happened around them.”

Canon EOS 1D X, lens 70-200mm at 70mm, f2.8, 1/1300sec

Caption: Fans of France kiss before their Group D Euro 2012 soccer match against Ukraine at Donbass Arena in Donetsk June 15, 2012.

STEVE NESIUS, United States

“Hurricane Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey on a Monday. The next day I saw this roller coaster in the ocean at Seaside Heights from a helicopter. It was an odd scene, but only one small moment during the miles of damage I photographed from the air.

I met reporter Joey Ax Wednesday morning at a marina in Brick, NJ, with hopes to rent a boat and gain access out to the beaches. We were forced to change plans and drove to the Highway 37 Bridge in Toms River. Police road blocks at the bridge denied all access to the barrier islands, except for law enforcement and emergency vehicles. A small media contingent was gathering at the roadblock. Soon the Seaside Heights police chief agreed to bring us over for a 30-minute excursion.

Reporters and photographers crammed into a mini-bus and we were driven to two locations on the beach. We had limited access and were not allowed to wander off into the neighborhood. I photographed piles of debris and destruction, as well as police officers still looking in disbelief at their storm-damaged town.

It was cold and quiet – a gray day with brief moments of sunshine, gentle waves and an offshore breeze. Most of the noise came from the media as we scurried about trying to document as much as possible in the short time we had.

I moved down the boardwalk to isolate the roller coaster from the damaged pier, shooting tight frames of it standing in the ocean, but I also composed the frame to include the beach in the foreground. I timed a few shots for a set of breaking waves. There were a couple of seagulls, the glisten of newly uncovered seashells and the roller coaster standing upright in the surf. An unusual scene, on what might have appeared to be a typical autumn day on the beach.

It’s a very surreal image to me, and not one I’ll soon forget.”

Nikon D3, lens 70-200mm at 92mm, f5, 1/800, ISO 400

Caption: The remnants of a roller coaster sit in the surf three days after Hurricane Sandy came ashore in Seaside Heights, New Jersey November 1, 2012.

LUCAS JACKSON, United States

“Three months prior to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, the United States Olympic Committee hosted a press weekend at a hotel in Dallas where the majority of the year’s Olympic athletes could meet, be interviewed and photographed by media outlets from around the country. It was three days of spending just a couple of minutes with every athlete trying to take a portrait that would most likely be the last photo taken of them before heading to London in order to compete in their respective field of expertise. In an attempt to add a bit of context to their portraits a number of the athletes brought either the tools of their sport or their official uniforms that they would be wearing to compete in. Fencer Alexander Massialas had painted a really graphic American flag pattern on the front of his mask and I worked to get it lined up with the flag I had brought to use as a backdrop for some of the portraits. We took a few relaxed photos but when I had him grab his foil and bend it as if he were so excited to compete he couldn’t contain it and the photo came together nicely. It’s always nice to work with someone who is willing to try a few different things in order to find one that works particularly well.”

Canon 1D Mark IV, lens 24-70mm, f8, 1/250, ISO 100

Caption: Fencer Alexander Massialas poses for a portrait during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit in Dallas, Texas May 13, 2012.


“Indian matters in my country are always a constant subject in the media, with the majority of the news being about conflict over land ownership and Indian rights within the law. I always thought that the majority of Brazilian Indians had a strong desire to be integrated into urban society, watch TV, movies, drink cold water, and use cell phones. But after coexisting with Yawalapiti Indians for a few days I realized that this wasn’t the case. When I reached the village a cacique named Aritana immediately authorized me to photograph their village, but I soon realized that I also had to convince the rest of the tribe. I spent the first day just trying to become one more of the community, and getting to understand how they lived, what they did, and how they were organized. I suffered the anguish of missing wonderful images because I knew that first I had to gain their confidence without the aggression of photographing. I had to show them that I knew the difference between intimacy and privacy. In that way many of them understood that I was a friend, and not an intruder. I did make friends and conversed with some to try and understand them better. I earned the nickname of Banana, for the bunches of bananas that I carried with me to their village. I also gained the confidence of many children, who followed me wherever I went. They loved to play in the trees, and during the hottest time of the day they played in the nearby river.”

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, lens 24mm, f1.4, 1/4000, ISO 50

Caption: A Yawalapiti boy dips his head into the Xingu River in the Xingu National Park, Mato Grosso State, May 9, 2012. In August the Yawalapiti tribe held the Quarup, which is a ritual held over several days to honor in death a person of great importance to them. This year the Quarup honored two people – a Yawalapiti Indian who they consider a great leader, and Darcy Ribeiro, a well-known author, anthropologist and politician known for focusing on the relationship between native peoples and education in Brazil.


“With very little understanding of astronomy but with the aid of a phone app, I began a three evening attempt to capture the moon with the Olympic Rings. The rings were hanging iconically on Tower Bridge for the London 2012 Olympic Games and it was suggested to me that a full moon should – at the right angle – cross through them.

Day One – Having planned to be in the “perfect” spot on London Bridge with a good view of the Olympic Rings further up river and using the app information, I waited for the moon to rise. However the horizon itself was a little cloudy. When the moon eventually showed itself about 10 minutes after the app’s moonrise time it was off to the right hand side of the bridge. I hadn’t taken into account that the moon wouldn’t rise in a vertical line but would travel across the sky. So, by a combination of it appearing late through cloud and miscalculation, I was totally in the wrong place. I rushed carrying the tripod with a heavy 400mm lens attached and the rest of my camera gear hanging off my shoulders – running off the bridge, down several flights of steps, and to the path alongside the River Thames to try re-align the moon with the rings. However, the moon moves surprising quickly. I couldn’t manage to run far or fast enough in time to get the image before the moon rose high, over and above the bridge.

Day Two – Armed with my 400mm, only a monopod and less gear, ready to run after the moon should I be in the wrong location again, I returned to London Bridge. A recalculation had been made. The moon was rising later and at a slightly different angle to the night before. From my previous mistakes I knew that when the moon was on the horizon it needed to be to my left in order for it to move across through the rings. However, to my dismay, the rings were not there. As Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge (i.e. the carriageway lifts to allow boats through) it had raised in preparation to allow a vessel through. I waited just in case they might be lowered, taking in the misfortune of looking at what would have been the perfect shot – that didn’t happen.

Day Three – I returned to the bridge, worried that the rings would be raised once more. But no, great news, they were down. I readied myself at the predicted angle to the rings. The moon would be rising at 8:50pm and would hit the rings by about 9pm. As the moon had been rising later each evening it had become darker than the previous evenings. I wished I had my tripod. Nonetheless, using the Canon 5D MkIII meant I could push the ISO a little further than I would normally have chosen for a late evening shot. Exactly on time the moon began to show itself over the horizon, a lovely peachy color. I had to keep an eye on a changing exposure, balancing the brightness of the moon with a rapidly darkening sky. As it rose I had to keep moving along, mercilessly pushing tourists out of the way who had stopped to look, in order to keep the moon in line with the rings. Finally, after three days, I had the picture I had been trying to achieve.”

Canon 5D Mark III, lens 400mm + x1.4 converter, f4, 1/400, ISO 4000

Caption: The full moon rises through the Olympic Rings hanging beneath Tower Bridge during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 3, 2012.

EDUARDO MUNOZ, United States

“After working during the day to document the impact of superstorm Sandy on folks from Manhattan, we decided to go early in the morning to try and catch a good skyline photo of Manhattan as soon as the storm left the area, weather conditions permitting. It was impossible to sleep that night, not because of the assignment itself but because the winds strongly hit the roof of my small room throughout the night.

At 6am I decided to go out. I went with my colleague Kena to the Hudson River waterfront walkway where you can see the huge Financial Center in Manhattan. That morning, you could feel the passing of something really huge in the Big Apple, something that the media had dubbed “FRANKENSTORM”.”

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, lens 24 mm, f1.4, 1/500, ISO 1600

Caption: The skyline of lower Manhattan, as seen from Exchange Place, is mostly in darkness except for the Goldman Sachs building after a preventive power outage caused by giant storm Sandy, in New York October 30, 2012.

MUKESH GUPTA, Indian-administered Kashmir

“As it was raining heavily, I was out to get some weather standalone pictures and in between I got a call from my friend about the Tawi River getting flooded and about a temple that was partially submerged. So, without wasting any time I went to shoot the flooded temple during heavy rains in Jammu.”

Canon EOS 5D, lens 16-35mm at 35mm, f8.0, 1/320, ISO 320

Caption: A temple stands amid the waters of the flooded river Tawi after heavy rains in Jammu August 19, 2012.

LUCAS JACKSON, United States

“This image was taken as the sun set on Election Day in the Rockaways. Located in the Beach 90s the iconic boardwalk was lifted by the storm surge from superstorm Sandy and pushed several hundred feet inland. The water broke and twisted the massive wooden structure and blocked vehicular traffic to the waterfront. As a result the Department of Sanitation demolished these long sections and piled them up on both sides of the street. In between these towering piles of demolished wood was an alleyway for passersby. This day had been sunny and warm and the sand pushed up by the surge had dried out, creating large dust clouds when vehicles drove the narrow lanes between the piles of debris. I had been photographing along the water and noticed that the dust created a nice layering effect when it was caught just right by the sun. Using that element I photographed for about an hour trying to get all of the elements together in a single frame as people and cars moved along the street. I had to walk along the street trying to find a spot that gave the best combination of foreground elements to combine with the larger buildings in the background and then wait for people to walk across the street to give the scene a sense of scale. I used a building on the left to shield me from the direct sun and took several dozen photos with different subjects filling the street, but it did not look right until this man walked past me and continued down the center of the street. I feel it is one of the most successful photographs I took during this disaster that visually articulates the scale of destruction and just how strong nature can be.”

Canon Mark IV, lens 70-200mm, f8, 1/1250, ISO 160

Caption: A man walks down Shore Front Parkway surrounded by debris pushed onto the streets by hurricane Sandy in the Queens borough region of the Rockaways in New York, November 6, 2012.


“Campaign rallies are so alike, so much so, it can seem like you are covering the same rally over and over again. You rarely remember what state or city you are in. The only thing that makes them different is when you can actually shoot something you have not seen at other rallies. At this particular rally, since it was so bright outside, an opaque teleprompter was used. Having been uninspired by what I saw from my position up close, I roamed to the back of the rally. From there, I was able to see the way the teleprompter obscured President Obama’s face; in fact, it appeared to replace his head entirely.”

Canon EOS1D MK IV, lens 70-200mm, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 200

Caption: A teleprompter obscures U.S. President Barack Obama as he speaks during a campaign event at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio August 21, 2012.

RICK LOOMIS, United States

“Shooting the shuttle’s arrival and transport to its new home was a much-anticipated event in the Los Angeles Times photo department. Nearly every photographer was involved at some point along the journey – from creating time-lapse images to flying overhead, everyone played a part.

I was excited to photograph the shuttle that had long ago replaced the Challenger shuttle, which I watched explode with my own eyes from a second-floor window of my high school during my 10th grade year. That was a truly tragic event and this was a chance to come full circle with a joyous occasion for Angelinos.

My assignment was to follow the space shuttle Endeavour — on foot, which began for me at about 6 in the morning. Before the day was over I’d spent 17 hours walking much of the 12-mile distance the shuttle travelled from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center.

A substantial crowd lined the sidewalks as it moved slowly through the streets of Los Angeles, much of it through neighborhoods with lower socioeconomic situations. I’m sure for many who saw it from their windows or balconies it might be the only time they ever lay eyes on it. As it moved, I tried to anticipate where an interesting juxtaposition might occur between the Endeavour and its surroundings. Sometimes racing ahead, sometimes deliberately staying behind, I climbed up on roofs, begged my way into houses – anything to try to put myself in a good position.

For this image, which was made along Crenshaw Drive, I found a second floor balcony that afforded a nice view of people crowding the balconies on the opposite side of the street. But what caught my eye more than that was the lone man standing on the roof as the enormous nose cone of the shuttle crawled into view.

I don’t think I need to see the shuttle in its new museum space. The site of the Endeavour dominating the streets of Los Angeles is forever burned into my memory.”

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, f11, 1/250, ISO 100

Caption: A man takes a photo as Space Shuttle Endeavour travels to the California Science Center in Inglewood, Los Angeles October 13, 2012.

JIM URQUHART, United States

“After having a busy couple of weeks and being away covering events like Burning Man I had decided to travel to our family’s cabin outside Pinedale, Wyoming for a weekend of rock climbing and hanging out. On our way back to the cabin one afternoon I got a call from my Dad who was several minutes ahead of me. He told me the forest was burning near our place and to meet him on the road above our cabin. I began racing as fast as I could not knowing if our place was in danger of being burned to the ground. Once I rounded a bend and could see beyond a mountain ridge a huge column of smoke it really hit me. I was forced to reconcile the idea that my loved ones were being directly impacted by a news story.

I got to the top of the ridge to meet my Dad and step-mother. We watched the fire for awhile and watched it move in our general direction. One thing we felt good about is that our place was not in the trees and it would have to make a run of about two miles to get to us over open range land.

After a few minutes I decided I might as well cover the news. I always carry my fire gear in my truck and quickly changed on the side of the road and then sent my wife and dog with my Dad and step-mother in their car. I knew if I wanted to get something unique I had to go get in close to the fire now before a huge response team was in place and access was shut down.

I drove around the eastern flank of the fire to a rise where I could see some cabins and a pond but I always left an exit route for myself since the fire was moving in my direction. The smoke rolling into the canyon I was in was cutting off visibility but I was able to make frames of helicopters loading up with water from a pond. Right after I made the picture a sheriff deputy arrived and booted me from the area. It was a good call. I was about to leave anyways because the smoke was beginning to really cut off visibility and I knew the flames were just over the ridge.”

Canon 5D Mark III, lens 70-200mm at 142mm, f3.2, 1/1600, ISO 100

Caption: A firefighting helicopter fills a bucket of water in heavy smoke as the North Merna wildfire burns in the Bridger National Forest west of the town of Pinedale in Sublette County, Wyoming September 16, 2012.

ANDREW BURTON, United States

“This image was made by reversing the standard exposure for a runway photo. Normally you expose for the models who are well lit, and the audience is reduced to a blurry, black background. With this photo I exposed for the audience, which caused the model to be over exposed. To increase the contrast, I waited for a model with blonde hair and wearing white. The result gives the appearance of a white silhouette of the model, and shows the audience watching her.”

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, lens 70-200mm at 145mm, f2.8, 1/125, ISO 3200

Caption: Audience members watch a model during the J. Mendel Spring/Summer 2013 show at New York Fashion Week, September 12, 2012.

MAXIM ZMEYEV for the Trend Photo Agency, Russia

“I’d just returned from shooting the tragic flooding in Krymsk when the following day I received a call offering me the opportunity to shoot an exclusive – a young man would sew his own mouth shut near the Kazan cathedral as a mark of support for the punk back Pussy Riot. I agreed and 20 minutes before the scheduled time called the “connected” person. They were running late and so I waited another two hours. The man eventually arrived, with mouth already sewn, so I didn’t have a chance to take the pictures of the sewing process which was disappointing, but I started to photograph the protesters. People were walking around him, provoking him, offending him, you could see the hate in their gaze – after all he was standing outside Kazan Cathedral, the main spiritual location for every orthodox Petersburg resident. I was concentrating on his face, trying to capture his stoic reaction to these proceedings, when all around there was hate and a feeling of moral pain and physical pain. (I asked one of his acquaintances who said that Peter had sewn his mouth without anesthetic). This stoic and spiritual standoff was what I wanted to convey in the picture. The actual event looked very cruel – so I decided to shoot with a brutal crop – just mouth and eyes and stress the part of his black clothing – the symbol of mourning.”

Canon EOS 5d Mark III, lens 135mm, f2.0, ISO 200

Caption: Artist Pyotr Pavlensky, a supporter of jailed members of female punk band “Pussy Riot”, looks on with his mouth sewed up as he protests outside the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, July 23, 2012.


“On October 3rd, a day where most of my colleagues were covering the festivities to celebrate German unification, I had the opportunity to be an eyewitness to a Bavarian traditional event. The event was the so-called “Almabtrieb” on the lake Koenigssee, in one of the most beautiful regions of Southern Germany.

At the end of the summer season, farmers move their herds down from the Alps to the valley into winter pastures. The mountain pastures are often in remote areas only accessible by foot – or like the Koenigssee trail – by boat.

We met our guide before dusk to board an electric-powered boat to get to the far end of the lake where the farmer with his herd was supposed to arrive. The lake is known for its clear water and is advertised as the cleanest lake in Germany. For this reason, only electric-powered passenger ships, rowing and pedal boats are permitted on the lake. On this foggy, chilly dark morning I was happy that we didn’t have to row. The hot tea from our captain kept everybody warm and awake.

After a 45 minute ride the sun came out and we were able to see the prettiness of the national park. Our captain stopped, brought out a trumpet and showed us the famous Koenigssee echo. Due to the lake’s position surrounded by steep and narrow rock walls, sound creates an echo which can be heard reflected up to seven times – very impressive.

After another 30 minutes cruising with the sound of waterfowl and the purr of our boat engine, we arrived at the spot where two farmers with their herds were supposed to arrive to load the animals on a float carried by two boats with a permission to use outboard motors to transport the flock.

We could hear the cowbells as the first farmer with his animals came around the corner to board the float. It was a master feat for the herdsmen to navigate the 200 – 400 kg heavy ruminants on the boat.

The cows are covered with flowers if the whole herd has survived the summer. This time, the farmer had to mourn some animals – thus the drove would arrive “natural” at the village where, by that time, hundreds of tourists were waiting for the herdsman with his load.

I can imagine that the cows are looking forward to next spring when they will be back in their “quiet” shelter.”

Canon D1 x , lens 135mm, f4, 1/2000, ISO 1600

Caption: Bavarian farmers transport their cows on a boat over the picturesque Lake Koenigssee at dusk October 3, 2012. Before the winter season approaches the farmers have to drive their cattle down from their Alpine meadows to a narrow valley that can only be reached by boat.


“I took this picture while photographing on a small hilltop which is one of the picnic spots for Afghans on Fridays. I noticed this man climbing a wall to surprise his friend who was already on the hill. The color of his pants and texture of the wall made it a picture for me.”

Canon 5D Mark II, lens 70-200mm, f2.8, 1/250, ISO 800

Caption: An Afghan man takes a shortcut by climbing a wall, at a hilltop in Kabul May 11, 2012.

LUCAS JACKSON, Afghanistan

“This photograph is one that I have wanted to take for years. The sparks and static discharge put out by the rotors of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter is one of the most graphic things you see when working with an army who use these machines for night missions. It is also a lasting mental image for anyone who has worked in Afghanistan or Iraq. For the entirety of my month long embed with troops from the U.S. Army I attempted to capture this phenomenon but it was extremely difficult due to several factors. First, I needed a moonless night to capture the sparks in camera standing out against a black sky. Secondly, this darkness required me to make an exposure so long that it was extremely difficult to hold the camera still due to the incredibly powerful rotor wash of the Chinook. Finally, I needed to do this while often being a part of the mission that the helicopters were working on so I usually had very little time to do it. For this photograph I found a slightly higher vantage point than the ground to work with and held the camera as steady as possible while the first two waves of soldiers going on the same mission I was gave me a couple of opportunities to make this photograph. It might not be the most graphic or emotional image of war but I feel that it accurately captured one of those universal memories that soldiers have of the war in Afghanistan. Anyone who has gone on a night mission or flown from base to base in one of these helicopters has shared this experience and capturing that for people back home to see and understand is a rewarding feeling.”

Canon 1D Mark IV, lens 24mm, f1.8, 8 seconds, ISO 3200

Caption: Paratroopers from Chosen Company of the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry board a waiting CH-47 Chinook helicopter as they begin a helicopter assault mission at Combat Outpost Herrera in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province July 15, 2012.


“It was a dull afternoon in Athens and I was finishing the day’s work at the office, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement atop the parliament building. A group of men were trying to replace the Greek flag on the highest point of the building. I started shooting frame by frame thinking that it reminded me of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising 67 years ago.”

Camera EOS1D MK4, lens 100-400mm at 230mm, f16, 1/400, ISO 200

Caption: Greek parliament employees raise a mast after they replaced torn-off Greek flag with a new one atop the parliament in Athens Syntagma (Constitution) square April 18, 2012.


“This was after President Obama spoke following his 2012 reelection. When the confetti went off, it was so dense that I could no longer make out the President on stage through my long lens. I switched to a bit of a wider lens and was able to make this photograph. Because of my position on the floor of the event, rather than on an elevated riser like many other photographers, I was able to incorporate spectators taking photographs and waving flags into my image.”

Canon 5D Mark III, lens 70-200mm, f2.8, ISO 4000

Caption: Confetti obscures the stage as U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates after winning the U.S. presidential election in Chicago, Illinois, November 7, 2012.


“The village has electric generators that usually run at night. Their houses are lit by lamps, and more light comes from their TV sets. The Yalawapiti love to watch soccer and news programs. The night I took this photo there was no moon and I was struck by the starry sky. I ran back to the house, grabbed my tripod, and tried a few positions until I was able to frame it the way I liked. I set the camera on a slow shutter speed until I captured the light emanating from behind the house. It was only after taking the photo that I realized the light from behind the house was from a fire where they were cooking fish for the guests of the Kuarup ceremony the following day.”

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, lens 17mm, f4.0, 1/30, ISO 1600

Caption: A view of the Yawalapiti village is seen before the start of this year’s ‘quarup,’ a ritual held over several days to honor in death a person of great importance to them, in the Xingu National Park, Mato Grosso State, August 12, 2012. This year the Yawalapiti tribe honored two people – a Yawalapiti Indian who they consider a great leader, and Darcy Ribeiro, a well-known author, anthropologist and politician known for focusing on the relationship between native peoples and education in Brazil.