Follow this exchange with a dynamic discussion, hit repeat, and you have a pretty accurate snapshot of the TIME photo department’s typical Slack conversations. Even though we collectively scroll through thousands of photographs each day, there are still those that stop us in our tracks on a regular basis.
As we draw close to the end of another year punctuated by grief and conflict, but also records broken and breathtaking moments of human achievement, photographers continue to astound us by offering new ways of seeing the world. How incredible it is to think you’ve seen every photo of a president, a protest, a sporting event, only to see it anew through the lens of a storyteller who showed up with the intent to inform and to illuminate the connectedness of humankind.
What has become clear in 2023—a year dominated by the rapid rise of AI imagery—is that photojournalism has become more important than ever. The storytellers who are dedicated to bearing witness to events across the globe in real time are critical in providing lucidity to an otherwise muddled world. As such, the weight of responsibility on them to act ethically, and with the highest level of journalistic integrity, is greater now than perhaps ever in history.
Below is the 2023 Greatest Hits version of “Did you see this photo??”: an unranked collection of 100 of the images that moved us the most. We hope that you’ll take some time to reflect on the year that was, with thoughtfulness, clarity, and wonder.
— Katherine Pomerantz, Director of Photography
TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2023
These are the photographs that capture the year