Photos of the Year That Almost Got Away: Behind and Beyond 365

Eugene Reznik
Eugene Reznik
A monthly calendar used by TIME Senior Photo Editor Phil Bicker to edit 2013: The Year in 365 Pictures.

Scroll to the bottom of this story to see some of the images that got away along with a brief explanation for their omission and value.

Over the past weeks, LightBox has published its selection of year-end galleries, a retrospective photographic survey of the year that was: the 10 best photos of the year, the best of TIME’s commissioned portraits and photojournalism, the best photobooks, the year’s most surprising photos, the year in déjà vu and 365 (a photo per day in 2013). The selections, made with contributions from the entire TIME photography department, form a solid yearbook for 2013.

For 365: The Year in Pictures, we set a number of rules to guide our selections: the most rigid being that images needed to be taken on the day they represent in the gallery. In compiling these year-end features, it always proves difficult to strike a balance: between form and content, between images with news value and those with aesthetic merit, and between photos of joy and those of sorrow. These variables are particularly difficult to bring into harmony when editing a cohesive gallery of 365 images; the sheer quantity of visually-diverse content created over the past year is, at best, extremely challenging to organize coherently.



365 thumbnail printouts with editing marks and notes for the month of October. At this stage in the editing process the circled images were in question. Ultimately some were replaced for the final edit.

Finding the right image for each day of the year is unpredictable: there are days of abundant riches, where it’s difficult to select a single shot, and days where finding an adequate images is akin to a fruitless search for the needle in a haystack. It’s also complicated because images need to be of a certain type; often, more subtle images are overlooked in favor of direct images conveying a simple message. Photos shot as part of longer-term stories often fall to the wayside, although their merit is unquestioned.

The final 365 gallery acknowledges the work of hundreds of photographers. A vast majority of these are documentary or photojournalistic images and come from the major news services. But smaller agencies, independent photographers and work specifically commissioned for TIME over the the past 12 months is also represented. The final edit includes photos from established photographers like TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev, the AP’s David Guttenfelder and Jerome Delay, alongside emerging photographers like Mosa’ab Elshamy and EPA’s Ali Ali; the latter of whom had the greatest number of photographs used throughout our year-end galleries.

We note one exception to our rules for 365: an amazing portrait looking down on Saturn and its rings. Although the image, created from photos obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, wasn’t taken on the day it represents, we made an exception because of the complications stemming from the transmission of data from a satellite millions of miles from Earth.

Even after going through tens of thousands of printouts and hundreds of digital and paper contact sheets, there is still a nagging sense that a significant or important image has been omitted — or worse yet, missed completely. And so it goes: there are images that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it into our galleries. Here, Senior Photo Editor Phil Bicker looks back on some of the photos that got away, giving a brief explanation for their omission and value.

SYRIA, ALEPPO. Relatives of a wounded civilian by regime forces air strike brought balloons in his hospital room. ALESSIO ROMENZI

Alessio Romenzi

One of my personal favorite images of the year. A beautifully quiet and subtlety poignant image from Syria made by Alessio Romenzi, a frequent contributor to TIME. This photograph would surely have made the 365 gallery were it not taken on the same date as the Boston Marathon Bombing.

April 15, 2013. Relatives of a civilian wounded by a regime forces air strike brought balloons in his hospital room in Aleppo, Syria.
White House handout photo of U.S. President Barack Obama shooting clay targets at Camp David

Pete Souza—White House

This photo, a White House handout image by Pete Souza, shows President Obama shooting clay targets. Released by the Oval Office on Feb. 1, 2013 during the heat of a debate on gun control, the image made quite a splash in the media. But since it was originally taken in Aug. 2012, we had to exclude it from 365.

Aug. 4, 2012. President Barack Obama shoots clay targets with a shotgun on the range at Camp David, Maryland.

Zheng Zhang—HotSpot /Landov

Animal images are a popular and regular component of our weekly Pictures of the Week feature. This image of wildebeests is one (of many) images that come through the news agency wire undated. Without confirmation of the date it was taken, we weren't able to include this astounding image in the final 365 edit.

Undated. A group of wildebeests during their yearly migration, Kenya.
Protest against the Jewish settlement of Shelo

Alaa Badarneh—EPA

This image of Palestinians protesters in the West Bank narrowly missed this year's 365 gallery. It is a powerfully composed and aesthetically strong image which, on closer study, reveals in the top left corner the surprising proximity of the conflict to the main highway. Had we compiled a 365 year-in-silhouettes gallery as we did in 2012, this image would certainly have made that edit.

Sept. 10 2013. Tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers (not pictured) hangs in the air over Palestinian protesters during clashes at a protest against the Jewish settlement of Shelo, near Nablus, West Bank.
Mali Fighting

Jerome Delay—AP

Here is a subtle image by the AP's Jerome Delay made during the conflict in Mali, where he produced a wealth of powerful imagery over a very short period of time. Because of the quantity in such a short time, we simply weren't able to include more of his deserving work in the final cut.

Feb. 9, 2013. Footprints from worshipers are left in the sand at the ancient Askia mausoleum's mosque, built in 1495 in Gao, northern Mali.
Two dresses belonging to Fareba and Nabila Gul.

Bryan Denton—The New York Times/Redux

Sequencing also played its part in the decision to omit photos like this environmental still-life image of clothing belonging to two sisters who committed suicide. Instead, we prioritized a still-life image of the Pope's robes and shoes for the day before, and we wanted to avoid running two still-lifes in a row.

March 3, 2013. Dresses belonging to Fareba and Nabila Gul, two sisters who committed suicide after an argument in November of 2012, kept as momentos by the Gul family at their home in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.
Two dresses belonging to Fareba and Nabila Gul.


Top: The sequence including our omitted image, which was too similar to the center photograph to warrant inclusion.

Bottom: The sequence we chose for 365 enabled us to include an image from Sara Naomi Lewkocwicz's story on domestic violence shot for TIME.

O. Laban-Mattie—UNHCR/AFP/Getty Images

This was another favorite image of mine, a handout from the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. This image of Angelina Jolie, a UNHCR special envoy, meeting with Syrian refuges was cut from the 365 edit not for a lack of merit, but because the previous day's image was also from Syria.

June 19, 2013. Actress Angelina Jolie (L) holding a baby as she visits a family of Syrian refugees in their apartment in Amman, Jordan.
Istanbul: Police Storm Gezi Park

Jodi Hilton—Nur Photo/Sipa USA

Smaller agencies and individual photographers are more likely to slip under the radar when they come across the agency wire. However, once a photographer's work comes to the attention of photo editors, it is tracked more regularly and often receives more exposure. Wider distribution, as in the case of this photo, filed through Nur and Sipa USA, aids the potential for an image and photographer to gain that initial recognition. Although this image by Jodi Hilton made our Pictures of the Week, it did not ultimately make the final edit for this year's 365 gallery.

June 15, 2013. A man suffering from the burning effects of tear gas is treated inside the Divan Hotel behind Gezi Park after clashes broke out between protesters and police.
Women walk on a windy day outside Kabul

Mohammad Ismail—Reuters

More often than not, single, quiet images, like this one of Afghan women walking in Kabul, are frequently edited out in favor of more direct photographs. Images that appear in our 2013 end of year galleries, more often than not, are ones that deliver their message with immediacy and without the need for secondary, supporting images.

July 23, 2013. Women walk on a windy day outside Kabul.
Song Xuxia receives treatment at a hospital after an earthquake hit Minxian county

Wang Yixuan—Reuters

This quiet image, which manages to simply and effectively convey the haunted look and state of shock of a young earthquake survivor in China, was excluded from our 365 edit due to the news cycle. But in many ways, this image is more visually compelling than the one chosen for the day of the Royal Baby George's first public appearance.

July 23, 2013. Song Xuxia, 19, receives treatment at a hospital after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit Minxian county, Dingxi, Gansu province, China.
vatican city. nov 9th 2013.Paul VI Hall, at 10:45
Pope Francis' audience with U.N.I.T.A.L.S.I. for the 110th anniversary of its foundation

Francesco Zizola—NOOR for TIME

With the publication of the 365 gallery coming before the actual end of 2013, the editing process has changed: the calendar is now filled each morning, rather than in hindsight. This image was widely seen when it appeared in TIME's Person of the Year issue in mid-December. Although commissioned for TIME in November, the photograph did not see the light of day to keep the secrecy of our Person of the Year choice for 2013.

Nov. 9th 2013. Children greet Pope Francis during his audience with UNITALSI, marking the 110th anniversary of the organization's founding, in Vatican City.

Carl De Souza—AFP/Getty Images

Sometimes it was difficult to choose between frames of the same situation by the same photographer. There were some images, like this one, that didn't quite make the cut.

Aug. 26, 2013. A captured wild male black rhino named Sero looks out from his crate at the Lewa Conservancy, Kenya.


(Left) Carl de Souza's rhino image that made the edit and (right) another frame that was omitted.
APTOPIX Bangladesh US Trade

Suman Paul—AP

In searching through the wire agency archives, we discovered that two of the most iconic images from this year's 365 gallery have unexpected twins. The haunting final embrace of a couple in the debris of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse was captured not only by Taslima Akhter, but by freelance photographer Suman Paul. The latter image, which was distributed by the Associated Press in a one-off arrangement, is further evidence that whether a photo is taken by a freelancer, an agency, or an activist, important stories and issues will always be published and brought to a wider audience.

April 25, 2013. A Bangladeshi man holds on to a woman, both victims of a building collapse, in the debris of Rana Plaza garment factory in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
April 25, 2013. Two victims amid the rubble of a garment factory building collapse in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh.


(Left) Taslima Akhter's image from the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse that made the 365 edit. (Right) Suman Paul's similar image which was omitted.
Death toll hits 30 after Nairobi shopping mall attack

Kabir Dhanji—EPA

A photograph taken amidst the violent siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya by New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks made our 365 edit. This almost identical frame, shot by local photographer Kabir Dhanji, serves as evidence, not only of the atrocity of the news event itself, but of the ability of regional photographers to powerfully document events in their own countries.

Sept. 21, 2013. People take cover behind a counter at the Westgate shopping mall after a shootout in Nairobi, Kenya.
A woman and children hide inside Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 21, 2013.


(Left) Tyler Hicks' photograph from the deadly Westgate shopping mall seige in Kenya which was included in the 365 gallery and (right) an almost identical shot by Kabir Dhanji which was omitted.
Belonging - Old Dhaka

Munem Wasif—Agence VU

This image from the book Belonging: Old Dhaka, of children reenacting a violent scene in Bangladesh, bares an uncanny and unsettling likeness to one of the more disturbing images to make this year's 365 gallery—of a violent execution in Syria. In what proved to be a bloody and violent year, for reasons of balance and the possible perception of it being seen as a gratuitous image, the Bangladesh photograph did not make the final edit.

March 29, 2013. Young boys having fun with a knife, in the district of Sutrapur, Bangladesh.


Two images of disturbing similarity, in this instance from different dates. (Left) A photograph of an execution in Syria by Emin Özmen which was amongst the final 365 selection and (right) Munem Wasif's image of children reenacting a similarly violent scene which was not included in the final edit.

Think we totally missed something? Let us know what you liked seeing and what you would have added in the comments below.

Phil Bicker is a Senior Photo Editor at TIME.

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