Pictures of the Year

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on January 6. Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the building in a failed attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results. Photographer Leah Millis: “At one point I heard the crowd chanting ‘heave-ho’ and thought they must be breaking in through the doors. I didn’t want to risk getting crushed or injured by the massive crowd, which was hostile toward members of the media and had already assaulted several of my colleagues that day. I chose to risk climbing some scaffolding that had been erected for the upcoming inauguration to give me a better view. The Capitol had already been breached via different entrances, but the fight for this entrance went on for hours. Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan police officers engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the mob of Trump supporters and in the process multiple officers were severely injured. Four people would die that day and a police officer attacked by protesters died the next day. Four officers later took their own lives. Eventually, law enforcement was able to successfully push the crowd back. At 5:04 p.m. to disperse the remaining protesters, they used a flash-bang grenade, which released a blinding light that illuminated the U.S. Capitol building. To me, the explosion of the grenade captured the violence and shock of the day: American citizens attacking and breaching their own country’s Capitol building.”

Stephen Mudoga, 12, tries to chase away a swarm of locusts on his farm as he returns home from school in Elburgon, in Nakuru County, Kenya, on March 17.

The container ship named Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt on March 27. Ever Given ran aground after being caught in gusty winds and became wedged in place, blocking the important shipping lane for six days during a time when the world was already reeling from widespread supply-chain problems.

Tears run down the face of Emajay Driver during a protest for Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man fatally shot by a white police officer during a traffic stop hours earlier on April 11 in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Kim Potter, who said she meant to use a Taser but fired her pistol, was found guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter on Dec. 23.

Lighting strikes near the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street, known as George Floyd Square, in Minneapolis in April.

A man runs to escape the heat from multiple funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on April 29, following a surge of cases throughout the country in April.

Rebeca Andrade of Team Brazil is seen in action during the women’s floor final on Day 10 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Center on August 2.

A U.S. soldier brandishes his weapon amid a crowd of Afghan people at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16. As the United States withdrew the last of its troops in August, Taliban forces swiftly took control of most of the country, closing in on Kabul. Panicked crowds swarmed to the airport, desperate to leave the country before the Taliban takeover was complete.

Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on Aug. 15 after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

People standing near the edge of a lava flow in Iceland.

A firefighter works as the Caldor Fire burns in Grizzly Flats, California, on August 22. Photographer Fred Greaves: “As a photographer covering wildfires in California, 2021 was one of the most challenging years that I can remember. A severe multiyear drought along with sustained hot and windy weather created multiple ‘mega-fires’ that were unpredictable and quickly consumed hundreds of square miles. It can take hours to navigate around large wildfires in remote areas, so proper planning is critical to make sure you are in the right place. I also have to wear safety equipment and check on weather conditions and local fire activity so I don’t become trapped. Firefighters were conducting a nighttime controlled burn to clear brush out after temperatures cooled and the wind had died down to protect homes that were potentially in the path of the Caldor Fire in Northern California. They lit backfires at the base of a hill, expecting it would burn at a moderate pace. Instead, the flames quickly raced up the side of the hill, creating the swirling curtain of fire that silhouetted one of the firefighters.”

Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande back into Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, from Del Rio, Texas, on September 20. As U.S. immigration authorities began deporting immigrants back to Haiti from Del Rio, thousands more waited in a camp under an international bridge in Del Rio while others crossed the river back into Mexico to avoid deportation.

A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuña Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on September 19.

That’s not snow. A house sits covered by a deep blanket of ash from a volcano that continues to erupt on La Palma, in Spain’s Canary Islands, on October 30. The Cumbre Vieja volcano has been erupting since September 19, sending lava into neighborhoods and raining ash downwind.

Lake Volta, Ghana. This enormous man-made lake is the largest in the world. Spanning half of Ghana its surface is scattered with eerie tree trunks where once you would find dense forests. Fishing is now one of the main industries for the people here, demanding long hours in often challenging conditions. Amidst all the magic and beauty of the lake, there remains a starker reality. Thousands of children work in its massive fishing industry — and many of these children are trafficked into forced labor.

A whale makes a surprise (and mostly unnoticed) appearance next to a boat full of whale watchers in Baja California Sur, Mexico.