It's getting close to the end of the calendar year, a time when news agencies, sports web sites and others display the best images of the year.
I'm a sucker for end-of-year "best photo" collections. From news magazines to sports and other creative sites, people collect most popular or interesting images and the reason I love these is that they inspire me. I see what's getting people's attention, and try to integrate what I've seen into my mental data bank so that when I'm shooting, I can raise my game. If you're looking to improve your work, there's no better place to look than photos that rise above the others. Here are the my ten favorite "Best Images for 2012" compilations online right now.
2012 World Press Photo Contest
Over 100,000 images were submitted to the 55th annual World Pres Photo Contest. See the winners, and the many worth runners-up, which include photos you might not find anywhere else.
CNN: 2012: The Year in Pictures
Popular news site CNN may be best known for its videos (after all, it's the web extension of the Cable News Network), but its compilation of over 70 still photos covers the year in news, sports and politics. Some of the images from war zones are graphic in nature.
Reuters: Best Photos of the Year 2012
With its worldwide reach, the Reuters wire service's photos are a combination of news from place that are constantly in the news (Syria, the US, Israel) to less reported on news that is nonetheless compelling, such as the Nepal Bisket Festival, a miner's strike in South Africa, men beating up a gay man in Ukraine, and more. Generous captions, camera and exposure information are included.
Time's Best Portraits 2012
While Time and sister site Life are certainly going to post stunning news and celeb images, Time's intriguing Best Portraits collection is an intriguing twist. Collected from several portrait projects shot over the course of the year, this selection shows famous, infamous and unknown individuals in compelling fashion. And yes, believe it or not, the above photo is Jerry Lewis.
London 2012 Olympics: The Best of the Guardian's Pictures
One of the big stories of the year was the Olympics, a target-rich environment for great photography. Who better to run the best-of collection than the Guardian, for whom this was a local story.
In Focus: The Year In Photos from The Atlantic
The Atlantic mixes in hard news, sports, and human interest in this diverse mix; be sure you have a fast connection: The images are large, and there are a few dozen on each of the three pages.
Huffington Post: Amazing Photos 2012: The Best Pictures of the Year, So Far
HuffPo's collection looks at the world in wonder, showing photos that capture natural beauty, humor, and more natural beauty. A surfer catches a wave with a rainbow behind him, a ship towing 145 water skiers, the stunning waterfall island at Igazu Falls are among the many images shown here.
Wall Street Journal Photos Of The Year 2012
Searchable by month, category, top rated and by region the Wall Street Journal's collection includes photos showing religion, nature, violence, geopolitics, sports, life, accidents, politics, the economy, and a catch-all category, "oddshots". Lots of great shots, and Oddshots gave me an opportunity for a much-needed laugh.
Bleacher Report The Coolest Sports Pics of 2012 So Far
From the typical slam-dunk-from above to goalie from below to pie-in-the-face winning pitcher, the challenge for sports photos these days is to add a new twist to a standard formula. Some of the photos in Bleacher Report's collection rise above. But for fans, those images that simply do the job very well are worth the visit.
National Geographic: Best News Pictures of 2012
National Geographic takes a step back from the hard news and graphic violence to show natural phenomenon, new discoveries, and both human and animal interest. From images of solar storms to glowing waves and newly discovered animal species, this small collection includes the scientific explanation to tickle your inner explorer.