2018 in One Photo: 17 Photographers Capture the Year in a Single Picture

Photograph by Olivia Bee.

What else is there to say about the year 2018 that hasn’t already been said and then immediately rewound and restated and eventually trampled to death in thousands of thinkpieces and tweets and memes that followed? Very little, probably. As a refresher from the other year-end roundups and lists and essays you’ll read this year, W asked 17 talented photographers to send us one photo that they took this year which captures 2018 for them. To some, their choice said something personal; to others, it said something about the world we live in at large; to still others, the picture was more about a mood or feeling than something they could put into words. Which was the whole point, right? Here, 17 photos by 17 photographers for 2018. As we’re sure they would tell you, take it for whatever it’s worth to you.

November (2018). Photograph by Olivia Bee.

“A lot of this year for me has been learning that control is an illusion, and to just trust in surrendering.” —Olivia Bee

Regroup (2018). Photograph by Micaiah Carter.

“Although this image looks beautiful, my niece was actually reacting to her having to give her dog up. A moment of regrouping out of grief; this wraps up my 2018.” —Micaiah Carter

Night Drive (Texas) (2018). Photograph by Lauren Withrow.

“I drive to clear my head, to calm, to think. Heartbreaks and lost memories… this was the year of loss, but also a year of hope.” —Lauren Withrow

Roadside Attractions: Sylvia (2018). Photograph by Sasha Frolova.

“One of the most transparent people I’ve ever met; her earnest joy is written across her face. Whether you look back on 2018 with a Sylvia smile or not, we can’t stop time. 2019, here we come. It has always felt to me like she is waving hello and goodbye at the same time, like ‘aloha’!” —Sasha Frolova

Rush (2018). Photograph by David Uzochukwu.

“This year taught me not to take any good thing for granted, and to do my best to warm others the way they warm me. I’m beginning to understand myself as part of the world.” —David Uzochukwu

Nicolas (2018). Photograph by Lia Clay.

“This year has been, more than anything, a series of affirmation, love, tenderness, and growth for the trans and queer communities. For me personally, it’s been about trying to represent those feelings in my work. I love the ability to meet someone for the first time and instantly connect through photographing them. The camera doesn’t seek to disarm in any way, rather be a tool in the middle of the conversation, of discourse, of an experience you’ve both agreed to work on together. The same spirit represents my feelings about queer empowerment. We’re here to work. We’re here to move past the speculations of our gender and redirect the viewpoint to the absolution of our humanity. Instead of being constantly gazed upon, we need to control the focus.” —Lia Clay

Michael in Malibu (October 2018). Photograph by Jacq Harriet.

“Stylist Jake Sammis took us to this beautiful lookout point in Malibu to shoot these portraits in mid-October, just a few weeks before the tragic wildfires. To think that so much of that area was razed by fire is heartbreaking, but to me this image represents the pure beauty of Malibu and the cycle of nature that remains even in the aftermath of natural disaster. 2018 felt very much like a cycle of intensity followed by these moments of restorative peace and quiet.” —Jacq Harriet

Veteran’s Day Parade, W 38th Street, New York, NY (2018). Photograph by Lea Winkler.

“Taken during the hustle of the parade, this image represents the importance of taking a pause to connect with others, even if only for a brief moment.” —Lea Winkler

Lorraine Motel, Memphis TN (2018). Photograph by Miranda Barnes.

“This photo was taking during the New York Times‘ 50th anniversary coverage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April 2018. For me, it represents the following months to come for my photography: a whirlwind of opportunities and working with publications I have always dreamed of!” —Miranda Barnes

Molly (2018). Photograph by Valerie Chiang.

“2018 was all about experimentation for me, and this photo of my friend Molly was the result of walking into an art supplies store on a whim and seeing what I could create.” —Valerie Chiang

Los Angeles (2018). Photograph by Ryan James Caruthers.

“In Los Angeles, I find myself perpetually behind the wheel. I never presumed that a symphony could be born from the sounds of my boyfriend’s car radio dueling with another’s on the 101. Like the mortality of this peculiar short-lived tune, I too wrestle with fate to orchestrate my own song. But in the end, I can only dissolve into it.” —Ryan James Caruthers

Mask #4 (2018). Photograph by Ryan Duffin.

“2018 was a year where we all needed to take a little extra self-care.” —Ryan Duffin

Wilting (2018). Photograph by Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.
Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to be abound.” —Elliott Jerome Brown Jr.

Tallulah (Common Place) (2018). Photograph by Marisa Chafetz.

“I made this photo as part of an ongoing personal project about intentional community. This was the first time as a photographer that I truly immersed myself in someone else’s world. 2018 taught me that nothing is more powerful than listening to, uplifting and sharing with one another.” —Marisa Chafetz

Flowers in Hampstead Heath (2018). Photograph by Molly Matalon.

“To me this picture is about optimism. It feels like when you have a new crush on someone. It’s from when I went to London on an extended trip with my best friends.” —Molly Matalon

Inland Empire Kids (2018). Photograph by Landon Speers.

“I spent most of this summer on one big long travel job. It was a pretty consuming project with lots of long days, but as we returned to our hotel during golden hour after a particularly long one, I spotted these kids and got a second wind to run down the road after them. Turns out they’d ‘borrowed’ their friend’s wheelchair with a promise to return it half an hour later. I watched them rip around an empty lot kicking up dust for 10 minutes before they vanished into the sunset.” —Landon Speers

Untitled (2018). Photograph by Stas May.

“This image was spur of the moment and simple. It was just a feeling: 2018 was about not overthinking.” —Stas May