An Entire Year in One Shot: W‘s Photographers Let Their Pictures Do the Talking

Written by Biel Parklee
Photographs by Various

What a handful 2016 has been. Here, our favorite photographers each chose one moment—big, small, public, and/or private—that spoke volumes about their year.

Victoria Stevens

“My assignment was to shoot reportage at the annual Guggenheim Gala for Dior. While taking a break from the celeb fanfare I walked my way up the spiral gallery to look from a higher vantage point. There I stopped when a man in the middle of the maelstrom did the same and took the shot.”

Nolis Anderson

“Another day of waking up is another day of progression… 2016 was a complete circus and I enjoyed every moment.”

JJ Ren

“Only lovers left alive?”

Ryan Shorosky

“I began photographing the rodeo in southern New Jersey not far from where I grew up in July of 2016. What started as a one-time trip to the place that I knew to be a Western symbol in a place like New Jersey reinvigorated a passion for something that I have a strong admiration and respect for. So Saturday after Saturday, for three straight months, I’d make the two-hour trip south from NYC again and again. I found myself feeling right at home. This photograph was made during one of the last weekends of the rodeo season, while two women’s barrel racers, Vikki and Sheralee, prepared for the grand entry. The two of them have been not only recurring subjects in my rodeo work, but have become good friends of mine, and symbols of the strength and determination needed for pursuing a truly honest and hardworking life.”

Gregory Reid

“Attached is an image from a personal floral series I’ve been working on this year. My goal was to create something that focused less on the fragility of the flowers themselves and more on the flowers as a strong sculptural unit. Showcasing the flower’s other nature, as design.”

Angela Datre

“It was stressful, and often disheartening, to see the country become so divisive in 2016. Hoping that the new year brings about more collaboration, understanding, and tolerance. I feel confident that there are still plenty of people ready to fight for a better future.”

Magnús Elvar Jónsson

“This is a portrait of the visual artist Pia Antonsen Rognes. I love the conflicting expressions in this portrait—it looks like she’s ready to cry but not, like she’s ready to fight but also to surrender.”

Simbarashe Cha

“Typecasting is a term we often use in the film industry. In fashion this sometimes happens with models as well, but you never hear about it with photographers. I started my career in fashion shooting street style; though actually, I only ever shot street style as a hobby. I’m grateful for the unprecedented number of opportunities I’ve been given in 2016, but signature editorials and campaigns still elude me. Building a trust with fashion houses and magazine editors is a tricky proposition; this photo I took of my friend, Tresa, best illustrates my feelings concerning this paradox.”

Dawid Rus

“Nobody can deny that 2016 was all about streetwear. It became more popular and mainstream then ever. For me as a street style lover, fashion was really on point. People bravely invested in loose and casual looks everywhere around the world, including also in the Middle East. Street culture stood strong!”

Kristi + Scot Redman

“A behind the scenes image we captured from a beauty fashion film we are directing.”

Daniel Dorsa

“Generally, I’m a very curious person. I love learning as much as I can about pretty much anything and everything. For me, shooting a portrait is about getting to know my subject and learning what they do. I shot this photo of E.J. Hill, a performance and installation artist, at his residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. More importantly, I gained insight into who he is and how he approaches his craft.”

Nicole Bachmann-Francis
Dyan Jong

Portrait of Eden, 2016.

Lee Yeong Mo


Corey Tenold

“With Rouge et Rouge I wanted to get a little bit closer and capture raw beauty through spontaneity.”

Thomas McCarty

“Amiyah Scott for her Candy magazine cover story, styled by Ian Bradley.”

Vali Barbulescu

“It’s almost done—I am not talking about 2016, I am talking about a lot of things… We hate too much and love too little. We buy a lot and forget to give anything away. We take too many photographs and make so few memories. This photograph tells an unwritten story of a beautiful woman in depression. Let’s write a love story together for 2017. Let 2017 be a better year. Let us all be better humans!”

Edd Horder

“Brazilian Eloisa Fontes in Zhandra Rhodes. Shot in London.”

Emily Malan

“I’m so fortunate that I have the opportunity to do what I love and to have the clients who give me creative freedom. I’m looking forward to pushing myself more in the new year.”

Evgen Kovalenko

“I love taking pictures of beautiful people, and this picture captures my perception of style perfectly. Street style photography is something that always appeals to me, but within it I do tend to gravitate towards men’s fashion. I always look forward to the next Pitti Uomo where I inevitably spot the coolest cats. Spending time there and taking pictures is always an inspirational experience for me.”

Jaione Amantegi Studio

“The sadness of waiting.”

Matthew Priestley

“American beauty in 2016 was defined by blurred gender, race, and sexuality, and while it seemed to be a ‘come as you are’ year in fashion more than ever, there was an incredible contrast between this and such regressive global politics. But if art, as always, represents society’s new demands and forecasts the next generation of thinking, then progress feels inevitable. There is hope.”

Tyra Mitchell

“2016 has been one of the most interesting years of my life so far. The road to becoming a successful artist is no easy path. My mental agility was consistently challenged and there were many moments where I was unsure of what direction my life was headed. Setbacks are inevitable, but it’s all about rising back up even stronger.”

Sang Woo Kim

“Do you remember that time?”

Felix Kim

“Dollhouse afterhours.”

Zak Krevitt

“Documenting Lady Fag’s Holy Mountain parties is never dull. I always walk away from the evening feeling like I’ve dipped into an alternate reality where sexy aliens and 9-foot-tall goddesses reign. In this image, a chic crab-woman accompanies a ghoul on a quest to dominate the dance floor.”

Fernando Uceda

“This shot is part of an ongoing series called ‘White Nights.’ The title comes from a Dostoevsky short story. It refers to the natural phenomenon when some days never go completely dark.”

Ryan Pfluger
George Angelis

“2016 was an exciting year for me. I got to shoot NYFW for the very first time, a city full of vibrant colors, amazing people, and inimitable style.”

Gunner Stahl

“2016 taught me that anything is possible. It also taught me that losing your passport while out of the country is the scariest thing ever. I shot my first magazine cover this year and it still hasn’t hit me yet. Excited for 2017, 2018, and 2019. “

Isabel Martinez

“Bird. Self-portrait. This is part of my self-portrait series about identity. In the selfie era I decided not to show my identity; I think this is a better way of showing who I am.”

Julien Boudet

“This image is part of a story I photographed last week for New York-based designer Daniel Gregory Natale, featuring the model Ira Chernova. It was shot on 120mm film with my favorite camera, a Mamiya pro 7 ii. I decided to shoot at this specific location, Buttermilk Falls in New Jersey, because I thought it matched perfectly Daniel’s latest collection.”

Ambra Vernuccio

“Inspired by contemporary society’s increasing need to question the hegemony of masculinity and femininity, I wanted to document the subject of ‘Gender performativity.’ By continually setting out to break the boundaries surrounding stereotypes, the ‘gender-bending’ performance acts as a catalyst to radical social change.”

Katie McCurdy

“I met Jemima Kirke on a shoot in October of 2015. Since then we’ve spent 2016 getting to know each other in collaborations of personal and intimate photographs. Jemima is a dream muse for any photographer; I am equally excited and terrified whenever we meet. Jemima and I were driving back to NYC after spending a night shooting in Hudson, and she said to me, ‘Never drive in the middle lane.’ I think about that advice constantly, especially while making creative decisions.”

Biel Parklee, W‘s Digital Photo Editor

“Kaia and Presley Gerber came to visit our offices for a go see during the summer, and usually these are the only opportunities I have to photograph.”

Taea Thale

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” —John Keats

Van Sarki

“I took portraits in September of the workers building out The East Room in Toronto. It is pretty amazing what they are doing there and after getting to know some of them I decided I had to make these images. They are real characters; I think that comes through in the series.”

Raia Maria-Laura

“I would definitely choose this picture. I stood at the Louis Vuitton show in September 2016 with the intention to make a beautiful shot of Karlie Kloss. I stood in the front row until all the aggressive paparazzi pushed me backwards. They elbowed me and I had to move away. I thought for a moment that my nose was broken. Then I thought, ‘No, I have to go back in position.” I went back and bam! Karlie Kloss looked right into my lens.”

Sean Williams

“I always tell people that this shot taught me to go wth my instincts while shooting. I had the chance to shoot these ladies at two previous shows, but I felt the situation wasn’t conducive for a great photo. For me, it was worth the wait to get a clean shot.”

Lexie Moreland

“This year has taken me to a lot of different places, and has put my camera in front of a lot of different faces, often unfamiliar ones, shot in-the-flash, wonderfully and visually revealing yet guarded. And it has also allowed me to shoot what i enjoy most: familiar faces in different places, simply in the light that finds them.”

Marko Macpherson

“While working on my upcoming book, Digital Girls, I was lucky to have the opportunity to photograph W‘s own Grace Fuller last summer. I could make a new image of her everyday, and never lose inspiration. To see more of my portraits of top digital fashion influencers, watch out for the release of *Digital Girls (Rizzoli Books), available in bookstores this spring 2017.”

Siyoung Song

Tree, 2016.

Asia Typek

“It’s always hard to choose a favorite, but this photo of Elina Halimi might be the one that I like the most! It was shot during the menswear shows in Paris, and I love everything about it: the light, pose, outfit. You might have 12 frames of the same photo and none of them is good, or you can have one which you find just perfect. That’s the one!”

Harry Eelman

“A portrait of friends Sally and Lucy, taken this August in Los Angeles.”

Matías Altbach

“I like to capture the true essence of a music festival: the crowd, atmosphere, and style. This picture represents youth, love, and freedom. The pureness of these girls’ expression trespasses the screen and sort of makes you want to be in a festival forever, as if it were some kind of magical place where time stands still.”

Yu Fujiwara

“It’s not the best image. Possibly the worst quality image, even, but a good shot. I shot the model Ruby Aldridge after the Balmain show in Paris this spring. She came out afterwards and was stopped by many photographers. Before everyone started taking pictures of her, she quickly started tying her hair, with her back to the them. I thought that the process of tying her hair was interesting, so I just snapped away. After I came back to London, I took some of the film to a cheap photo developer which I never used before, hoping that the quality would be ok. The quality was so bad that even the focus was messed up because of their ill-maintained machine and liquid. I was very disappointed but this image came out strangely nice. it’s hard to tell what the figure is doing in the image. The accidental imperfect mystery of this image is a little reminder to myself not to be stingy over my own work.”

Davey Adesida

Trust, 2016.

Michael Beckert

“The strangest part of 2016 has been the sheer frequency of awful events. They’ve been so back to back that I find I hardly have time to recover from each one, forcing me to suppress the pain as we move on to the next tragedy. The heart, mine at least, can only stand so much aching. In particular, I’m still thinking about what happened in Orlando, and of course this recent election. My newest work, which I feel particularly privileged to be making this year, is definitely starting to reflect this temporality. Above I’ve made a portrait of one of my best friends, Olivia, and the sun setting behind her brings to mind the closing of this never-ending year. What will happen in 2017? Something good, I hope.”

Ron Ben

“This photo features Rickey Thompson, YouTube personality and Black Lives Matter movement supporter. 2016 has been a fundamental year for this movement, giving minorities a voice to fight against police brutality and discrimination in everyday life and society. Racism and diversity are discussed constantly. People are utilizing social media to support the movement and to create a platform for activism. There are elements of change, though have we really plateaued on resolving racism in America, or are we moving backwards?”

Alex Hodor-Lee, W‘s Digital Photo Assistant

“We published a photo essay of the Hillary Clinton victory party—for the victory that never was—and I remember around nine o’clock my colleague and I were starting to sweat about a possible Trump victory. The Clinton campaign orchestrated a large block party on 11th Avenue—a spillover crowd of thousands who couldn’t make it into the already packed Javits Center. There were jumbotrons showing the election night TV coverage. Slowly, states started reporting, the polls were closing, and talking heads started to take a Donald Trump victory seriously. I spied this young woman looking down at the ground around the time pundits were projecting Trump’s win in Florida. I went to take a photo of her. It was like she was in mourning. As I released my shutter she turned and looked directly into the lens. It didn’t really make sense to run it in the photo essay, but I thought her face—her sadness—really encapsulated the funereal atmosphere. It still haunts me.”

Micol Sabbadini

“The one on the right is graffiti I found in Chelsea. I always go to the gallery district because there are always amazing walls of graffiti that change all the time; I shot it before the elections and I guess whoever painted it was right—we all got it wrong. The one on the left is a poster a girl was holding at the New York City Marathon, which I shoot every year. People come up with really great, creative quotes and signs for the runners. I liked this one because it’s a reminder that’s it’s okay to show our emotions, and the fact that we may be having a hard time at doing something.”

Wikkie Hermkens

“This is an outtake from a shoot with Etienne Deroux, who I shot in Paris earlier this year for W. I was asked to take his portrait a few days before his first presentation in New York. I personally love this photo because it shows a calm Etienne, whose mind may be everything but. There’s a strength in being a young designer, in following your dreams and working hard to make them happen. I think all of this has been captured in this portrait. No clothes, no glamour, just Etienne as the young person he is.”

Dina Litovsky

“This March I visited Vietnam and became intrigued by the carefree attitude of the millennials who seem not to notice they live in one of the last communist regimes in the world. The current median age in Vietnam is just under 30, meaning that half the country was born after the 1986 Renovation policy that have turned Vietnam into a market economy and propelled the country into a period of economic growth. While a few dissidents do protest on behalf of human rights, the majority of the Renovation Generation seem oblivious and unconcerned, focusing instead on their daily life, consumer goods, and the entertainment industry. I spent some time getting to know the young people of Hanoi and witnessed a curious mix of traditional and Western values. In this image, the 28-year-old groom Tien and his 26-year-old bride Thuy are doing an obligatory wedding photo shoot, with her traditional Vietnamese wedding dress visible underneath a modern purple gown.”

Bryan Huynh

“Peter Brant, Jr. styled by Paul Sinclaire, in our special corner on 88th St and Madison Ave.”

Nolwen Cilfuentes

“Tim poses for an ongoing series called ‘On Men’, a study on the condition of being a man.”

Oliver Holms

“Aoi Nakamura is frozen in motion during rehearsals for Neon Dance’s production of Empathy. The image was shot at the Wiltshire Music Centre early in 2016. Oliver Holms has been using stills and video to document Neon Dance’s workshops and rehearsals throughout the year. This personal project aims to give an insider’s look at the creative process of a thriving contemporary dance company.”

Pablo Enriquez

“This image was taken after a thunderstorm and located in a desolate stretch along Rockaway Beach. The electric charge of the air, and the isolation lead to one of the most memorable moments of my photo career. This building was set to be demolished after Hurrican Sandy in 2012; it will be gone late this year.”

Portia Hunt

“2016, you’ve been somewhat a bittersweet daydream.”

Roman Koval

“I left Los Angeles whenever I felt uneasy—escapist day trips that I thought had a reason. One morning, I woke up in a motel room four hours away from home. I was feeling uneasy. As I was leaving the room, stealing one last glance at a blank notepad on the table, still half drunk from the night before, I saw this enormous mountain through the window. I couldn’t tell if it looked like a realist painting or some Hollywood falsehood in a studio backlot. I got in my car and drove back to L.A. to confront myself.”

Salim Garcia

“As the sun was beaming down, I captured Casey Vasquez against a red truck in these colorful photos. The shot is for an unreleased editorial for Averoes clothing. I prefer shooting outside with natural lighting and 400 speed film. I have a variety of different brands of film that I shoot with, from Kodak Ektar for 120mm to Fujifilm Superia for 35mm. With my images I want to create a dream-like feel. Every shot that I take I try to recreate dreams that I’ve experienced or what others have told me.”

Thomas Sawyer

“This year, I failed and I learned. I listened and I ignored. I shared and I withheld. I created and I documented. I experimented and I preserved. I changed and I remained.”